(This post originally appeared on Inc.)
Let’s admit it: our email marketing isn’t that great.
I bet your company, like mine, is sending out bulk emails – a newsletter, an announcement, a product promotion – like we’ve all been doing for the past ten years. Like many of my clients, my company uses an email marketing service for newsletters. We have a database and a few spreadsheets with our recipients that we upload. Our “personalization” is nothing more than inserting a salutation field like “Dear Jerry” or “Hello Pam” along with a custom signature. I also bet you’re using your internal email – like we are – to pass around documents and files as attachments for comments and edits. And that’s about it.
Sound familiar? I thought so. But we don’t have to be doing it this way. In fact, some very smart companies are taking advantage of a newer (actually it’s been around a few years but now catching on) email marketing innovation. It’s called dynamic emails and now Google is getting on board.
The company, in a blog post last week announced that beginning July 2nd it would be supporting dynamic email in Gmail and its G Suite business applications across all domains. Why is this important? It’s because all of our emails need to step up to dynamic email if we want to keep pace with our competitors…and the times.
If you don’t believe me then check out this great blog from marketing service Hubspot’s Amanda Zantal-Wiener, where she gives a few great examples of companies already doing this, and doing it well. For example, if you make a restaurant reservation on Open Table, you’ll get an email with all that information in it and even after your meal you can rate it and give comments right from the email. Music streaming service Spotify sends out an email to listeners of certain artists based on their preferences and listening habits, offering them tickets and promotions to the musicians they like. Amazon (of course) sends messages offering multiple product suggestions based on the stuff you already bought…or were just searching for.
These emails are “dynamic” because they’re not only personalized information about you and your latest browsing activity but they also embed a web page experience within the email with great graphics and ways to act – buttons and links – so that you can buy stuff or give feedback or schedule a visit right from the email. No landing page required. No additional work needed.
Actually, that’s not true. There is some additional work.
Before we get ahead of ourselves know this: dynamic emails don’t just happen automatically. It’s a great thing that Gmail is now supporting this technology, as well as other marketing and CRM platforms like Hubspot, Salesforce and Marketo to name a few. But “support” means those platforms will only enable and recognize dynamic emails. You, however, still have to do the heavy lifting.
That means you will likely have to engage a developer. You will need to create templates for both internal (i.e. comments on a Google Doc created by a fellow employee right from within an email) and external marketing communications. You will have to leverage the programming tools provided by your customer relationship management application or other information stored in your ecommerce or collaboration systems so that the data can be turned into a personalized message. It will also require lots and lots of ongoing TLC – that’s tender loving care – because you do not want to be sending out emails with bad information to your customers and community.
For my company the uses are obvious. If someone requests a whitepaper, views a blog, sits through an online demo or attends a webinar I could be creating very personalized messages that are automatically sent back to the visitor which include this information and then provides an easy way to request more information, schedule a follow-up call or sign up for our products and services. Once someone becomes a client, that same user can receive very customized and dynamic info depending on what they’re doing with the software we provide.
Still getting those old-school “Hello (Insert Name)” emails from people trying to sell you stuff? Doesn’t that look old compared to the messages from companies like Amazon and Open Table? Aren’t they kind of annoying too? Now, imagine how your recipients feel when they’re getting the same from you. If that doesn’t prompt us to significantly consider a move to more dynamic email communications I don’t know what will.