Email marketing reinvented for growth

Srikant Kotapalli

Nov 25, 2019

Email marketing reinvented for growth Featured Image
Srikant Kotapalli

Nov 25, 2019

It was novel really when it first appeared – the Electronic Mail, your digital version of the postal mail. It was personal like the post but arrived a lot quicker. 

Today the email is anything but personal. The average inbox has more promotional emails or emails in the SPAM folder than what is relevant to the owner of the inbox. But everyone still has an email address, well, because it’s become impossible to do away with it. Most popular email service providers have inbuilt algorithms and rules to organize the inbox so that it stays relevant to the user. But it’s not really helping the user or the brands that want to interact with the user. 

The inbox today is one where the user looks for emails addressed directly to them, reads them and for all the others it’s “select-all” and deletes.

“Emails today are anything but personal.” 

But how did email end up in this sad state of decline? To answer this, we need to better understand the evolution of email.

Table of Contents
  1. The 50th year of email and its journey so far

  2. The challenges of email in 2019

  3. Is email dead yet?

  4. What’s really impeding email’s progress?

  5. The Insider Email Suite

  6. Bring the conversations back with dynamic personalization

  7. Smart recommendations powered by AI and ML

  8. Try the Insider Email Suite, today!

The 50th year of email and its journey so far

Email is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020. There is no better time but now to have a rewind of the evolution of email to what it is today.

Do you know how the concept of email began? What were some of the developments that have contributed to making email what it is today?

Like much of the technology around today, email too made its maiden entry in the military? MIT graduate Ray Tomlinson was working on the ARPANET, the military communications network which was the earliest form of the Internet. Tomlinson was working on a project that would allow messages to be sent between two different computers, and in October 1971. The first message was sent between two computers, covering a humble distance of 1 meter – the email was born!

In the initial phase of its growth to popularity, the email was entirely plain text-based as the movie “You’ve got mail” portrays it so clearly. And envisioned as an alternative to postal mail, it remained a personal channel for much of the initial days.

Then came the late 90’s and early 2000’s with HTML and CSS that made email much of what it is today. Interactive engagements meant that brands now had a medium to engage customers. And in the world of marketing, no chance is left untouched and thus began the era of email marketing. Or rather, spamming?

The challenges of email in 2019

Email has continued to grow steadily, albeit slowly, since its inception. This has contributed to various functionalities being incorporated and its growth as a platform, the channel in itself has not undergone any radical makeover. 

Furthermore, the abuse of email as a marketing channel has decreased the effectiveness of this once revolutionary channel. Privacy and compliance measures like CAN-SPAM, PIPEDA, GDPR, etc have tried to curb spamming to some extent, however, they have not done enough to let the inbox clean and personal enough. Take a look at your inbox for example – when was the last time you saw it organized and containing only emails that are relevant? The first day of creating your email account?

Commonly referred to as email fatigue – the situation where looking at your cluttered inbox makes you engage less; is what has led to the decline of the channel’s popularity.
The crux of email marketing challenges arises from its use as a bulk marketing strategy, taking the personal out of it and making it a generic, non-reliable and highly cluttered channel.

Is email dead yet?

Back in the 90s and early 2000s many of the prominent tech-entrepreneurs have predicted that the email would soon die or be phased out. Emails have often be called as useless because of its not-so-user-friendly format. In a world dominated by instant messaging, and a chat-culture driven by WhatsApp, FB Messenger, WeChat, Slack, etc, the role of emails seemed irrelevant.

But the reality is that email has managed to survive and is here to stay! Email will continue to rise due to its ease of use, instant asynchronous nature, widespread adoption, being a searchable repository, multi-tasking friendly, etc.

However, it remains a fact that email as a channel needs a revival. Abused through blast campaigns, promotions and newsletters the email has come to signify everything that is irrelevant.

What’s really impeding email’s progress?

But reviving email is easier said than done. Email today has hit a roadblock, caused by the marketing abuse of this channel. Almost all the email marketing tools available in the market today are designed for bulk emailing with very few segmentation options available, which if available are outdated. 

Then there is the lack of user-based personalization, meaning customers often get generic emails (blast campaigns) club that with wrong segmentation and you have the perfect recipe for a marketing disaster called SPAM.

Most email marketing tools are also not intelligent enough to provide contextualized recommendations, i.e recommendations updated to a user’s individual preferences. The use of AI-based technologies has largely been unused in emails.

The abuse as a marketing channel, trial-and-spam segmentation and the lack of personalization are all product features and the direct result of using the existing email marketing tools. The major roadblocks to email’s progress are the current tools using it. 

At Insider, we realized that emails have been around for far too long with far little changes in their appeal that they’ve taken on a passive outlook. We realized it is time to revive the email and bring it up to speed with the other advancements in Marketing Technology. We believe this is the best tribute to email in its golden jubilee year.

