email marketing strategy

A Curated Look at 100+ Email Predictions

This is the third year we have collected and curated email marketing predictions. It looks as if it’s the year of the platform, the emails sent, and the details/design of their content.

The top 4 categories for 2018 are emails and ESPs, content, data analysis, and segmentation/personalization. This is the same top 4 categories as 2017, but in a different order. Data analysis slips from 1st to 3rd place and is surpassed by emails and ESPs for the number one slot.  

We have summarized the predictions by category and charted all 3 years on the first tab of this spreadsheet, the second tab provides the prediction details, the prognosticators and links to the references.

Emails and ESPs

It’s the end of ESPs as we knew them. No longer do ESPs just talk about sending newsletters. Over the past year we have seen a multitude of deep data integrations with ecomm store data, Facebook and Google ad serving, the inclusion of web based behavioral triggers, landing pages and native CRMs taking the place of simple email lists.

ESPs are becoming command centers for digital outreach on all levels. We will see omnichannel commerce become unified commerce. And with the barrage of emails and other digital communication at an ecomm cadence, the concern becomes the passive opt-out.

To keep consumers engaged, email content will become shorter, more relevant, and easier to act upon.


Content will be the answer to engaging the consumer in 2018. Every trick in the book will be used to get emails open, including typography, interactive features, video, text only emails, and yes, emojis! 🙂 

In the end, what will really succeed, is speaking (writing) in a natural voice, being sincere and consistent with your message, and sending shorter, one goal communications.

Data Analysis

So why has data analysis slipped to third? We think its because the conversation is switching from analyzing data, to the real world application of making platforms more inclusive, content more relevant and moving us forward toward 1 to 1 communications.

Data analysis will continue to improve how we relate to our customers and predictive analytics will lead customers down paths that are yet to be discovered by them. Machine learning and AI are already beginning to handle more of the complex interaction we are taking for granted.

Chatbots will continue to supplement customer service and support. This year they will begin to evolve beyond the hype of machine learning and actually become useful in helping grow sales.


With all the deep data integrations and use of machine learning, hyper-segmentation is possible on a grand scale. Tying this all together will create better personalization and a deeper understanding of customer evolution. A better understanding of our customer’s behavior will create a longer lifetime value.


Marketing automation evolves beyond just a welcome series or a bunch of emails just to keep the sales funnel full. Automation will be used to keep customers once you get them.

Automation using AI technologies will make emails more human. It will also make automations easier to use for small businesses.  


Brands will continue to use Facebook for advertising, but will need to fine tune their messages for higher quality as Facebook puts priority back on the individual and away from brands. Influencer marketing will gain greater attention within the FB walled garden as an influencer’s profile is closer the a friend’s and may be more prominent in a user’s news feed.

Messenger ad testing will become more prevalent and retargeting spends will be optimized.


Security issues for email lists have been somewhat quelled by instituting SSL certificates on web pages and Captchas on signup forms. The conversation is shifting more towards privacy and personal data protection as the implementation of GDPR nears.


Social influencers will continue to play a significant role in marketing, but we will also see a shift toward a more constrained and thoughtful use of these influencers as the political and behavioral missteps of the past bring light to ramifications of poor choices.   


Mobile purchasing will reach a tipping point. While mobile shopping has already reached a tipping point, in the coming year we will see mobile shopping sales come closer to that of desktop.  


Sales will finally realize the importance of a homepage.

List Growth

List growth didn’t even make the cut this year. It seems the conversation this year will revolve more around how to keep your list fresh and engaged, rather than just the size of your list.


We look forward to seeing how these predictions unfold through the year.  Although blockchain technology and email tokens didn’t enter the picture in this year’s predictions, you can bet your last bitcoin this year will see some innovative attempts of trying to use the technology in email marketing.


How to Craft a Good Email Offer

You could say that Don Corleone, played by actor Marlon Brando in “The Godfather,” was the ultimate email marketer. After all, his famous line is: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”


Don’t we hope all our emails will achieve the same result?

So what kinds of offers will prompt your subscribers to open an email, click through, and actually make a purchase?

1) Use the real magic word

It’s no surprise that the most powerful word in advertising is “free.” What is surprising is the fact that many email marketers resist using it in subject lines, afraid their email will be marked as spam.

