The sky’s the limit when it comes to the future of email. We broke barriers and learned critical lessons during political campaigns of 2012—and then brought those best practices to mission-driven organizations across the country. Over the past year, as email volume has reached new heights with campaigns and organizations striving to hit ambitious fundraising goals, we continued to see email evolve.
Google’s new email app, “Inbox”, is revamping how we think about and manage email. Now, rather than just displaying lists of email messages, Google is bundling messages together with thumbnails of images to give the user a clue about the content. They are even venturing into a Pinterest-style grid view of images. Email marketing service providers are starting to offer tools that let you auto-generate these tiles from the images in your email message.
Keep in mind, though, that while people prefer to look at images, they tend to click on emails containing text. Text emails are perceived as more trustworthy. Flashy images tend to be associated with spam websites.
Mobile is growing
More people (51% of Americans) are using a tablet or smartphone to access their email. Make sure your audience gets your message by optimizing your campaign for all types of mobile devices. This means creating emails with a simple, responsive design (i.e. the email message automatically resizes itself depending on the size of the device). By minimizing the number and size of images, you can reduce load time. Keep your subject lines to 35 characters so they’ll work on iOS and Android devices.
The tools for sending email campaigns are getting more sophisticated. Many are starting to offer editors for both mobile and desktop views so you can see what your email will look like on different devices. Some service providers offer the ability to send a photo directly from your phone to a mailing list. This could be helpful during the lead-up to your big fundraising event to generate excitement and enthusiasm.
One of the prominent trends in email marketing is personalizing messages for each recipient. The more you know about your donors, the more you’ll be able to send messages that are relevant to them as individuals. You can send emails based on geography or profile. You can customize how you send your messages, using the delivery method each donor prefers: email, text message or social media.
While micro-targeting can be very effective, people are also becoming increasingly suspicious of websites asking for personal information. You can build trust by providing high quality content and sending it at a reasonable rate: once a week or less.
An evolving medium
Email is the tried and true standby of marketing tools. But even this steady horse is getting a revamp. Email providers are experimenting with how to display and manage messages. Email marketing tools are becoming more sophisticated. And users are accessing their email from anywhere. All of this provides opportunities to get creative with your email strategy.