Study Confirms Email's High Stature But Also Lays Out Time Being Spent

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According to a new study by The Relevancy Group and OneSpot, email open and click-through rates are on a three-year high, mostly because of better targeting. According to anarticlein MediaPost, the study attributes much of this success to "senders executing more highly targeted and relevant campaigns," but adds that a "big opportunity exists to driving even higher engagement."

The numbers show that email still deserves to be the workhorse, with average open rates approaching 28% this year, vs. 25% in 2016. And click-through rates averaged 17%, up from 14% in 2016.

The study says that (marketing) employees now spend almost 25% of their work week on jobs such as content selection, HTML coding and proof testing of email messages. "And the average enterprise emailer spends over $300,000 on those tasks, including the costs of in-house staff, email providers and external agencies."

In a session at BIMS,Luis Hernandez, director of content and marketing for FDAnews, said he adheres to the email-is-bestedict. "We're big believers at FDAnews that you should be sending emails regularly to your prospects—show how much you know," he said. "Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities vs. non-nurtured leads."

Because almost half of emails are now opened on smartphones, making your email mobile-friendly is a must. Hernandez believes publishers should be sending content every day to their audience. And that your archives should be a big part of this, as should keyword research to focus content or choose new topics.

As for email strategies,Robert Skrob, who literally wrote the book on member retention and emails to address it, advises highlighting a problem your audience has and addressing it. "I often discover there are two or three quick wins you can implement within a week [of people joining] to lower churn immediately."
"My top strategy for email copy is to ultimately ask yourself whether your copy answers this one critical question for your intended recipients: 'What's in it for me?'" said Scott Cohen, VP of marketing, InboxArmy. "Whether your copy is short and sweet and drives action on a big call to action or long-winded, funny, and/or informative, answering WIIFM should be your copy driver."

The opportunity to drive even higher engagement—mentioned earlier—will come courtesy of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the study says.And companies seem to acknowledge that, with 96.2% believing those tools can improve the customer experience. But the study also shows that 38% do not yet trust the effectiveness of AI.

"Moreover, marketers are concerned about the challenges of converting to those technologies. Of the 486 marketers polled, 70% are worried about the obstacles in implementing and training. An equal percentage are concerned about the hassles of switching or adding a platform. In addition, 67% fear giving up editorial control, and 54% added investment."

"Like any relationship, be honest and do what you say you are going to do," Hernandez advised. "Be clear." If your first email promises new benefits coming their way, those benefits should come.

Use analytics to identify your best products, he advised. Send your initial email. "If they click on speakers, then your follow-up email should be just about that...," Hernandez said. "Repeat the content on all channels (web, email, social). If customers clicked on livestreaming, send them the new email just about that."

The study also reported that most marketing teams put in more than 36 hours a week on manual segmentation processes related to personalization of content. And senders who preside over enterprise programs spent over 11 hours a week on tasks that can be conducted with automation.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…