Mix it up: Trends and fads in email marketing
— Melanie Attia is the product marketing manager for Campaigner email marketing. The views expressed are her own. —
In business, there are fads and there are trends. While fads help pay the bills in the short-term, a good small business understands the longer-term viability of its products and services that will be for sale in the seasons to come.
The same holds true for marketing. It’s essential for growth and these days marketing trends continue to shift from offline to online programs.
According to the “2010 Lead Generation Optimization Key Trends Analysis” from CSO Insights, budgets for direct mail declined 29 percent, while 54 percent of businesses increased budgets for email marketing.
Campaigner, an email marketing company that works with small businesses, recently surveyed its customers and found similar results. Thirty-three percent responded they were going to continue with their email programs in 2011 and 61 percent responded that plans were underway to increase the use of email in their marketing efforts.
That said, there are trends small businesses should consider when devising best practices for their email programs. In addition, there are fads that are fun tactics to add some flavor to individual email marketing campaigns.
With the increasing number of people using their smartphones as computers, a mobile commerce plan is a significant way to increase the reach of both online and brick-and-mortar stores to increase sales. Just make sure your email marketing promotion allows users to view your email in an easy-to-read format for a smartphone and includes a URL link at the top of your message. This gives your recipients the option to view your email as a Web page.
If you’re looking to incorporate something cutting edge, QR codes are all the rage right now, particularly for prospects and customers on mobile devices. A QR code is a square barcode that contains URLs, location coordinates, text or contact information. These can drive traffic to your online store without asking users to type in a URL. You can place your QR code on any webpage or printed document to link to your opt-in sign up form. Then, customers can read your emails on any device.
LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA
Like mobility, social media is a trend that small businesses should weave into their email marketing programs. MySpace and Friendster may be social sites that are no longer in vogue, but connecting virtually is still on the rise. Facebook has more than 500 million users and continues to grow. On Twitter, more than 100 billion tweets have been sent since 2006. Every day people watch more than 2 billion videos on YouTube.
If you don’t have one already, add a fan page for your business on Facebook. Include a sign-up form that allows people to become part of your email marketing subscriber list. Use any data you collect here (location, birthday, etc.) to segment your email list. Keep the engagement going by sending personalized emails that may be more social in nature or have ties to relevant conversation on your fan page.
Finally, always remember no matter how popular the fad is, don’t compromise your brand. Branding combines naming, logo development, messaging and taglines to provide a simple way for customers to quickly grasp what your business value is. A good brand is pervasive – it runs through all communications your company has with prospects and clients, right down to your email marketing.