When I posed this question at the Sherpa Summit 2011, the following email Ninjas gave me these insightful takeaways. As each Ninja shares a priority focus with me, it becomes increasingly clear that keeping subscriber content relevant and segmented while integrating email, mobile, and social media will be a strategic key to successful email marketing campaigns in 2011. ~ Jeff Ginsberg
There’s a lot that you can focus on and it’s hard to know where to start, and I think the biggest challenge for email marketers in 2011 is prioritizing.
It’s finding that conversation [with] your subscribers that’s going to make sense and get them to convert. Whatever your conversion metric may be – whether it’s sales or just simple engagement, relevance is still going to be the biggest challenge.
I think with all the changes that we’re seeing and the different ISPs it’s going to get more and more important to get more relevant, to get more targeted, segmented, absolutely starting to do some of that lifecycle marketing, automated triggers, real-time marketing, that’s going to make a big impact on people’s performance this year.
I think it’s still content, segmentation content. We’re still blasting too much. We have to think about real relevancy in content and segmentation and give people the opportunity to get something in their inbox [that] they really like so they respond to it and subscribe [to] your list.
How can we adapt email to be a conversation? 2011 is going to be: How do we integrate social media into our campaigns? How do we start that conversation and continue that conversation through an engagement practice, through the strategies that we implement throughout our own programs?
I think one of the things that marketers should be aware of for 2011 are the new changing regulations that are going to affect marketers. A lot of the countries are now pushing opt-in legislation or privacy legislation that will require you to get explicit opt-in permission to be able to email or to even in some cases track individuals.
The biggest challenge other than creating content is now going to be to create content that your customers and readers are going to want to share on all their social networks.
You still see a lot of companies worried about the size of their email lists and how to get people to opt-in and worry about opt-out, when really the shift should be more towards relevant content.
The biggest challenge for email marketers is taking all the things that you learn at events like Marketing Sherpa and bringing it back to your business or your organization and applying it.
[The biggest challenge will be] designing emails for mobile devices. That’s been a huge priority for us in the last year. And our clients [have] been saying, “Come up with ways that we can redesign our emails so that they render on the iPhone.”
The biggest challenge, I would say, is complacency. You’re going to have to start testing more and not being satisfied with what you are currently getting, testing and tracking and seeing what you can do to improve things and increase your revenue.
It’s still going to be engagement. It’s still going to be trying to get your list to respond and do what you want it to do. I think email marketers are also going to have to look at what Amazon threw out there in the past couple of days.
Where probably in the past you had about five seconds for somebody to check out your email, it’s probably less because they’re being rushed, they want to do more, they want to do other stuff, and email is just one of the things they do online these days.