Tamara Gielen has over 10 years of experience in online, email and direct marketing. She is the author of the leading email marketing blog Be Relevant!, the founder of an international email marketing community of over 4,700 members and a regular speaker at international conferences.
This week Tamara is visiting our organized iLive Internet Marketing conference in Riga. We’ll definitely report out about it in our blog, but we’re offering you an interview with Tamara to find out new trends, tips and tricks for both, email marketing newbies and experienced practitioners.
The way you talk about email marketing lets me think you are really passionate about what you do. Why email marketing? What do you love about it?
Back in 2001 the company I was working for started to use email to invite prospects to demo sessions of our software. In the beginning we sent out our campaigns via Outlook with 500 email addresses in the bcc field and soon found ourselves blocked at some of our most important clients. That’s when I started to read everything I could find on the topic of email marketing and really developed a passion for the channel. Why? Because email is a channel that is super measurable, fast to deploy and extremely effective.
What should an email marketing campaign be like to catch your eye?
It should contain content that I care about. I don’t get overly excited by beautifully designed campaigns that don’t offer value or relevance to me.
How would you persuade an old-school offline marketer to include email marketing into his overall marketing strategy?
I would show him how fast I can deploy an email campaign, show him who opened the campaign, who click on which links and what they did after they landed on the landing page. And then I’d tell him how much it all cost. If he’s been sending offline direct marketing campaigns, I’m sure he’ll see the value of email marketing pretty soon.
What are three pieces of advice you could give to an email marketing newbie?
- Don’t look for shortcuts when you’re trying to build you list, it takes time to build a quality list. Promote your email program prominently on your website and explain to potential subscribers what the benefits are of subscribing to your list.
- Make it crystal-clear to your subscribers what you want them to do next, after they have opened your email. If they don’t know what is expected of them, they won’t take the required action. So, if you want them to buy your product something, tell them to “buy now”.
- Don’t send everything to everybody. Target your messages to the right audience and provide value and relevance in each email you send to your subscribers.
And to an experienced email marketer? (as we know, no one knows everything)
- Look past open and click-through rates and focus on the metrics that really matter to your business: how is email contributing to your overall business results?
- Don’t just send ad-hoc email campaigns but look at the entire customer lifecycle and identify opportunities to integrate and maybe even automate your email campaigns into this lifecycle.
- Test, test, test. Evaluate the results of past email campaigns and take note of what has worked in the past. Then start testing these elements in your future campaigns. Only by testing will you be able to increase your response rates.
What are the most common mistakes you have noticed in email marketing campaigns?
- Not doing any segmentation and just sending everything to everyone.
- Renting or even buying email lists and then expecting good conversion rates from campaigns sent to these lists.
- Not making it clear what the email is about (subject line), and what is in it for the reader.
- Content that is focused on the sender instead of the recipient
- Not optimizing email campaigns for image blocking and mobile readers
What do you think about actual trends? What are the must-haves of email marketing this year?
- Mobile: Make sure your email campaigns are optimized for mobile. More and more subscribers read your emails on mobile devices these days, which not only means that they are reading them on smaller screens, but also your email is “consumed” faster than on a desktop. Marketers need to adapt their designs and messages accordingly.
- Lifecycle and triggered messaging: marketers should identify key moments of truth in the customer/buying cycle and identify opportunities to help them go through the sales funnel faster by sending messages at those moments when the subscriber takes (or doesn’t take) a certain action.
We have launched a new Mailigen Drag’n’Drop template editor where the email template can be easily designed and created by moving, copying and deleting content blocks. What do you think about our new principle that even a causual marketer without specific HTML knowledge can be a template designer?
A number of ESPs have gone in this direction and I think it’s the way forward for all ESPs. Most marketers don’t have HTML knowledge and want an interface that is easy to use.
How important it is to personalize email campaigns? Recently we launched the Mailigen dynamic content feature allowing addressing each subscriber individually by building multiple versions of targeted messages based on specific segments, criteria or attributes. How should marketers use this tool?
I think this is a great feature and marketers should take advantage of this functionality to personalize their messages. However, in reality, I don’t see a lot of marketers using this functionality because it takes a lot of time to create content for all these different segments. When the process can be automated (e.g. content is pulled from a content management system and created on the fly) then the benefits are enormous. I’ve seen dynamic content be used very effectively in the e-commerce and travel sector mainly.
At the end
Tamara, thank you very much for opinion and ideas you shared with us! Email marketing is rapidly growing marketing channel, so it’s essential for every marketer to be aware of the newest technological features and the most sophisticated strategies.
Marketers, hope these fresh ideas will enrich your marketing plans! Follow our blog posts and you will find other interviews with the world’s greatest email marketing experts, such as our previous interview with Mark Brownlow.