Econsultancy published their 2012 Email Census report today, 83 pages of analysis of the email industry based on a survey of email marketers.
The largest increases were in campaign optimisation (+13%) and social media integration (+12%).
The increase in focus on Social Media Integration is no surprise given the amount of opportunity and buzz in this area. Most marketers have taken the first step of integration, adding ‘share with your network’ buttons into emails. In many cases these are languishing down the bottom of the email and generating little more interest than recommend friend links. This first step of integration will turn out to be a small part of the social integration puzzle. Integration must go much deeper, both in terms of technology and marketing, improving messaging across multiple channels. A big growth area is social sign-in rather than registration. This makes it easier for customers to provide their details for email programmes and this approach has been show to increase sign-up rates.
Email is continuing to be the channel for conversion and how social media fits in the marketing mix is still rapidly evolving as both marketers and consumers evolve and mature the use. We will see social being important for initial customer acquisition, due to both the impact social presence is having on search results and the natural viral nature of social. A key aim of any social programme should be to gain email permission from the fans, as the means to monetize the community and conversation.
Mobile too is moving rapidly with 14% now using device recognition. Whilst the first need was to understand how many emails are read on which device, this is already becoming less valuable. Its clear now for any marketer that between 20% and 40% of their emails are being read on smartphones. The benchmark stats show that iPhone and Android devices are musts for email compatibility, with currently unclear futures for Windows 7 and Blackberry.
Many consumers are living a multi-screen life meaning the mobile understanding has to go further, drilling down to segments and individuals to determine if mobile under or over-performs desktop and what mobile says about send timing. This needs metrics beyond campaign averages; rather segmentation of campaign results by device is needed.
Then the bigger mobile challenge is what happens beyond the email click. Consumers will be expecting usable web experiences and mobile compatible websites once they click through. Expecting consumers to keep the email for later viewing on a desktop will cease to be an option.