Do Your Emails Have Stopping Power?

Email has been around since before the dawn of the Internet. And over those many years, people have grown (or become) more cautious and skeptical of the influx of marketing material that reaches their inbox.

But email marketing has always been a reliable way for marketers to connect with customers. It’s been our hammer—the one tool we know will always get the job done. With more and more customers growing tired of inbox inundation, does 2015 mark the year when email marketing dies? Is it time to put the hammer back in the toolbox?

Hardly. While email marketing is older than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, it still remains an effective way to grow your customer base:

  • eMarketer cited email marketing as the most effective digital marketing channel in the US in 2014.
  • More than 50 percent of people surveyed by HubSpot say they read most of their emails.

But although having your emails read is your ultimate goal, you have to first get the reader’s attention. In the world of the email inbox, you have seconds to capture attention and engage, or you’re off to the trash with the rest of the spam. Companies holding onto old-school approaches to email marketing will struggle to see the hoped-for return on investment in email marketing.

But for those willing to constantly innovate and try new approaches, the opportunity has never been greater for companies to grow with effective email marketing.

 

Is your email marketing optimized for the distracted 21st Century customer?

These days, a majority of people read emails on mobile devices, in addition to their desktops. In one way this is a huge benefit to business. You have the opportunity to reach and connect to your audience 24/7. But there is a downside: your target audience has never been as distracted as it is today.

Some companies are effectively using imagery to add “pop” to their emails, but can these images compete with the scrolling reader? Do they really have that stopping power you need to win in the inbox?

 

Here’s a question: What do you do to make sure readers stop and take notice of your emails?

  • Do you use plain-text emails? While simplicity works well in many venues, this doesn’t apply to emails. With today’s technology, the argument for text-based emails is no longer justified. Most devices and browsers can handle more sophisticated formats, and 88 percent of email recipients say they prefer HTML to plain text.
  • Do you use images? Images within emails are far more likely to be read than emails filled with endless sentences.
  • Do you optimize for mobile? Your audience is reading emails using touchscreens, and people love to scroll in a fury. If the screen cuts off half your content, you’ll lose credibility and the reader’s attention.

Want to know why email marketing has miraculously remained effective, despite all the significant shifts in technology and customer behavior? One word: versatility.

Email delivery is extremely versatile. For every new technology introduced (responsive design, video, HTML), email marketers have adapted. But we must never rest on our laurels. Methods that worked last year may be completely ineffective in 2015.

 

So how can you get readers to take notice? Say “goodbye” to static and “hello” to interactivity.

As you look to breathe new life into your email marketing strategy, keep in mind these factors:

  • Your readers may need something more than static images to stop and say “Ah.” Today’s consumer wants and expects a richer visual experience from all forms of communication.
  • You don’t want to inundate your emails with large files that slow down loading times and turn away your audience.
  • Any technology you introduce into your email marketing campaigns should be supported across a variety of browsers (Chrome, Explorer, and Firefox) and email clients.

 

What’s old is new again.

When considering these factors, one technology seems to make the grade 100 percent of the time: GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) images. You may be familiar with GIFs as those seemingly static images that have the power to move. In fact, GIFs have been around for decades. But despite its age, the mighty GIF has endured and even thrived in recent years.

In my next article I’ll discuss why GIFs can instill much needed stopping power into your emails. I’ll also discuss best practices for using them to your advantage in your next campaign.

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