How to Get More Value from Your Email Marketing Tech

Technology's essential to content marketing, but the complexity can leave you struggling to keep pace with innovation.

August 28, 2019

6 Min Read
Email marketing

By Jodi Harris

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the latest technology solutions that can boost your content marketing success, join us at Content Marketing World Conference and Expo, Sept. 3-6. 

Email may be an old dog in digital marketing channels, but it continually delivers new tech-driven tricks to enhance engagement and deliver content and demand-gen campaigns efficiently.

Of course, email marketing’s robust and sophisticated solutions also have led to a lag between marketers’ eagerness to put the tech innovation in play and their effective use of the tools.

I put an email marketing thought leader in the hot seat, asking about what marketers want most from the technology, how they can get it, and trends they should know.

Meet the Expert


CMGroup Global’s Shane Phair

Shane Phair, chief marketing officer, CMGroup Global, which oversees three email marketing platforms – Campaign Monitor, Delivra, and Emma

Background: Experience in marketing, sales, demand generation and enterprise integration 

Podcast playlist: Call to Action by Unbounce; Stuff You Should Know by HowStuffWorks; UnPodcast by UnMarketing (sponsored by Emma) 

On what every email marketer wants from email marketing

Shane: What we’re hearing about the most is this quest for actionable insights and data. It seems that we all want all the data for all our audience all the time.

Email marketing can be instrumental in this quest, as the data derived from it is incredibly valuable when understanding your audience or augmenting customer profiles. You can see what drives engagement with your audience, what channels are more effective for which group of customers, and then maximize your communication based on those segments, using email to round out their experiences elsewhere.

On Testing for Insights

Shane: It’s imperative to know who your subscribers are and where they’re coming from. Businesses can no longer send one-size-fits-all campaigns. Having a firm grasp on your subscriber and their journey will help set the foundation for all of your email marketing. Furthermore, it sets you up for successfully creating relevant and targeted automated campaigns – such as welcome emails, engagement, or lead nurture campaigns – and aiding with retention, just to name a few important goals.

One way to really home in on understanding your audience is content testing. This tactic, combined with tracking a subscriber’s engagement history, can be instrumental in informing what you send, how you design your content, and how you personalize each email. When your brand tells compelling stories through targeted and relevant content, you’re able to cultivate an active audience in the inbox. Remember, you’ll always want to test and iterate on different approaches in order to truly leverage what you know about your subscribers’ interests to surface the right hierarchy of content.

On Putting Audience Insights to Work

Shane: Personalization in its most basic form is simply adding in a subscriber’s first name to the subject line or within the email copy. While this can be an effective tactic, we strongly believe that it shouldn’t be your only type of personalization. You should look at every aspect of an email.

You can create content, imagery, and even CTAs based on their gender and demographic details, location, or personal interests. Brands implementing these advanced tactics are seeing higher click-through rates and conversions because they’re able to deliver hyper-relevant content to their subscribers.

On Email Marketing Tech Implementation

Shane: How you approach implementation is 100% dependent on the type and size of the organization. For example, at Emma, we work with many distributed organizations like franchises and universities where a lot of stakeholders need to be involved in a successful implementation.

To boil it down, there are two key pieces to a successful implementation: systems and governance. Essentially, you need to know …

… what other systems your chosen platform will need to connect to and identify which teams, roles, or individual users across your organization will require access.

Then, there are a lot of questions you’ll need to consider, both on the systems side and the user side:

  • Do you plan to export and import your data manually or connect your email platform to your CRM?

  • How do you want campaign approvals to flow?

  • How many different types of users will you need to configure access permissions for?

Never underestimate the value of ongoing training. As roles turn over, knowledge can walk out the door. Maintaining access to resources and having a program in place to help bring new hires up to speed will help mitigate downtime as your team evolves.

On Email’s Longevity

Shane: One thing we can’t talk about enough is the overall importance of the email channel. There are nearly 3 billion email users in the world, and it’s still the way audiences prefer to receive communications and promotional content. It’s proven to be one of the strongest engagement- and ROI-driving tactics across every industry, and it’s not going away any time soon. A recent Litmus survey (gated content) found email to be the channel with the most staying power when it comes to the future of marketing. It’s quite simply the most vital tactic for success for organizations of every size. We strongly believe in the power of email, and the impact it makes in the lives of our customers is what motivates us every day.

Digging Even Deeper in the Inbox

My interview with Shane called to mind related tips and advice from recent demand generation and email marketing articles on our site. Here are a few suggestions for further reading:

  • At ContentTECH Summit 2019, Convince & Convert’s Jenny Magic explained how WP Engine, a WordPress hosting platform, divided its account list into two groups – delivering personalized ads to one group and sending generic creative to the other. Email open rates for the personalized group increased by nearly 60%, with a 29% increase in reply rates and a 28% increase in opportunities.

  • ContentTECH Summit 2019 also featured an in-depth talk on email do’s and don’ts by Michael Barber, Godfrey’s senior vice president and chief creative officer. Read an interview with Michael in the latest issue of CCO or watch this video, where he debunks myths around subject line lengths, email send times, and more.

Getting Tech-Forward

In each upcoming month, I’ll explore plenty of other tech categories, including analytics, audience engagement, enterprise content management, and more. If you are looking for advice on working with marketing technology – how to select, integrate, and configure it; how to apply it to your specific content marketing challenges; or anything else – tweet your big questions to me @cmicontent using #ContentTECH, and I’ll do my best to share answers in future TechTalk posts on this blog.

Jodi Harris is the director of editorial content and curation at Content Marketing Institute. As a content strategy consultant, Jodi helps businesses evaluate their content needs and resources, build infrastructure and operations, and create compelling stories to be delivered across multiple media channels and platforms. Follow Jodi on Twitter at @Joderama.

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