Email Marketing Trends, Insight, & Advice

Email Marketing Trends, Insight, & Advice

Bryan Wade, Salesforce Marketing Cloud's SVP & Chief Product Officer, shares his thoughts on email marketing—best practices, new trends, and a few words of advice to consider before you build your next digital marketing plan.

Q. What are the emerging email marketing trends or factors disrupting the landscape? How are marketers changing their approach to email marketing?

A. Consumers are buying smartphones at a rapid pace. In the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe, between 40-60% of consumers are reading email on smartphones. Marketers must understand which smartphones their subscribers are using and make their emails responsive to that mobile experience. The number one trend I see in the email marketing space right now is redesigning an email completely to improve click-through rates on a mobile device.

We build our email marketing software based on our clients’ feedback, and the top request we’re hearing is that clients want help with mobile templates. We’re partnering with many clients to build new mobile-responsive templates for Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email.

Q. For anyone who’s new to mobile marketing, can you explain the role played by organizations like the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and CTIA, The Wireless Association?

A. Mobile industry organizations are critical because they serve as a noncompetitive place for sharing best practices that turn into industry standards. Mobile marketing is evolving so rapidly that it’s hard to keep track of all the information streams—from newsletters to Twitter feeds to LinkedIn groups. Organizations like these aggregate everything that’s happening in mobile marketing—from the legal side to the marketing side—and educate everyone on what works, what doesn’t, and what’s next.

Q. You’re on the frontline of mobile marketing for businesses. What are the most innovative or clever uses of mobile marketing you’ve seen this year?

A. Flickr and Starbucks are two mobile, cross-channel marketing use cases that come to mind. Starbucks allows you to text in a keyword that prompts an app download. Ten percent of Starbucks’ US commerce is now generated via mobile transactions.

Flickr did something similar. From the Flickr home page, you could enter your cell phone number and receive a text message linking you to the app. Using a text-in campaign to drive app downloads is key because it solves the business problem of capturing attention in cluttered app stores.

I’ve also seen a lot of location-based campaigns. White Castle ran a pilot program where they texted a special offer when you came within a certain proximity of a restaurant location.

Q. Email isn’t the newest marketing communication channel—yet 72% of US consumers say that email marketing is the number one way they’d prefer to receive permission-based promotions from businesses. Why do you think that is?

A. Consumers prefer email marketing because they are in control and they trust brands to respect their preferences. And they’re in control of email because marketers have rightfully given them that control, allowing customers to manage preferences and unsubscribes. Consumers get special offers that they actually want—more so than other channels—and trust that these messages are from the brand. The industry has become so trustworthy and spam is declining because internet service providers have put smarter algorithms in place to block spam and unwanted emails. The bottom line is consumers trust the inbox because marketers respect their permission. There aren’t many other media that allow consumers to manage communication with brands like that.

Q. What does email give customers (and marketers) that’s unique from other forms of marketing?

A. Email marketing appeals to marketers because it’s highly measureable. One can clearly quantify the return on investment for email; that’s not always the case in other marketing channels. Plus, ROI for email marketing happens to be the highest of all marketing channels, and consumers actually convert. In B2C email scenarios, consumers click on an email link, go to your website or app, and buy something—so it drives revenue. High ROI and measurability mean a marketer can take those numbers to a CEO and show the bottom-line impact.

Consumers like email marketing because it lets brands communicate to them as individuals with real-time offers they want to receive. The leading marketers are sending content that’s unique to a consumer based on how they’ve interacted online and offline, where all captured data is leveraged to deliver the right message in real time.

Q. You’ve described email as “the cornerstone of a digital marketing strategy.” Can you elaborate on that and give a real-world example?

A. I love working with different kinds of clients, especially companies who are building their entire business on emails getting to the inbox every day, such as flash sale sites. For companies like these, well over 80-90% of revenue comes from emails driving consumers to click. It is CORE to their business. They are laser-focused on making sure every email hits the inbox, and that it’s the most targeted, relevant message. Companies like these put all the resources they can toward executing on that because they’ll see the lift that’s directly tied to revenue. Email marketing isn’t just the cornerstone of these companies’ digital marketing—it’s the cornerstone of their business.

Companies like this challenge us to constantly improve—to increase send speeds, be more real-time, enhance personalization based on web behavior—and really be on top of our game. A great example of this is when you right-click to download images; Salesforce Marketing Cloud built new technology to retrieve that content at the time an email is opened. You, as a marketer, may send an email on Sunday but your consumer doesn’t open it until Wednesday. A lot can happen between Sunday and Wednesday—that consumer could visit your website, click on different products, maybe even purchase something. If your email on Wednesday doesn’t reflect that consumer’s recent interactions with your brand, it’s no longer relevant.

Q. How are clients using Salesforce Marketing Cloud solutions to deliver an integrated digital marketing experience?

A. A client of ours, a large financial institution, uses Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email as the centerpiece of its digital marketing, but that’s just one piece of an omni-channel strategy. On the web, when a consumer logs in to his or her account, they’re presented with personalized offers. On the mobile app, consumers receive push messages, sent via Salesforce Marketing Cloud's MobilePush solution. In email, the content each consumer sees is based on previous purchases. The company even uses our technology in its ATM machines to present relevant offers.

It doesn’t matter what channel you’re marketing through—email, social, web—every business-customer interaction is an opportunity to customize the message to the individual, because technology allows you to do so. Having one platform like Salesforce Marketing Cloud to manage all these digital interactions is super valuable to any business.


Bryan Wade
Salesforce Marketing Cloud SVP & Chief Product Officer

Bryan is a marketing technology professional with an entrepreneurial spirit and drive to build products that deliver a strong ROI for his customers. Bryan is a proven leader with over a decade of experience in leading teams, delivering projects, and building software products that scale. Bryan believes that meeting with at least one customer every day is the key to keeping perspective and driving his team to always think of the customer first. Bryan is a proud father of two and loves to coach basketball. He coaches both of his kids’ basketball teams and takes his college basketball very seriously. #HoosierNation