How email marketing is changing and what marketers should do about it

Find out what's been added to the Email Marketing Periodic Table.

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Kim Davis, editorial director of MarTech, interviewed email marketing professionals at our recent MarTech conference, discussing important changes to our Email Marketing Periodic Table, and, the industry as a whole.

“One of the things that we wanted to achieve by recreating the Email Marketing Periodic Table this year was to provide a guide to success factors, helping email marketers build relationships that are based on trust,” said Jennifer Cannon, Client Success Manager at ShotFlow.

“The table itself is divided into optimization and deliverability so email marketers can understand which parts of email they’re talking about,” she added. “Deliverability might be a little bit more of the technical side, while optimization has a lot to do with the content, subject line, and calls to action.”

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Image: MarTech Email Marketing Periodic Table

The table is designed to give email marketers a roadmap for making email campaigns truly effective. To that end, here are some of the most prominent new areas of focus Davis, Cannon, and the others discussed.

Focus on infrastructure

“It is critical to know and understand exactly how your email infrastructure works,” said Cannon. The technical pieces of email infrastructure — the DNS, feedback loops, IP addresses, mail transfer agents — aren’t the top priorities of many marketers’ task lists. But these pieces are vital going forward.

Putting an effective email infrastructure in place ensures your customers enjoy seamless delivery and easy transactions. Everyone working directly with email campaigns should have a solid understanding of the technical foundations.

“It’s critical to understand how the infrastructure that’s underlying your email program is working,” said Cannon, “so that you can get your emails where they need to be.”

Experimental optimization for accessibility

Due to new technologies and expanding markets, email marketers must have fresh content styles that meet them where they are. This includes segments of people email has left out.

“Accessibility is a topic that everybody needs to address,” said Ryan Phelan, Managing Director of RPE Origin. “If you think about the population and demographics of people on a list, there’s a considerable amount that has disabilities and challenges that don’t involve just picking up the phone and reading an email. It’s an ownership of the email marker to consider not only the people that fit in the box of people that easily consume the message.”

He added, “This is something that you need to account for when you’re looking at font size and color and images and all the different disabilities that can be affected by that.”

Experimenting with new email optimization tactics can help marketers improve customer experience, reaching more people through accessible frameworks.

BIMI considerations

Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI, is a new system designed to let consumers know your brand’s emails aren’t spam messages. They do this by appending the brand’s logo to them.

“There are a lot of hurdles that you have to cross to get there,” Cannon said. “Not every email client is currently using it [BIMI], so it’s up to a brand to decide whether or not it’s something that they want to tackle and implement.”

Many marketers, such as Cannon, recommend trying it out to move toward compliance and better customer identification of your brand. The question is: Does BIMI actually affect email open rates?

“The identification of the brand plays an absolutely crucial point in whether they’re going to be opening,” said Kath Pay, CEO of Holistic Email Marketing. She says adding BIMI is “going to give them the trust it’s going to give them the reassurance it’s going to give them that branding identity.”

Yet the benefits of BIMI, by themselves, may not be enough to drive sustainable success. The body of the email must offer something of substantial value as well.

“It almost becomes an unconscious indicator of message authentication or method of authenticity,” said Phelan. “I caution people with BIMI. If it’s a brand decision, it’s an authentication decision in terms of reassurance, but I don’t think there’s any long-term effect.”

He added, “It’s not just about this element or that element or this thing, it’s about the entirety of what makes up an email, and that’s what I think the table brings home.

New content technologies

Some email marketing platforms offer features such as countdown timers for special offers, abandoned cart messages — there are even instances where the email content changes at the time of opening.

Cannon says this change has been a long time coming: “Once marketers know that you can build like a shopping cart in your inbox, it’s almost like you have a mall and you go to whatever brand you want. You open up your email and can make a purchase directly. That’s a huge win for email marketers.”

These technological changes to email marketing are transforming the landscape, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. In fact, as Phelan argues, they appear to be improving customer experiences.

“What it does is bring more information to the inbox that should be relevant to the end-user and increases what we have said for the last ten years,” said Phelan.

He added, “If you make relevant emails, time after time you have higher engagement rates.”

Watch the full presentation from our MarTech conference here (free registration required).

Snapshot: BIMI

BIMI (Brand Identifiers for Message Identification) is a technology standard that authenticates marketing emails and appends brand-controlled logos to verified messages. BIMI is a low-cost marketing strategy to increase brand awareness and build trust among consumers. Marketers now consider it the standard of email marketing.

Google started rolling out BIMI support in Gmail in July 2021, and other email platforms are expected to follow. BIMI verifies your outgoing emails to prevent fraud, displaying the brand logo next to only authenticated messages.

The DMA Consumer Email Tracker 2021 found that most consumers believe recognizing the brand is the most important factor for opening emails. The subject line content was the second most important factor.

The key benefits of BIMI unearthed by this report include the following:

  • 34% increase in average purchase likelihood
  • 18% increased brand recall
  • 90% increased confidence in email

Although BIMI offers a standard for brand authentication, brands need to decide if it is worth the complicated setup. It depends on how your customers react to it; some segments may respond well to the reassurance and security, but it could be a feature that’s largely ignored in due time. It depends on what works best for your brand. Learn more here.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Corey Patterson
Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.

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