It’s a safe bet that you want to be more than just average. And it should go without saying that you’d rather be an email marketing success than a failure. Unfortunately, most email marketers seem to be stuck somewhere in the middle.

We’re here to give you some advice on how to get unstuck and take your email strategy to the top of its game.

According to survey results featured in the report Inbox Insights 2022, 72% of email marketers feel their efforts are only “somewhat successful.” This would suggest they’re keeping the lights on and taking care of business, but they aren’t blowing anyone away with ideas and results.

However, the report also found that 19% of email marketers believe their strategy is “very successful.” That begs the question… “What the devil are these teams doing that the rest of us aren’t?

We uncover the mystery inside the pages of Inbox Insights 2022, and we’re giving you five major clues about successful email marketing in our infographic on the habits of highly successful email marketers.

The Inbox Insights infographic

successful email marketing

What can we learn from successful email marketers?

While every industry, brand, and email strategy is different, there are always some best practices that can be applied to us all.

Let’s dive into some of the biggest takeaways from the Inbox Insights 2022 survey results.

1. Optimism leads to email marketing success

An impressive 97% of best-in-class email marketers say email will be “critical” to the success of their marketing strategy in 2022. Essentially, that means they know successful email marketing is directly connected to the success of other marketing channels.

That’s probably true of most marketing strategies. However, email has become so ubiquitous in digital marketing that it’s easy to forget how important the channel is to your success.

It’s a little bit like the parable of fish in water that David Foster Wallace made popular in a 2005 commencement speech:

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”

David Foster Wallace – Author

Email is so ingrained in our workdays and personal lives that it surrounds us. We don’t even realize its impact. So, start by believing in email. That way you’ll be more likely to use the channel to its full potential.

2. Increasing email engagement is vital

Even those with successful email marketing strategies have room for improvement. That’s why increasing email engagement was the top challenge for both best-in-class marketers and all respondents who participated in Ascend2’s State of Email survey.

While 46% of best-in-class marketers chose increasing engagement as a top-three challenge, the number rose to 55% for all respondents combined.

These are the top five elements that highly-effective marketers see as the best way to increase email engagement (respondents chose up to three options):

  1. Content quality (64%)
  2. Personalization (59%)
  3. Responsive design (35%)
  4. Calls-to-action/CTAs (34%)
  5. Subject lines (32%)

For help understanding how to optimize email marketing campaigns for better engagement, read this report, The path to email engagement. From subject lines to send times to email client usage, get a global perspective on how international audiences engage with email.

3. Email personalization is powerful

According to the Inbox Insights 2022 survey, only content quality beats the power of personalized emails in terms of tactics for improving email engagement. Plus, you could easily argue that personalizing content is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your email campaigns.

That’s likely one reason why best-in-class marketers are pursuing new easy to bring personalization into their email strategy. The Inbox Insights survey found that personalization is the top trend among the most successful email marketers. Nearly half (49%) are implementing more personalization in the coming year.

It’s not just our research revealing the importance of personalized marketing. Take a look at these compelling stats:

  • 71% of consumers expect brands to personalize marketing content. (McKinsey & Co., 2021)
  • 91% of consumers prefer personalized shopping experiences. (Accenture, 2018)
  • 90% of leading marketers say personalization contributes to profitability. (Econsultancy and Google, 2017)
  • 61% of people expect brands to tailor experiences to their personal preferences. (Google/Greenberg, 2018)

Email personalization could be one of the quickest and most effective ways to take your strategy to the next level.

4. Dynamic content sets emails apart

Dynamic email content that includes personalization is an advanced tactic that many successful email marketers are using.

84% of best-in-class marketers say they are implementing dynamic content into their email campaigns. That includes one-third who say they use dynamic email content “extensively.”

Dynamic content has the ability to update every time a subscriber opens a message. This type of email technology also improves content quality by adding interactivity, personalization, and relevancy to the campaign. Whether it’s dynamic order tracking for transactional emails, store locators, dynamic imagery, or any other element – these are the kinds of campaigns that stand out in the inbox.

5. Conversions are the best KPI of successful email marketing

Of course, the big question is how do best-in-class marketers know that their email marketing strategy is truly successful? They’ve got to measure it, right? But how?

41% of respondents chose conversion rate as the best metric for measuring the performance of email programs in 2022. Thanks in part to Apple Mail Privacy Protection, open rates and click-to-open rates (CTORs) are declining in importance. So, marketers are going deeper to measure email’s success.

Using the conversion rate as a key performance indicator (KPI) makes sense because it proves that your subscribers are taking the desired action after they get your message. The trick is determining which actions qualify as a conversion.

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