In With the Old for a Happy New Year

Luke Lloyd, Marketing Strategist

Luke Lloyd, Marketing Strategist

Do you wince at the thought of deleting an unengaged email subscriber? View preference forms as an unnecessary step that thwarts your efforts to communicate with your audience? Many digital marketers feel that way. But changes, both legally and from internet service providers, will require you to give these strategies some attention in 2018.

There are more gates on the email inbox – and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So during the post-holiday slow period, start thinking about who is on your list and how to engage with them.

Don’t Hesitate to Scrub Your List

You can’t keep putting off a good list cleaning. You may be thinking that you can just hold on to those unengaged users, expecting them to convert from that magical Black Friday email. Rethink that strategy. Return Path recently reported that ISPs are beginning to use engagement data to notify users of their engagement levels with each company and ultimately make it easier for them to unsubscribe. Engagement data is already a huge factor in inbox placement, so saving those unengaged recipients for a magical sale can cannibalise deliverability for your active users.

Why not get ahead of the imminent inbox changes and start the year by defining your active contacts? If you’re unable to get a user to open an email in 25 attempts or within 3 months, consider starting the year with an email to this group telling them they’re about to get dumped. Yes, most of these subscribers won’t open. But for some, you’ll pique their interest enough to get them to open your message.

This is the perfect opportunity to outline the benefits of receiving your emails and give users the opportunity to opt back in. No email marketing manager likes to remove email addresses, so be sure to optimise your website and transactional emails to offer plenty of options for the user to opt back in down the line. Pop-ups are a great mechanism to drive people back into your database.

For those operating in the European market, GDPR will send many organisations down a similar route. The introduction of opt-in confirmation emails will naturally mean many of those unengaged contacts are unlikely to confirm and will thus be excluded from future activity. Many organisations are still defining their strategy on the subject, but Manchester United took an innovative stance.

Manchester UnitedThis leads me nicely on to my next point.

Will 2018 Be the Year of the Preference Page?

The preference page certainly isn’t new to email marketing, yet only a fraction of brands fully commit to offering customers the opportunity to choose what content, and how much of it, to receive.

As I mentioned above, ISPs are proactively changing the email marketing goalpost by ensuring that engagement data is at the forefront of inbox delivery and user convenience. This means you must be mindful of your sending frequency and ensure your campaigns are targeted to keep engagement levels high and the ISP prompts away.

The daily newsletter is likely to fade away with these changes unless you set expectations with the contact at a preference level. Be sure you clearly define to the consumer the purpose and frequency that comes with ticking that box. Over at Litmus, they do a great job with this, clearly defining the benefits to the user and frequency, where applicable.

LitmusAnd this concept can easily be transitioned over into retail with your weekly New Arrivals messages, pay-day price changes, new blog posts, in-store events, VIP club emails, competitions – basically anything that customers might want to see at regular intervals or puts them one step ahead. Automating as many of these options as you can will make life easier as users opt in and out of your segments and lists. You can also make the emails targeted by leveraging recommendations and taking the best products based on a set of criteria or using predictive analytics.

The preference page will become normal practice in Europe, so expect preference page completion to go through the roof in this region. Rather than seeing it as a hindrance, we should embrace the fact that consumers will be expected to opt in and update preference pages. It will be time well spent making a page that wows the recipient. If completion rates are still a concern, consider incentivising preference page completion with a discount code or other offer to encourage completion.

ISPs are only going to increase their use of engagement data this year, and you must follow suit. Monitoring unresponsive contacts, managing your sending frequency and using relevant messaging should be at the top of your agenda for the coming year.