Email marketing has gotten so sophisticated and competitive over the past half decade that it’s crucial for a marketer to find the right tools and strategy to carry campaigns forward and reach the right audience at the right time.
Depending on how fast you’re hoping to reach your ultimate marketing goals—and how deeply you aim to connect with each and every potential customer—there are four types of email vehicles you can choose to drive.
1) Batch emails
Batch emails are the Amtrak of email marketing: It’s all about moving as many people as you can from point A to point B. Amtrak aims to please the masses by stopping only in busy cities where they assume their customers want to go. But if a customer is hoping to get from one small town to another, he’s out of luck.
Batch emails are like this; they pander to the lowest common denominator. Fun fact: only 6.8 percent of Amtrak’s lines are profitable.Which is interesting, because only about 6 percent of a batch email’s recipients ever click on it!
As marketers, we get one shot to make a positive impression, lest we risk the dreaded “unsubscribe” or worse—the “spam flag.” Risking it all on a blast to a million people is an amateur approach in today’s sophisticated marketing milieu.
With batch emails, we are only right 6 percent of the time, and that’s a pretty weak number. If your entire email marketing strategy revolves around batch emails, you’re taking the slow train to nowhere.
At Marketo, batch emails are a part of our overall email strategy. Here’s an example:
Figure 1: A Marketo Batch Email Example
TIP: It’s a given that all email marketing software can produce batch emails. The question is, can the software in question transcend the simple batch-n-blast and do more? Even if you’re not ready to move to the next level of marketing, it’s a good idea to invest in software that will give you that option down the line.
2) Triggered emails
We get a little more sophisticated with triggered emails—what I like to think of as “the Uber of emails.” Like Uber, the crowd-sourced rideshare company that has taken the Bay Area by storm, triggered emails give marketers more control over the where, when, and how of their emails.
(I’ll admit, my Uber analogy may be San Francisco–centric, since in this city, I can toss a pebble and hit seven Ubers virtually any time of day. But bear with my analogy…)
Triggered emails, like Uber cars, are responsive to the needs and behaviors of individual customers, making them vastly more personalized than the slow-train-to-nowhere that is batch emails.
Check out this triggered email example from Signature Hardware:
Figure 2: A Signature Hardware Triggered Email Example
TIP: If you’re evaluating email software on its ability to send triggered emails, a word of advice: your marketing team has to have control over these emails so you can change and test them constantly to see what’s working (and what’s not) and the adjust the timing and frequency of triggers accordingly. Read my last post for more about A/B testing, and never work with software that automates those options for you.
3) Nurturing emails
If you live in Manhattan, you can walk out your front door and jump on the subway for a short trip. It’s convenient and useful—the way your marketing content should be. And the subway has the same goal as your marketing: to move you closer to your destination, one stop at a time.
Nurturing emails usually have a series of small goals built in to get each customer to the next stage in her journey without making her feel rushed or pressured. But just like the NYC underground transit system is a web of paths and options, your nurturing emails need to include different routes for different customer personas.
A good nurturing email system, like a well-built subway system, will last for a really long time. The key is to start with robust engine (your software) and build in the right stops (aka email content).
Nurturing emails help encourage continued customer engagement. Here’s a great example of a nurturing email from Dropcam:
Figure 3: A Dropcam Nurture Email Example
TIP: When you’re evaluating a marketing software vendor on its ability to handle nurturing emails, make sure you look at ease of use. Your focus should be on building out your library of email content—not trying to figure out how it works.
4) Template emails
Template emails are like rental cars: you can customize them to your exact needs.
In a larger organization, marketing is often in charge of the overall message, but other teams—sales, customer service—still need the flexibility to deliver ad hoc messages of their own. This requires flexibility in your marketing software.
Here’s an example of a template email used by sales:
Figure 4: A Marketo Template Email Example
TIP: If template emails are important to your organization, make sure your software not only supports them, but tracks them in the same way your other emails are being tracked—opens, clicks, unsubscribes, results.
Regardless of the degree of sophistication of the email marketing vehicle you choose, be sure that your emails can be mobile. VentureBeat reports that 65 percent of all email gets opened on a mobile device first, so if your email doesn’t display well on mobile, you’re going to crash no matter what kind of marketing vehicle you’re driving.
Make sure you check out Marketo’s Consumer Engagement Marketing products to see how we support all four of these types of emails.