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Have a look at this recent article that Simon Washbrook, founder of popcorn, was quoted in talking about why email is and will continue being the backbone of business communication: ‘Anyone with a registered account at an online gambling operator will no doubt have become accustomed to regular emails filling their inboxes from the company in question. From the promotion of new products, special offers, and informing customers of the latest odds for the weekend’s impending fixtures, email has long been an effective means of direct marketing for the gaming industry to reach consumers on a relatively cost-efficient basis’ . Read more below:

screenshot image of the title of the article titled You've got mail by Simon Washbrook

Anyone with a registered account at an online gambling operator will no doubt have become accustomed to regular emails filling their inboxes from the company in question. From the promotion of new products, special offers, and informing customers of the latest odds for the weekend’s impending fixtures, email has long been an effective means of direct marketing for the egaming industry to reach consumers on a relatively cost-efficient basis.

However, there are doom-mongers within the digital marketing space more broadly who, for many years now, have predicted the demise of email. Rich site summary (RSS) was once expected to kill email, while the rise of social media was also slated to put the final nail in its coffin. Today, some experts point to trends which show how the younger generations rely far more heavily on instant messaging services, such as WhatsApp, instead of using email for everyday communication.
Yet by most measureable statistics and comparisons, the so-called ‘death of email’ seems like an idea not supported by facts. According to a report by technology market research firm The Radicati Group, the number of email accounts opened worldwide is expected to grow 6.5% on average per year to approximately 5.6 billion by 2019. In email marketing, spend is estimated to be growing 10% on a year-on-year basis – and it’s not hard to see why.
Email’s everlasting advantage is that it remains the only universal application which can be used by people to register with an online entity or for the completion of online transactions. The use of smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, eBay and Amazon are all impossible without a registered email address as companies need an effective means for communicating with consumers. In this regard, email is what holds all of digital marketing together.
“To not have an email address is the digital equivalent of being homeless,” Dela Quist, founder and CEO of email marketing agency Alchemy Worx, claims. “You can’t file your taxes online or do any of the things we take for granted. When you think about it that way, then email becomes a tremendous opportunity and you wonder why people are so keen to look outside of email for the next best thing which have all come and gone over the years.”
screenshot image of a red fusion of a mail icon for the article titled You've got mail by Simon Washbrook
screenshot image of the article titled You've got mail by Simon Washbrook
Since the advent of the internet, email marketing has been forced to constantly adapt to new pressures and competing technology, with personalisation cited today as one of the most crucial aspects to crack. And from an egaming perspective, email continues to be one of digital marketing’s most reliable performers when done right.

Tried and tested

It is the results of good email marketing which prove just how relevant the channel is today, but this is easier said than done. “Timely, relevant content, personalised and targeted at an engaged audience should all be part of your content marketing strategy,” Jonnie Jensen, founder of content and social media agency Live+Social, explains.
“Email marketing just becomes a channel which, if you look after, will still have contacts looking forward to your content arriving. This is where internet marketers succeed with email,” he adds. “They are in frequent contact offering value and making the recipient feel like this email cannot be missed.”
The ultimate goal of email marketing is to make every message sent personalised to the individual recipient, the device they receive it on, and that it is sent at a time most likely to spur a customer to make a transaction. From this point of view, email is still the only game in town as no other means of customer communication can send faster than email, with the exception of SMS which can cost between 5p and 10p per person, compared to email which costs 50p per thousand people.
And there is no real sign costs are going to change anytime soon, although the tools that allow marketers to perform automation effectively might require more investment in the coming years. “I’ve been saying for 15 years that email is the cheapest way of delivering a message to any given individual that has ever existed and I hypothesise will ever exist,” Quist says confidently. “To me, email is the address, it’s not the content you send. So, in future, email could be voice or it could be video, but it’s still like a home address.”
For many smaller egaming operators, which must compete with the substantial marketing bucks of big brands, costs are always an issue and, compared to social media, email can, on paper, appear relatively expensive. “But when you take into account the post delivery tools such as the ability to automatically identify who your prospects are (based upon email and web activity), see exactly what it is that your prospects are interested in and then manage them through a built-in sales pipeline, it provides the business owner with far greater return on investment,” email marketing expert Simon Washbrook says.
screenshot image of the article titled You've got mail by Simon Washbrook
Email has the figures to back this up. According to a report by VentureBeat, for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. The channel has also nailed the ability to dynamically assemble a complex message so when a communication is sent, it pulls in data feeds from multiple sources, adjusts the content to the person who receives it and also recognises the device it’s received on. Email has certainly come a long way since the early 1990s and mobile has clearly played a crucial role in its evolution.