Fear not, my fellow marketers. As long as your email lists are clean (scrubbed of undeliverables, invalids, inactives and the like), you’re good to go. If it’s free, say so – loud and clear.

The email below, from Land of Nod, not only includes “free” but a few other concepts key to a good offer (more on those later):

Using "Free" in the subject line

2) Create a sense of urgency

In the example above, a sense of urgency is created by inserting “for a limited time only” into the copy. Below, Kohl’s gets right to the point in the subject line: 5 Hours Only … And the subhead drills it home with “Hurry!”

Using sense of urgency in email marketing

Ready for a little R&R? Repetition and reinforcement, that is. Hayneedle starts off with “LAST CHANCE:” in the subject line, followed by “ENDS TONIGHT!” at the top left corner, and “Order by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 11.”

Sense of urgency in email example

3) A (good) picture is worth a thousand words

Much to the chagrin of all the copywriters out there, all the great copy in the world can’t make up for a lousy product image. Case in point, this email from Serious Skincare. I must admit I find it rather ironic that the email touts a “BIG SALE” and is targeted to an over-40 audience, yet features tiny, hard-to-read copy and a minuscule product image:

using images in email marketing

On the other hand, this email from Chico’s may not offer a discount, but it offers a preview of spring fashion – and a compelling image that ties it all together.


4) Offer (real) value

If your budget doesn’t allow for free anything, the next best thing is a discount. Offer a percentage off, dollars off, a special subscriber rate, etc. How you word it is just as important as the offer itself. “Buy one, get one free” has proven to be more effective than “50% off.” (Tip: Be sure your back-end systems can handle whatever you’re promoting.) Test what works best with your customers, then run with it.

5) Claim exclusivity

As in the Land of Nod email above, “exclusive” is another draw. You can have an exclusive product, an exclusive offer (to email subscribers or online only), or an offer exclusive to a segment of your list (top customers). This is what email was made for!

6) Throw in a guarantee

To this day, there still are some people leery to shop online because they’re afraid they won’t be able to return their purchases or they simply don’t want the hassle of returning an item. Remove that purchase barrier by guaranteeing your products. At the very least, make it easy for customers to return items. Include a prepaid packing label and instructions on how to return the item.

7) Lighten up on the legalese

I’ve actually seen a disclaimer that was longer than the email itself. It reminds me of those TV and radio ads where the announcer talks a mile a minute in order to get all the legal mumbo-jumbo into the spot.

Bottom line, the more legal language you have, the less likely your prospect will act on the offer. I call it the “fear factor.” Ask your legal team to move that monster to the website at least the bulk of it.

The Register actually bestowed awards such as the longest email disclaimer and most incomprehensible disclaimer. After reading them, I would have thought they’d have been in the “best spoof disclaimer” category.

The key takeaway to crafting a good email offer?

Not all people shop exactly the same way. An email offer that might be appealing to one person might turn off someone else. That’s why it’s important to feature a few of the elements I’ve suggested in your offer, in the hope that it will attract the greatest number of responses.

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Indiemark. Connect with him everywhere, here.

Three (Mild to Wild) B2B Email Marketing Strategies

We talk a lot about consumer emails here but today we’re looking at three very different B2B email marketing strategies, which range from basic to advanced.

Needless to say, email programs in the business-to-business realm have certain attributes that make them different from the average consumer email program—like longer sales cycles, higher price points and fewer products to sell.

Today, we’ll review a few B2B strategies that may help you to, not only, stay in front of business prospects/clients but help you ring the cash register harder, and more often. Let’s begin.

Push Social Connections (as a Standalone Campaign)

B2B Social Media Email Example

In the example above from Wildfire, the company reached out to its subscribers and clients asking for followers on five social networks.

Aside from the additional reach that social media can afford B2Bs, Wildfire is likely looking to build its social following for two reasons.

First, having a large social following is corresponding more with search results. Google+, in particular, is having a bigger impact on search result. Therefore for companies looking to get more traffic from search it’s important to grow a social following.

Second, a social following does have an impression on people that have just discovered a brand. When someone hears about the brand and is potentially interested in the service they’ll do some research and today one of the basic research steps is finding out how many followers the brand has on social media. It’s a quick and general way to see if others trust the brand; social proof. That said, I’m surprised that Wildfire did not include a link to their LinkedIn company profile of company-sponsored LinkedIn group.

