Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is written by Megan Feltes, a sales associate at Emma, an email marketing platform which is now the one we use here at SocialMediaExplorer!

I’ve brought you here today because I care about your email marketing.

If you’ve pulled back on your email marketing efforts — or if you’re using email the same way you were a year ago — I’m here to gently shake some sense into you. This is your email marketing intervention. “But Megan, I’ve heard email is dying,” you say. It’s not. In fact, email still boasts an ROI of over $40 for every dollar spent. It remains the most trusted channel for communication, with 95% of American adults using email and 93% of them subscribing to at least one brand’s list. “But kids these days don’t use email,” you plead. They do. Those pesky millennials refuse to get off email’s lawn, with 95% of teens that interact with a brand via social media also subscribing to the email list.

Email is not dead — it just needs a makeover.

In fact, email volume overall is actually on the rise, meaning more competition in the inbox. More people read email on their phones and increasingly look to interact with brands via social media — and the most active social media users are also some of the highest consumers of email. Add to that their online attention span is shorter than ever.

The email channel is still strong, but your readers have changed. You’re going to have to adapt, too. Consider these three new realities and get ready to shake up your email marketing.

Reaching people on the go

Some email marketers grumble about needing to consider their mobile readers, but, listen, mobile email is a good thing. It means that your messages no longer wait until someone is sitting at a computer, that you’re able to reach them where they are right now. Tiny screens and added distractions do require more thought about design and content, though. Template pixel width, image placement and contrast are just a few things to consider. Additionally, beware of burying your most interesting content and links. People might not scroll to find them. Speaking of links, consider making them a bit larger and more finger-friendly.

Also, remember that tracking mobile readers can be a bit tricky. You can no longer rely on open rates to determine the success of your messaging. Make sure you have other things to measure (shares, clicks, etc.) and be open to looking for trends in new places. Think about pairing your email marketing with a service like Litmus to measure which email programs your recipients use most often, or integrate the links in your email with Google Analytics to get even more data about subscriber behavior.

Email and social, sharing the stage

Social media is not ringing the death knell for email. The channels actually pair very nicely and help expand the reach of your message online. But it’s not enough to just post your own email content socially. The new challenge is getting your readers to engage enough to share your message with their networks. Those shares are powerful word-of-mouth recommendations to a brand new audience.

Make it easy for your current subscribers to share. More and more ESPs are adding social sharing capabilities, but that’s just a start. Find unique ways to highlight your brand and style, and take a cue from one of social media’s strengths: brevity. Scale back on the length of your content and give your messages more punch. And don’t be afraid to ask your readers to share –- you can even track and reward your most ardent fans. Welcome new folks who find you through shared links with open arms, or, even better, with a promotion or special download. Point them to your email signup form and invite them to define preferences right from the start. It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Tackling attention span

Some studies claim the average online attention span hovers around 9 seconds so you need to make an impression right away. Along with some of the content recommendations above, take advantage of one of email’s finest features: the ability to segment your audience and target your messages. It will take a bit of database work, but the end result is more meaningful messages in the inbox and an increase in engagement and trust. Too many marketers miss this point. Sure, it’s faster to dump your content into a template via RSS and press send, but you risk alienating and even boring people. An email address is your ticket into a very personal space. If you consider a recipient’s preferences and treat them with respect, your messages will be welcomed and excitedly anticipated. Yes, there is such a thing as falling in love with an email newsletter that’s done well.

As I mentioned, you can easily find out email preferences through your signup form right at the get-go, and over time, make sure to ask subscribers to update their preferences. You could even send out a short survey a few times per year. And remember that your readers are actually giving you valuable feedback through response data. Dive into those numbers and discover which offers and stories are the winners and losers, and adjust your content calendar accordingly. Give people what they really want, and they’ll do what you want: read, share and purchase.

Lest it bears repeating: email isn’t going anywhere. It remains a vital part of the online experience for the vast majority of people. Still, as the landscape of mobile and social changes, you can be sure to see the role of email change as well. Who knows, we may need to have a whole new intervention in six months. Until then, don’t abandon a viable channel. Instead, get smarter with your strategy.

Megan Feltes is part of Emma’s content team, writing articles and resources for sales leads and prospects, out of the company’s Nashville office. An avid baker, Megan is also always searching for new ways to incorporate Nutella into recipes. She’s also a yoga enthusiast and bears an uncanny resemblance to Julianne Moore. Read more from Megan on the Emma blog. You can also learn more about Emma and try them for free by visiting MyEmma.com.


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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Emily

    Great post, Megan, and I completely agree with you. Email is not going anywhere! Here at Grass Roots Marketing, email marketing campaigns are among the most requested product, and as a consumer myself, I can assure you that I am signed up for and read a number of emails. The key, like you said, is to capture attention and provide information or an incentive that’s valuable to the reader. Our Email Marketing Discover page highlights the benefits of email marketing and can be found here: http://www.grmwebsite.com/email-marketing/ 

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  • james

    The email channel is still strong, but your readers have changed. You’re going to have to adapt, too.subjex