How has the email industry transformed in the last decade?
In this week's podcast, we have Lisa Brown Shosteck who's the Director of the Email Experience Council (EEC). With her, we discuss the relevance of email marketing in 2020, and how the email industry has transformed in the last decade.
Dennis Dayman, our host for the ForTheLoveOfEmail podcast discusses some of the questions that have been on marketer's minds for a long time now. With Lisa Shosteck being in the email industry managing a not-for-profit organization, the EEC, she has a pulse on the changing trends of the email industry.
In last week's podcast, we discussed how to choose the best email service provider for your brand.
Today, we discuss about:
- The rumors of “email being dead” and is it still going strong?
- How has email evolved in the last decade?
- Have consumers become more data conscious?
- What is ethical marketing in 2020?
- What needs to improve in the area of accessibility marketing?
About Lisa Shosteck
Lisa Brown Shosteck is the director of the Email Experience Council (EEC) and is also the Accountability Managing Consultant to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
Their mission is to promote the effective and ethical use of email marketing through thought leadership, education, networking, and best practices. Her work involves enforcing better mechanisms in the email and advertising industry to ensure compliance, and ethical practices amount the marketers.
Is Email Dead or Is Email Marketing Still Relevant?
Let's get right into the topic without any further wait. Is email dead? Does email marketing still work and if it does, is it as profitable as it was before the age of social media?
Dennis asked Lisa this really interesting question about her opinion on the industry and what she believes is different now compared to earlier.
The fundamentals of the email marketing industry are intact. After years of refining and with so many new outreach mediums, what started out with email is still as strong as it was before.
Is it okay to say, email was built perfect? Maybe!
Since email is the only medium, which you can actually call your own asset, and reach your customers in the most personal way possible, it is going to stick around.
Compare that with any other social media and you'll know that the followers are not your own. They're only a number on the platform which actually owns the data about those customers.
How Has Email Evolved in the Last Decade?
We dive right into the second question which is "what has changed in the email industry in the last decade".
A few elements of the email marketing industry have changed significantly:
- The use of technology
- Marketing strategies and tactics
- The availability of real-time data
So the overall change is with how we send emails as per the new rules like GDPR and CCPA, and how we connect with the subscribers personally.
Impact of Technology on Email Marketing
With the vast usage of technology and easy availability of it, there's a lot of user data available on marketing platforms.
What's valuable in this new era of email marketing is how the real-time data you gather impacts your email marketing strategy, your ROI, your metrics, your opens, and clicks.
With social media, there is real-time data visibility in multiple forms including Video. Your ability to use data in one form, to improve and make offers more relevant in your email campaigns can decide your immediate success with the campaign.
Lisa also talks about two of the key changes in the industry: The use of personalization in emails, and the CAN-SPAM Act.
It's now much easier to send highly personalized emails with marketing platforms and gain better engagement by addressing a specific set of audiences by their names, locations, and even professions if the data is collected.
Customer's Concerns of Data Privacy
Another important change that has taken place in the markets is in how consumers react to their data being utilized by brands.
A brand is rewarded with an email address of a customer in return for the value that they provide them. But if the brand starts selling off the email lists to third parties, or continue to send unsolicited emails, it negatively impacts the brand reputation.
Consumers in this day and age are more aware of the data breaches and privacy issues arising from them.
The biggest concern from consumers is they want brands to respect their marketing preferences.
A couple of takeaways on the topic of consumer privacy are:
- Send emails to the customers who really should know about it.
- Make your offers relevant
- Don't send email to people who don't want to hear from you. This point reiterates the first one we mentioned here.
- Don't hide how a consumer can contact you to express their marketing preferences.
- And always respect your customer's preferences of sending frequency and interests.
With that covered, let's move on to the next important question.
What is Ethical Email Marketing in 2020?
Gone are the days when you could buy a list, batch and blast an email campaign to everyone and expect sales. Now this technique will land your emails in spam, and spoil your domain reputation pretty quickly.
So what's ethical email marketing in 2020?
As we mentioned earlier, we're now dealing with hyper-aware consumers who know the importance of data privacy. After the data breaches and millions over millions of emails and personally identifiable information leaked, customers now want the brands they trust to completely adhere to their preferences.
Dennis asked Lisa to help the listeners with a few pointers on the ethical aspect of email marketing since the EEC works on the standards and regulations side of things.
Offer the option to opt-out
Be respectful, I cannot stress enough that it's very simple.
The concept of ethical marketing is very simple now. With the COVID on, every brand is sending out emails about how they're taking the precautions. Sending an email to engaged and new consumers is perfectly fine in this case.
But there's no reason to send it out to a list of emails which are years old, and haven't engaged with your emails for a long time . Maybe they have even forgotten you. That doesn't matter.
If a brand hasn't sent an email to a set of customers in a long time, there's no reason for them to send out the COVID updates to them now.
Also, as we mentioned in the earlier point, brands need to start honoring customer marketing preferences.
You want to give them the option to opt-out of all or a specific set of emails from you.
Allow consumers to engage and respond
Consumers love brands that are accessible to them. A noreply email address is probably a bad decision in 2020. Let consumers get in touch with you, and don't hide the fact that you're open to communication.
Keep it as visible as you need and let them get in touch. Because the fact is, not many people who receive your email actually reply to them. But those who do, are the ones who are absolutely confident about you and trust you. And if they need a product that your brand sells, they would need a lot of motivation to move to another brand.
Consumers in this hyper-aware market want to know exactly what data you're taking up, and how you're using the data that they provide you.
It doesn't stop there. Customers are now well aware that some brands sell the data and they want to know the data you take up as a brand is safe.
Consumers want more transparency from brands on:
- What information are you collecting?
- How are you using it?
- Where are you sharing it with?
- How are you protecting it?
- How can consumers contact you to manage those preferences?
- Are you collecting the minimum amount of data needed for what you need it for?
You don't need to have data on your server forever if you're not using it and it's not relevant.
What is Accessibility Marketing?
Dennis brought up a very interesting point about accessibility in email marketing. 1 billion users around the world experience some sort of disability. And as marketers, we need to make reading emails easy for this audience.
Lisa talked about two guides that the EEC has created about email accessibility marketing. Here are the links to the guides:
- Achieve Accessibility in Email Marketing: For Marketers and Designers
- Achieve Accessibility in Email Marketing: For Developers
The EEC has collectively created multiple other highly valuable whitepapers here: EEC Whitepapers.
We at Pepipost have also created various email marketing whitepapers.
This podcast episode was a really insightful one for email marketers and brands alike! I'm sure we have answered the question "is email marketing relevant" here. To hear the complete podcast, visit the ForTheLoveOfEmail Podcasts page and listen to this, and many other podcasts that we have on the site!