Use Dynamic Content (Like a Retailer)

Dynamic b2b email

Email newsletters are common among B2Bs. They’re a great way to provide useful resources in addition to the services you already provide. You can gather articles that will be interesting and useful to your clients. But everyone does that.

What’s unique about this example from LinkedIn is how they promote the custom aspect of the newsletter. They are using dynamic content, via merge tags, to accomplish this which insanely common in the consumer and publishing worlds but surprisingly not so common in B2B.

If an email is “dynamic” it means that each subscriber could, theoretically, receive a unique email based on their profile or behavioral data.

This dynamic data, which populates the content of an email, could be as straightforward as a photo and contact information of the user’s account manager or, like in the email above, it is based on a user’s LinkedIn profile.

Dynamic content has proven to increase relevancy which can often accelerate the sales cycle and increase upsells. It’s no brainer.

Use Google Remarketing (in Your Emails)

For those who are late to the party, Google remarketing provides marketers with an opportunity to stay in front of prospects who were on their site and then offer those prospects relevant display ads as they browse the web.

Though it is well-documented how retailers benefit from ad remarketing, it is not always apparent how the technology can work for B2B; it’s especially unclear how it can work with your email program.

I would argue that any B2B company that uses a free trial, has a freemium product, engages in active lead generation, or runs lead nurturing campaigns (which I suppose is almost every B2B) can use remarketing in their email campaigns to increase conversions and drive revenue; but they have to be smart about it.

For the most part, users who have accepted your free trial, for example, don’t want to see ads for a product they’re already tested. One of the biggest mistakes in retargeting is ads asking users to take an action they’ve already taken.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t advertise to existing clients, you simply must do so in a way that adds value. One prime example is freemium products. Preaching the virtues of your paid product to your free users (via email and Google remarketing) can help increase upsells.

Likewise, if you’re devoting dollars to bring traffic to a lead gen form, remarketing to those who open but (do not click) on those emails (or bounce from those landing pages) will help you stay in touch with your warm prospects, with a message that is more relevant to where they are in sales cycle. Here’s how it works.

Just like you would do on your website, all you need to do is add a sales-stage-specific remarketing code into the HTML of your emails, and everyone who opens an email, in that list segment, will begin to see those (more targeted) ads all over the web. The benefit here is that you can better focus your Google remarketing efforts based on how far your users are in the funnel. That way, you can ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your remarketing buck.

What are your favorite B2B email marketing strategies?

Please share your thoughts and comment below.

Ben Franklin on Email Marketing

Ben Franklin on Email Marketing

Ben Franklin was a true “Renaissance Man”. He knew quite a bit about many different things and he is one of the prominent figures in American history.

Today, many look back on the writings of Ben Franklin seeking inspiration. The man certainly left wisdom for generations to learn and even in the email marketing world we can learn from him.

Here are a couple of Ben Franklin’s most famous quotes. The lessons are applied to email marketing and how you can use them to inspire change and growth.

“Well done is better than well said.”

Companies are full of people with good ideas. The companies that have people that are doers are the companies that find success.

Become a company that does things with an email program. It’s easy to go through the motions, but if you try new things and do things you’ll find long-term success.

This quote could also mean that the only thing that really matters is the success of a campaign. Now, you might find that some test campaigns fail in the short-term, but the knowledge you gain will benefit sales and profit in the long-term.

Focus on the profit your email program makes. Opens and clicks are great, but always tie them to profit; after all it is the only email metric that matters.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”

This is a great quote for businesses to use in all areas. So often we take inspiration from others and use it to create our own strategies, but the key thing to remember is we need to make improvements on other ideas.

It’s easy to get caught up following the leader. It’s harder to try to do something different, something better. In email marketing it’s necessary to stay ahead of the others fighting for space in the inbox.

We follow trends here on the blog. It’s good to take note of what others are doing. Take the good and make it even better with your own email marketing efforts.

“When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”

This quote is about complacency. Say you have worked hard to find an email template that works really well. It gets people to click and gets them to purchase. It would be easy to just coast on this success, but what got you to this point will not get you to where you want to go.

