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Email marketing study: How consumers view marketing emails [VIDEO]

Email service provider BlueHornet released a study recently about Consumer Views of Email Marketing, which includes highlights not only as stats, charts and takeaways, but also adds a human touch with a video of consumer interviews (including outtakes!).

The study reaffirms the importance of email as an interactive medium. It also warns that users can tell when email marketers have tried to skimp on making emails look great and work properly, which means that “your time saved is consumers’ time wasted”. Respondents interviewed in the video were unanimous when it came to how to handle an email that doesn’t look right when opened: They simply delete it. Users also expect their email experience to be personalized and valuable so their tolerance for irrelevant content is very low (surprise surprise).

One of the nicest things about this study is the concept behind the study itself. So many studies these days promote best practices born out of the interpretation of data, which is of course super important, but it can also cause marketers to think of their subscriber behavior in terms of ‘stats’ and not in terms of emotional reactions. This study is a nice reminder for marketers to think of their email recipients not only as subscribers, but also as people who expect to benefit in some way from each and every email they receive, whether it be a discount, coupon, product sneak peek, interesting news, or sheer entertainment.

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You’ve Got [Video] Email: Where your email marketing strategy is headed in 2012

If you’re an email marketer, then one of the most crucial questions you must constantly be tackling is how can I make my email more engaging this time? As we’ve said before, user experience trends and content expectations are moving forward at record speed, so it’s crucial to keep at least one step ahead.

One of the rising trends in email engagement is including a video in your message – and we don’t mean a thumbnail linking to a YouTube link. In this Column Five infographic created for Wistia, businesses surveyed indicated that video has become the forefront of content strategy in 2012 email campaigns.

Some of the stats include:

  • Over 75% of businesses surveyed planned to continue (or in some cases, start) using video in their email campaigns in 2012.
  • Of the kinds of video content available, most videos sent to customers via email were training courses, with product demos or product promotions right behind.
  • Close to 70% of respondents believe that including a video in their email messaging has had a positive impact on conversion rates.

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Rich Media: The not-so-secret ingredient to boosting email engagement

The Humble Animated GIF

If you were old enough to use a computer back in the late 1980s, then you’ll remember the advent of the animated GIFs, a file type that flips through two or more images combined to create basic animation. Although they’re no longer considered as revolutionary as they used to be, they nevertheless enjoyed a very long run as part of marketing efforts, including email campaigns.

An animated GIF viewed inside an email.

Dynamic elements such as animated GIFs allowed email recipients to see more than a flat image to represent a product, deal, or ad. Marketers could apply simple animation to graphical elements inside their email messages and display different product angles, color options, and calls to action. Here are some good examples of GIFs use in emails from a May 2012 blog post by Philip Barnes.

For a long time, animated GIFs were all marketers could use to make their emails interactive. The trend caught the attention of industry analysts as far back as 2010, when Responsys published their animated GIF usage findings, concluding that “the increase in usage likely stemmed from the ability of animated gifs to get subscribers’ attention and therefore boost engagement and clickthroughs.”

“We’ve used them quite a lot with various clients over the years,” said Aaron Smith, Director of Creative Technologies at Smith-Harmon, a Responsys company, “and in tests we’ve done, we’ve seen several percentage points higher on the clickthrough front with the animated versions.”(1)

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Email vs Social Media: Guess where marketing dollars pay off

Ding ding ding! In yet another analysis of email marketing versus social media marketing, email comes out on top in several ways. While social media budgets are bursting at the seams, email marketing is still the proven channel to invest attention and spending.

When it comes to commercial reach, email wins hands-down:

  • 75% of online adults “say that email is their preferred marketing method.”
  • In six years, from 2005 to 2011, time spent on reading commercial messages nearly doubled to 30% of total time using email.
  • For all age groups, email topped texts and social channels for commercial media usage by margins in the 70% range.

In truth, the two forms of marketing can and do co-exist, as they serve different purposes and require alternative forms of attention (see the infographic below). For starters, email campaigns are highly targeted and easily trackable while social media campaigns make your brand recognizable.

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