GDPR (or General Data Protection Regulation to give it its full title) is now in full-swing. One of the wider benefits it’s brought with it is forcing people to think harder and smarter about the data they collect for marketing purposes, how they use it and, most importantly from our point of view, why they send email marketing campaigns to their customers.
And getting this ‘why’ right is where we start with everything. Whenever we sit down with new clients we find out why they want to use email marketing, what they want it to achieve, and where they want to be, as a business, in terms of sales, growth or brand penetration.
It’s from here we’re able to help them figure out who their audience are and who buys from them, enabling us to provide better advice, support and strategy. Email marketing has been in the spotlight this year and forcing people to think about this ‘why’ has been one of the biggest benefits to come out of it.
So where do we go next in a GDPR world? Well, no one has a crystal ball and, apart from odd significant milestones like changes to government legislation, the industry has always been about evolution rather than revolution. And it’s this position we find ourselves in now.
Before we take a look at the future, it’s worth learning from the past. I’ve been working at the forefront of the email marketing industry for 15 years. Back in 2003, when I was 24, I was the equivalent to a young Millennial now, working with the more traditional marketing managers and business owners.
As far as those managers and business owners were concerned, what we were doing with email marketing was ‘black magic.’ They knew they should be doing it but lacked the skill, knowledge or capacity to fit it into their every day. Fast forward 15 years and all that’s changed – email marketing is no longer an extension of the dark arts. The 24 year olds of 2018 have grown up with computers in their hands, they are much more technically savvy and, in terms of using the internet and software, much more skilled than their predecessors.
For them, sending out email marketing campaigns using point and shoot systems like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor is second nature and not necessarily something they’d need to outsource. So does that mean, as an email marketing agency, we’ve become irrelevant?
Definitely not. From using dynamic content, building advanced automation programmes, segmenting database, or creating responsive templates, we’ve always made sure we’re two or three steps ahead of where the market is and that’s no different now.
While people have the ability to execute email marketing campaigns in house, they don’t necessarily always have the capacity to do so, the experience of knowing what works and what doesn’t, or the ability to put a strategy together that ties in with all the other marketing channels they use.
And it’s here where we come in.
The market is demonstrating that it needs what we refer to as ‘supported self-service’. This means they have the ability (and desire) to do their everyday email marketing themselves but with the back-up of having email marketing experts like Jarrang behind them. This means they can be responsive to the needs of their business while having experts on hand to help them when they don’t have capacity, they want to push the boundaries with design and development, they need more advanced setups, they’ve got issues with their data management or they need someone to support and guide them.
More and more we’re seeing people use us for consultancy, mentoring, and the more sophisticated elements of email marketing – this gives them the best of both worlds and helps them deliver the best email marketing possible for their business. There are also some things they just won’t have in house to deliver high-quality and effective email campaigns.
Because we’ve been doing this for a decade and a half we’ve developed robust systems and processes to reduce the risk of mistakes being made and to maximise the results an email campaign will generate. This includes everything from knowing the best time to send an email through to our 37-point sign off sheet we go through before we send a campaign to ensure it’s error free, and works across all platforms and devices.
Linked in with this, we also see a future where people want choice to move between different platforms (email service providers), for instance switching from MailChimp to HubSpot. People want the freedom to be able to choose their own platform and engage with those platforms directly with someone there to support them throughout the process.
Historically, we tied ourselves as an agency to just two platforms on behalf of our clients. But we recognise people want the freedom to use platforms of their choice and have changed our business model to ensure we’re able to offer the support our clients need.
Both of these points, having email marketing experts on hand for when they’re needed, and being able to choose the best platform, reflect the need for flexibility and it’s a need we’re excited to meet.
As far as the future goes, email marketing is stronger than ever and, when it’s done right, is can be one of the most powerful marketing channels out there to deliver results.