The Insider Email Suite

Insider’s email suite is a delicately crafted blend of cutting edge approaches applied to your standard email so that they can drive more engagement, open rates and conversions for the enterprising marketer.

How did we do this?
We took the email out of the box and paired it with the exciting features that are prevalent across other channels. Then mixed it with our existing artificial intelligence and machine learning engines, and hurrah! – Email 2.0 is here. Let’s dive in and see what Email 2.0 has to offer. What better way to celebrate 50 years of Emails!

Bring the conversations back with dynamic personalization

Personalization has been at the heart of marketing but email personalization has so far been limited to {first name}, {last name}. Plus there were a few manual tweaks based on outdated engagement based segments. 

Insider email suite employes dynamic personalization with the use of historical, behavioral and third-party data along with onsite segmentation and send time optimization features. This brings email engagement as close as possible to 1:1 conversation. Think of it as the Google Search Algorithm for email- effective at identifying the emails that are most relevant to readers at the very instant.

Interactive Newsletters

Time to get away from the read-only/ view-only appeal that email has carried around for too long. Insider’s Email Suite enables for an interactive experience in a customer’s inbox.

Imagine creating an email that is rich with collapsable menu bars, image scrolls, CTAs and interactive buttons that give the appeal of a website? Since customers constantly seek engagement our email suite delivers a fresh look that moves away from the monotonicity of text-only content.

Customizable templates

Design your emails the way you want to. Our email suite comes complete with options where you can include menu bars, filters, trending category sections, and much more. This will allow users to engage with your email rather than merely scrolling through.

Personalize with User Attributes

Emails are often full of static information which makes customers feel that brands send them irrelevant content. About time you personalize your emails with unique user attributes such as nameagelast visited categorylast visited product, etc.

Enhance the visual appeal with rich images

You’re sexy and you know it! So why should your emails run shy? Go all out with vibrant images in your emails. With Insider’s email suite, you can upload, create and maintain your image library for faster shipment and better collaboration. It also comes with stock images that you can use to give your emails a dash of vibrancy and flair of your brand’s messaging. You can even add dynamic images and dynamic URLs in a few clicks.

Smart recommendations powered by AI and ML

Insider’s AI-powered recommendation engine enables marketers to know what their customers truly want and how to recommend them in real-time via email. Our predictive algorithms cover much more than what an email marketer needs for their recommendation campaigns. 

The problem with sending recommendations on email, so far, has been the constraint of time. Recommendations are updated at the time an email is sent and remains static. Users may open the email after many hours or even days, which means the recommendations are outdated by then.

Our AI and ML capabilities allow for open-time recommendations – which updated the recommendations for the time when the email is opened. This means that users will now be able to view recommendations duly updated at the time when the open the email.

Grow email subscribers- across channels

Acquiring new users online (lead generation) can be a tricky business. But it is vital to get that email address for future engagements. Customers shy away from providing their details because websites often throw up lead-gen templates the moment a visitor lands on the website. Timing is critical here.

Insiders Email Suite has a solution for this. Understand customer behavior first, and then prompt them at the right time, so it feels less like spam and more like a trusted engagement. By making use of touch-points such as 

  • Exit intent
  • Browse abandonment
  • No. of products visited
  • Scroll depth, and much more

You can now convert visitors to subscribers on your website, mobile web and mobile app through the use of gamified experiences and incentivized templated.

Triggered email using Predictive AI Segmentation

Triggered emails can be defined as those which are triggered based on micro-events or actions of the users. Neil Patel says triggered emails have reported at least a 152% higher open rate compared to traditional emails. Insider’s email suite takes this to the next level by enabling triggered emails using predictive segments. One can literally automate emails based on the future behavior of their users. Now auto-trigger emails to your customers who are likely to purchase/churn, or based on their purchase/view history/life cycle status, or based on specific events like browser abandonment, and whatnot?

The power of workflows and automation

Combine the power of workflows and marketing automation to design the perfect journey for your customers across channels. Create infinitely complex journeys that seem seamless for your customers. Do everything from welcoming users, recovering abandoned carts, sending contextualized recommendations, re-engaging users and much more. Deploy email at the right steps along the journey. 

And many more exciting & innovative features!

Try the Insider Email Suite, today!

The email marketing landscape today is in dire need of a revival. This channel still holds immense relevance and possibilities. The challenge is to combine intelligent conversations combined with AI and ML capabilities to deliver emails that are truly and specifically tailored to the customers’ requirements.

It’s time for a revolution but a revolution also requires revolutionary technology. Insider’s Email Suite is all about realizing this revolution. 

Talk to our experts or request a demo here.

Srikant is a seasoned product marketing leader with 15+ years of experience in building and marketing SaaS products. As VP of Product Marketing at Insider, Srikant is responsible for Insider's product positioning, GTM and analyst relations. When not working on product marketing projects, Srikant loves exploring the design and engineering of things