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Tech is improving the email experience.

Tech is improving the email experience.

Tom Gathercole is part of our brand team, here he tells us how the right technology can enhance the email experience.

Let’s face it – the average email inbox is full of plenty of junk. Amidst all the marketing messages and random spam that customers receive, it can be hard to cut through and deliver meaningful brand communications that drive positive action.

Creating engaging content is vital to ensuring that email marketing messages land in the right way. We all know about the need for great email subject lines, copy and imagery, but what about the role of tech? At a time of limitless scope for innovation in web environments, is email ready to join the party?

The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, technology is already changing the face of email as we know it.

Firstly, there is the move to more and more technically advanced devices, from the latest Android to the next-gen iPhone. Smartphones have transformed communications over the last decade and the same is true of email marketing. At BJL we’re seeing that around 70% of all engagements with our clients’ emails are now coming through mobile.

That figure is rising all the time, and as smartphone technology advances with each new device, the opportunities for innovation grow significantly too. Geo-targeting is an increasingly effective tool within email, for example, allowing brands to tailor messages according to where people live, work, shop and spend their leisure time.

The tactile, interactive nature of smartphones has also opened up a host of other possibilities, often around gamification. This includes linking through to bespoke landing pages within emails so that recipients can click to discover more content or interactive features in a web-based environment.

This was the case for our ‘Easter egg’ email campaign for Thomas Cook this year, which got a great response by encouraging people to shake their phones in order to crack the egg and reveal a hidden reward. We also linked through to a specially created landing page for our famous Asda Advent calendar campaign in 2016, which used ‘digital scratch’ technology to prompt Asda customers to scratch away at a calendar on their phones and reveal a different piece of content or offer each day.

That campaign scooped a Drum award and an MPA award – not because it was technology for technology’s sake but because it generated phenomenal levels of engagement in the form of open-rates and clickthroughs, driving revenue for Asda in the crucial Christmas trading period.

Such results can provide the confidence for further innovation, too. Last Christmas we built on the success of the Asda Advent calendar activation by testing out more new tech in the retailer’s emails, including a 3D gif that appeared to show a gift-wrapped Christmas present coming out of the frame.

It was the kind of thing more commonly seen in social media, but by introducing the technology into email we once again helped to drive cut-through in people’s cluttered and noisy inboxes. It was ultimately a different, more impactful way of showing products.

These examples show that when combined with compelling creative or a strong customer proposition, tech plays a crucial role in amplifying campaign results. It deepens engagement, encourages sharing and recommendations, builds brand affinity and drives customer behaviour.

In terms of future innovations, the use of sound in email is one to watch. For example, check out our work with Asda on its pioneering use of this technology around the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. Activating sound within email is another way of enhancing the experience on a sensory level, but again it must work with the right creative idea and right customer proposition.

There’s certainly plenty to watch out for in the months and years to come – and plenty to show that email is a channel full of innovative possibilities.

... as smartphone technology advances with each new device, the opportunities for innovation grow significantly too.