Why data is your friend for email marketing

Get the response you are looking for from your email marketing by following these simple tips from guest contributor, Ash Salleh.

Tami Iseli

By Tami Iseli, 5 minute read

This is a guest post authored by Ash Salleh, Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor


Is there any type of marketing now that doesn’t involve using some form of data as a foundation for building strategy? New technology, new software, and new means of measuring data means there’s a lot of it going around — 1.7MB of data will be created per individual around the globe every minute by 2020.

While data does have its own limitations, obtaining what you need to guide your email marketing campaigns is more accessible than ever before. The biggest benefit data gives marketers is the ability to move beyond widely-accepted rules of thumb for good email strategies and move into methods conforming to your business’ specific needs. Data makes your campaigns truly your own. 

To that end, here are some data-backed general strategies to improve your email marketing benchmarks (you can eventually tweak according to your results).

1. Mobile-first, not mobile-responsive 

Marketing email campaign built for mobile

(Source: Campaign Monitor)

This year, an estimated 72.53% of Australia’s population will access the internet through their mobile device – and that percentage is expected to increase year-on-year until 2021. As internet use moves further and further away from desktop and transitions into putting primacy on portable devices, digital marketing will, too.

Email marketers shouldn’t ignore that. Nearly half of all emails sent around the world are read on mobile, and when looking at Asia-Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand that number rises to 51.21% of all emails read on mobile devices.

That’s why instead of designing your emails for desktop viewing and later adjusting them using marketing software to automatically apply mobile-responsiveness, design them mobile-first. This makes it easier, faster, and more reliable for both desktop and mobile users. It’s the same principle that goes into many modern website designs.

Mobile users will enjoy content immediately suited for a more minimised view without the risk of it breaking and keeping a desktop version. Meanwhile, desktop users can enjoy sleeker design that is easier to read. This increases click-to-open rate, a benchmark widely used as a measure of the immediate response to your emails – meaning they engage sooner due to the ability to view emails immediately.

2. Invite engagement with interactivity

Email marketing campaigns are at their most effective for overall business ROI when built around the goal to get subscribers to engage with and convert through email. It’s why links and calls to action are essential components of email content. However, if you see your click-through rates falling, that means the surrounding content that leads towards your CTAs isn’t engaging enough.

Emails are usually built with the intention to inform subscribers through visuals and text. But it’s also easy for someone to skim an email and exit. That’s why interactive content is rising in popularity: it holds the user’s attention, inviting them to participate in the email, and turning the relationship into a two-way conversation.

Interactive email content increases click-through rates

(Source: Really Good Emails)

Interactive content is anything subscribers need to actively participate in to get the full experience. This is usually done through actions like tapping, swiping, or clicking. It also increases click-to-open rates by 73%. ESPs haven’t caught up yet to the many possible interactive content ideas marketers can think of embedding into an email. However, the simple methods available still work. Some examples of interactive content include:

  • animated GIFs
  • videos
  • polls
  • quizzes
  • surveys
  • real-time bookings
  • slideshows

3. Implement subscribers’ preferred personalisation 

With the sheer volume of data on subscribers and customers available, and the ability to use that data in digital marketing comes the question: how much data is too much?

Personalisation is undeniably the new standard for data-driven email marketing. Personalised emails stand out in a person’s inbox because they are relatable, tailor-made material. It’s proven to improve customer experience across multiple channels (brick-and-mortar stores, websites, social media, apps, etc.) by sending the right content at the right time. In fact, up to 72% of customers will only ever engage in marketing messaging if it’s personalised. But it’s all built on the backbone of tracking user data. 

This is a big concern with email personalisation. There’s a difference between personalisation which improves your standing among subscribers and personalisation which crosses a line into creepy territory. Subscribers want brands to know about their personalities and preferences, yes, but not to the point they feel it compromises their privacy.

How do you strike that balance?

  • Be transparent about the data you collect and what you’re using it for. When giving product recommendations, give a short phrase to indicate how you decided on these products and why, e.g. “We’ve used your previous purchase history to suggest items you may like”.
  • Don’t ask for or use data customers feel is inessential to marketing interactions. This includes things like phone numbers, full address, and anything related to their health.
  • Target appropriate age groups. For example, many parents may feel uncomfortable with personalised targeting aimed at younger children.
  • Ask for consent. Before collecting any behavioural data, inform subscribers that you’ll be doing this and give them the option to opt out.
Graph detailing the reasons that consumers are willing to share their personal data

(Source: SmartInsights)

Once you have a handle on establishing the types of data you’ll collect and what they’re used for, it’s easier to design emails based around the possibilities you have. Being upfront about the data you collect for personalisation doesn’t mean it’ll stifle your creativity as a marketer.

Wrap up

The use of data is twofold when planning a marketing campaign. Researching data-backed strategies like these can give you the framework to build your email strategy. Afterwards, once you’re in the content creation stage, collecting your own set of data on campaign performance and comparing it to established industry benchmarks enables you to further refine each part of your campaign for better ROI.


About the author

Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimisation. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital. 

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