smart emailing strategies

Let's peer into our crystal ball and figure out what are some of the most important aspects of email marketing that will come up in 2016. We already can make a fair amount of assumptions based on current, burgeoning trends. If you want to plan for success in the coming year, choose to focus on these tips during your next email marketing campaigns. Many other companies have used these strategies to great effect.

1. Optimize for mobile.

In 2016, consumers are mobile. It's been estimated by some that more than half of all emails are opened on smartphones and tablets. Other companies estimate that that figure is about 40 percent (but still, it's no small number). If your emails are not optimized for mobile usage, you're likely missing out on a huge chunk of your audience. Ensure that your templates are in one column and that your font size is very easy to read. Here are some iOS guidelines to maximize the "mobile-ness" of your emails. Don't forget Android, too.

2. Send emails when your audience will actually open them.

There's some debate on when exactly that is, but by and large, the concept is the same. Many people believe emails are more effective when sent after eight o'clock and on weekends, when professionals have time to look at their personal emails. Of course, this depends entirely on your audience and whether it's a B2B or B2C type of email.

3. Get out of the subject line "dead zone."

The so-called "dead zone" refers to subject lines between 60 and 70 characters. Emails with subject lines of fewer than 60 characters tend to have high open rates. (Those with 10 characters or less have a huge open rate of about 58 percent!) Emails with subject lines of more than 70 characters had more click-throughs once they were opened. But in that 60-to-70-character zone, the "dead zone," where most marketers feel the most comfortable, engagement drops.

4. If you think you've targeted and personalized your emails enough, you're probably wrong.

Everyone likes to feel like a special snowflake, and your customers are no exception. And increasingly, it's not enough to simply stuff in a name. Hyper-target your email listings based on any or all of the following: where they are in the funnel, their specific interests, products they've liked or looked at, their level of engagement with your company, their demographics, and more. Almost any data you've collected from them can be useful here.

5. Send out emails based on triggers.

This is a bit of a cheat because this strategy relates to the prior strategy: It's about contacting people, not at the right frequency but at the right times. Instead of reaching out to users/consumers once per month or once per week, in other words, it's about reaching out once a user has signed up, after they bought their first product, once they've become inactive, and so on. In a nutshell, the frequency should be just as personalized as the content. This is where your "welcome to the club" and "please come back" emails come from. "Trigger-based" campaigns like this are quickly becoming the norm. If you're not doing it, your competitors are.

6. Show off your brand with "I" words: images and interactives.

Make your emails pretty. Nobody likes big blocks of text anymore. Use images, animations, interactive elements, and excellent UX design to wow your customers. Spend some money on excellent photographs, and get your best designers involved. Some of the most successful campaigns also happen to be the most beautiful.

7. Make sure social media is logically integrated.

I'm frequently astonished by to what extent email marketing and social media management are segregated. If you have two separate teams on two different sides of the building taking care of these functions, make sure they're working together. Your social campaigns need to align with your email campaigns consistently. Also, your emails probably should feature social buttons. It's all under the umbrella of marketing; we're all in this together!

8. Give out cool stuff.

It's an oldie but a goody. In this respect, a 2016 customer is not that different from a 2005 customer. People will almost always love contests, coupons, giveaways (such as e-books), and cool information. Just be sure also that your freebies are inconsistently and irregularly given so that your customers are constantly paying attention.

9. Track changes and learn from your mistakes.

A/B testing is your friend. If you're just sending things out into the void without tracking conversions or learning about your most effective campaigns, how can you possibly improve? You'll just keep investing in less effective marketing when a targeted, high-converting email campaign that should be repeated again and again will just go ignored. Make sure you're looking at the right metrics (both click-throughs and engagement) as well, and don't focus on irrelevant information. Did the customers who you care about do what you wanted? If the answer is no, then reconsider your approach.