Maintain the mindset that you need to always look for the next best thing. Not everything you do will improve on what you have, but you have to keep looking for something that might.

That’s the key to changing and getting better. If you don’t find the next best thing someone else will.

“A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned”

For the purpose of email we’ll consider this quote to be:

“A subscriber saved is a subscriber earned.”

List management is a huge part of email marketing. The money is in the list and the better you can maintain the quality of your list the better you’ll be able to profit from email practices.

If your company is generally conservative by nature there is probably room to grow more aggressive with adding names to your list. Try pop-ups on your site and other calls to action.

Actively manage your unsubscribe rates while doing this because you will likely see the rates increase, but the offset will be to your benefit as you gain many more new subscribers and potential customers.

Think of those that unsubscribe not as burdens, but as those that are helping you. These people are telling you that you don’t have to send them emails because they won’t open them anyway. You may only save a fraction of a penny for each irrelevant subscriber, but Ben Franklin said it best when he talked about saving pennies.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

This quote is something to consider for your entire marketing team. The email manager in your company (it could be you) knows everything there is to know about your email program.

When someone asks how to do something it is easy to just do it for him or her. You might save a few minutes in the present, but in the long run you’ll lose time and potentially lose progress.

When you train others in your business to success in email marketing you free up time to explore new opportunities with the program. Teach others. Involves them and move the program forward.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Email is about first impressions. When someone sees your subject line they make a split second decision about opening the email. Your brand name plays a role, but the subject line is important.

Spend enough time figuring out the kind of subject line that not only gets people to open, but gets them to make a purchase. Write something that is worth reading. Be urgent. Write something that sparks curiosity. Help people with the content in your email. Make it worth their while to open the message.


These are a couple of the best quotes from Ben Franklin. He had no idea what email marketing was back when his time, but he certainly understood people and his wisdom still holds truth today.

Use these insights to guide you as you look to improve your company email program.

Maybe one day you’ll be seen as the “Renaissance Man” or “Renaissance Woman” of your generation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Scott Hardigree is the founder of Indiemark. You can connect with him everywhere, here.

Email Welcome Messages – Findings, Samples, and Surprising Results

Welcome Email

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  • Four times the open rate
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What you’ll learn in this whitepaper:

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What Email Marketers Can Learn from E.T.

The world was captivated by the 80’s hit ET; the story of a boy who forms a symbiotic relationship with a visitor from another world. Sound familiar? As marketers, how can we capture some of that movie magic and turn your prospects and customers from an ET (email terrestrial) into an EC (engaged customer)?

The First Encounter
Your visitor arrives; through the galaxy of search, past the constellation of social and the WOM nebula to land on your website. The visitor looks around, is this the planet they were searching for? He has some trepidation about your intentions and offerings; spook him and he may take off in one click. To maximize the possibility of communication, or ensure return visits, make sure that your “welcome to our planet” sign-up proposition is prominently displayed and quickly communicates the value of getting to know you better.

The Personal and Human Touch
Although they might look a bit strange at first. Your new friend is more than just an email address. Once you get to know them better, these ‘email terrestrials’ are more human than you might think. So be sure you get to know them in order to effectively communicate with them. The sign-up process can capture the essential information needed. But as time goes by, you can ask for further preferences and use behavioral data to go from a general messaging to ones that are more relevant and targeted.

Using Special Effects
Special effects can give your messages the pop needed in today’s crowded inbox. Email marketing special effects might include discounts, incentives, extremely personalized messages and mixing it up with great design. But they should support the story. A solid story trumps special effects every time. Without a (brand) story to tell, special effects just seem silly. You might as well be watching the Syfy movie of the week.  So make sure your messaging is has a heart and wow your audience with great effects.

Bad Guys and Bikes That Fly on Their Own
In the movie our friend ET was protected from the evil “task force”. While most of us will not be hiding customers in our closet, there is always the possibility that they will walk into the hands of the competition. So make sure you monitor your foes and have everything in place to be there when the subscriber is ready to fly, such as cart abandonment, sales cycle, and other triggered emails.

Creating a Blockbuster
With a great story and timely personalized communications, you can make your prospects feel at home, begin to build a relationship, and reduce opt-outs. Turning the ETs (Email terrestrials) into ECs (engaged customers) and maybe even make $ 792 million at the box office.