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Remember way back when email marketing was pronounced dead? I first remember hearing this in 2009 or so – so many times, actually, that I started to believe it. But instead of giving it a tombstone, many companies started to tweak it, smarten it up, and keep using it with great effectiveness. How?

They started talking advantage of advances in the ease of email design, and the ability to automate triggered emails, then sprinkled creativity and Imagination, Willy Wonka-style, into their campaigns. Marketers, for good reason, want to be on the cutting edge of technology and use the latest and greatest tools. However, as advertisers and marketers have come to understand: Email may be thought of as an old rusty sword, but it’s actually a lightsaber that can contend with any other new and dazzling marketing technique.

Why? How does email marketing keep escaping death at every turn? There are a number of reasons, but let’s look at the two primary reasons, which are actually quite simple:

  1. Email creation no longer takes a high skill level of coding and design. Emails can easily look like real landing pages in essentially every browser and device. These days we even see carousels, video, and gifs in emails.
  2. Emails can work on triggers. This gives marketers the ability to automate communication without someone culling through lists and sending out the old-school “blast” style campaign.

email marketing ideas

Take advantage of accessible, high-quality design

The ability to craft a beautiful, attractive email with strong calls to action and messaging is no longer limited by design constraints. It’s a creative thinking game now. Any email service will provide more templates and easy CSS editing than you can get your head around – which, at this point, is a great problem to have. The issue has moved away from: How do I create this email with tools older than stones and sticks? It’s now: How do I best take advantage of all eye-catching possibilities to match my messaging, look and feel, and call to action?

Pretty much regardless of what email service you’re using, whether it be in-house or a third-party provider, freedom in the design of emails is basically that of designing a landing page. This not only allows for attractive content, but it gives your target audience a custom feel. Fully 70% of people prefer to do business with a company that has content that is or appears to be personalized. But even if you’re sending out a general first-time message to a potential customer, you need to start by taking advantage of creative designs, the look of a website right in their inbox. Then once they’ve clicked that CTA, and come to your site, you can enter a more advanced phase: personalization and triggers. This is where the payoff happens, as you’ll see conversions rise dramatically.

So let’s look at number 2…

Use triggers and personalization

Triggered emails and drip email campaigns are essential to retaining customers, nurturing them, and providing personal content once they’ve clicked your email and begun their journey to your site.

This is another way that email has evolved over the years and yet another example of its current healthy life. Triggered emails are an expansive opportunity to reach the right customer, with the right message, at the perfect time.

Once you’ve got your customers in your email list, you can trigger specific emails based on behavior if you’re able to capture that info. This way you can send related products, relevant news, ebook downloads, sky’s the limit – but even if you are only able to capture their email through a form or signup page, you can begin triggered emails. Cart abandonment is a great opportunity for triggers. For example, a series of emails providing enticement to return and finish the purchase, and a second email later offering a discount. The personalization grows, it’s automated, and it’s hitting their inbox. Setting up triggers to continue to hit those oft-checked inboxes will bring visitors back, make purchases happen, and, if nothing else – keep your brand at the front of their mind.

As I stated, personalization is key. To bring home the point, here’s a personal example of how creative thinking and smart advertising can use email triggers in a most personal and effective way.

A couple of years ago, I took a summer vacation road trip where I booked a couple of places to stay in advance through a travel website. Afterwards, all the standard post travel booking triggered emails came as they usually do: Want to rate your hotel? Here’s a discount for a future booking! And so on. All effective, all personal, and a great example of solid individual marketing based on the trigger types they set up. But here’s where they got me. One year, a full year after the trip, I got an email with a picture of the place I stayed, a reminder that I took that trip, and an offer to get back out on the road and stay at that place I rated highly a year before. I was beyond impressed. Not only did the email hit me on an emotional level bringing back memories, it made me feel like they actually knew something about me and my interests. Of course I must mention, in relation to point number 1, that the email was crafted beautifully with graphics, great copy, and made me feel like I had just gone to their page, when in reality they brought their page to me.

As effective as that was, the mechanics were very simple: Use the ability to create attractive emails, and set up triggers so they hit customers at the right time. Do it effectively, and you can impress even a marketer who studies these things every day. Use the technology of easy email creation and simple triggers to creatively keep pushing those messages to the often visited inboxes. Loyalty and conversions will follow.