The changing face of email marketing

We recently asked Fiona Bateman, Key Account Manager here at affilinet,  about her experience with the email channel, how it’s changed and what the future holds.

How has the perception of email as a channel changed in recent times?

Many advertisers have shied away from email in the past due to poor quality and low conversion rates.   However, recently there has been a distinct shift of focus from volume to quality. Instead of measuring the strength of an email campaign on open and click rates and using earnings-per-click as a metric, the conversion rate has taken a much higher precedence in measuring the success of a campaign.  For example, email has always been a popular channel for lead generation because it isn’t incentivised but it’s important that the email publishers providing the highest quality of leads and conversion rates are rewarded.

So how can advertisers incentivise to ensure they are getting the highest quality possible from their email campaigns?

It is essential for advertisers to provide lead-to-sale conversion rates to ensure there is the visibility and incentive for affiliate managers and email marketers to really optimise their lead generation and email activity. Predominately, traditional email publishers have favoured the CPM model which removes the incentive for both parties to produces the best results that we see with the performance model.   This is partially due to email being very similar to content sites in their position in the consumer journey. They often drive a lot of traffic initially but people leave the site to search for a voucher code or use comparison sites (yes, this argument again!). There are, however, ways of getting around this.  Freemax Media, for example, have tackled this issue by allowing advertisers to opt for a hybrid payment model.  For advertisers that they send large volumes of traffic to they work on a hybrid cost-per-click basis plus a CPA or percentage of sale.  Not only are they still incentivised by the performance based element but they also eliminate a lot of the risk of sending high volumes with no reward.  By building up good relationships with advertisers and proving your quality of sales/leads this commercial model can be mutually favourable for all parties involved.

How can advertisers harness technology and design resources to optimise their campaigns?

Third party email publishers have vast amounts of technology available to them that, when used strategically, can really help optimise an email campaign.  Small things such as using subject line personalisation, making sure the email lands in the inbox before 9am and using deep links to go straight to the basket or sign up page can really maximise conversion rates.  Think about what your objectives are from your email campaign and how you can be smart about achieving these.  If it is a cost-per-sale campaign consider using trigger paths by re-mailing those records that clicked on a department or product with follow up emails or alternative suggestions as a further attempt to convert the record.  If it is a lead generation campaign utilise bespoke landing pages and, where possible, provide unique telephone numbers via a network’s call tracking technology to minimise site leakage and offer another route to market ensuring you’re generating all potential revenue possible from that one record.

Looking to the future, what’s next for email?

Unsurprisingly the volume of emails read on mobile devices is rising. Approximately 34% of emails are now opened and read on a mobile device which is a large enough proportion for advertisers and email publishers to be adapting to this shift.  It is vital that the email creative is designed and coded with mobile users in mind which means rendering, copy and imagery all have to be considered and optimised for all viewing devices.  It is essential that users are still able to engage with the email the same way they would via a desktop.  The landing page will also need to be considered and, if the advertiser has an m-commerce site, a tracking solution will have to be in place.  Large publishers such as Freemax Media are beginning to offer specific targeting for records that always open their mail on a mobile device allowing opportunities for advertisers to promote specifically mobile products such as their apps via this channel.

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