Going mobile

There was a time when mobile phones were expected to replace email as the communication, and online verification, tool of choice. However, the disadvantage the mobile phone had compared to email was that it was less intuitive and people don’t identify themselves as being numbers, they identify themselves as having a personality. And as soon as the smartphone became a mass-market consumer item, the portable device made email even more powerful as it’s one of the most popular activities people use their phone for. Nearly everyone is checking their emails multiple more times per day than they used to when they had to log in to their PC at work or at home.
“Mobile has given email a boost. More than ever, we are now just one click away from the timely, added value content the email highlights,” Jensen explains. “The phone vibrates, we look at the message and if it is any good we click through. Of course, there are some technical points about how the email looks but this is just ensuring all your web properties are mobile responsive. And they should be or Google will be penalising your site in results.”
This means the whole mobile revolution has brought email even closer to the customer. A desktop is on the edge of personal space, while mobile is right in your face and has made the brand impressions that email delivers even more powerful. Another consequence mobile has had on the email medium is that people have a tendency to see emails more than once which, according to Quist, has created two types of user to contend with.
“Some people archive and some people file emails. ‘Inbox-zero’ people are using their smartphone for triage,” Quist says.
“‘Inbox-don’t give a damn people’ who could have 100,000 emails in their inbox and it doesn’t bother them in the slightest, just leave them because it costs nothing and they just keep them in their inbox. You will often find that people go back to an email several days if not weeks after getting it to make a purchase.”
“When they get an email, some people obsess about deleting and filing and other people just leave it there. However, everyone leaves a brand impression even if the email is ‘ignored’,” Quist continues.
“The act of ignoring or deleting an email requires your highest cognitive processing functions to be fully engaged to stop you accidentally missing an email. That’s really important and if you understand that, you understand that brand impression is a very powerful one because we process it subliminally.”
One of the potentially damaging effects of mobile to email’s prosperity as a marketing tool is the rise of push notifications, which is arguably the most direct communication channel on offer to egaming operators today. These short, punchy messages are delivered straight to the lock screen and homepages of any consumer who opts-in to the service and according to statistics from Forrester Research, open rates are 50% higher and click-through-rates are up to twice as high.
But in many ways, push notifications have proven to be complimentary rather than competitive to email. For example, Facebook has 1.5 billion users but is still the biggest email sender in the world despite the opportunity to communicate solely through its app. Push notifications, on the whole, work best on customers who regularly use their gambling apps, opting to allow companies to invade the most personal screen a consumer owns. But if a customer doesn’t login to their app for three weeks, how can companies inform them of their existence? The people who they want to visit, because that’s what makes their numbers bigger, are the occasional users who can only be reached effectively via email.

Get their attention

While mobile may have revolutionised and reinvigorated email marketing, the design and copy contained in emails has also been evolving constantly in recent years. However, email is traditionally very unforgiving due to the multiple clients it has to overcome. For example, Gmail renders HTML different from Yahoo, which renders different from AOL, which also renders different from Outlook. And then, a Samsung smartphone renders different from an iPhone – it’s an endless cycle.
With web, on the other hand, marketers are effectively only building for one client which is Internet Explorer as most people have that already built-in as standard on their computer. This makes email particularly difficult as it has always had to code for hundreds of different devices and environments which utilise different types of technology. For example, Outlook defaults by blocking images, whereas Gmail now downloads the images automatically. But there are signs this is changing and opening up new opportunities for personalisation.
“There are many more technical restrictions to being creative with email but many have gone, are going or we’ve come up with some very powerful workarounds so we’re able to deliver that,” Quist says.
“You can now deliver animated GIF, but video is still a challenge.”
screenshot image of the article titled You've got mail by Simon Washbrook

Good vs bad

However, Jensen believes good emails now look a lot prettier, have better content and are easier to read, while bad emails still make all the same mistakes.
“My favourite is the one big image instead of any copy, which when arriving in your inbox just shows an empty box,” he says. “More than anything, subject lines are still the most important factor in determining how many people will open your email.”
Subject lines are a really powerful tool with a very significant branding and conversion impact. Avoiding the overuse of sales words, long phrases and promotional messages has proven best practice for companies aiming to get through email filters, while personalising messages is increasingly becoming common practice. The importance of the latter cannot be overstated. Recent research has shown that emails with personalised subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened and 64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line.
But for the egaming industry specifically, it has to be more careful with deliverability because of the nature of the beast. The subject lines from online gambling operators can potentially look more spammy than retail companies and some recipients, who can accidentally find themselves on an email mailing list, may have a visceral dislike of gambling.
“Pay close attention to the title of your email,” Andy Edwards, managing director of egaming affiliate Mad About Media, warns. “Not only will this increase CTR but some spam filters will see words like bingo, casino and automatically place them in a spam folder when they aren’t really spam.”
On the other hand, Washbrook believes consumers are now a lot more savvy and email marketers need to put themselves in the position of their reader and ask themselves, why should they engage with my email? “It’s about building a relationship with your reader, perhaps by giving free advice or sharing useful websites you have found,” he says.
“Once you have started to establish a relationship, then you can look at refining your subject line, for example, as these will build upon the foundation that is the relationship.”

Striking the right balance

A problem many marketers struggle to gauge is how often an email communication can be sent out without the unintended consequence of annoying the customer. The simple answer to the optimal frequency question is always one less than too many but is it possible to work out exactly what that is?

Email marketing’s advantage is that individuals only receive emails that they’ve signed up for – anything else is illegal or spam – so the emails in their inbox are those they’ve chosen to receive.
Email is also, compared to other channels, the least intrusive and the one consumers consistently state as the number one channel they want to be sold through. “It’s the channel of choice to be sold to,” Quist says. “The data tells us that the optimal number of emails is several times a week for most brands and most sectors.”
The average UK consumer only gets five to 10 commercial emails per day, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), while some get 40 or 50 messages a month and others only five or 10 messages a month.
And with respect to deliverability problems, a thorn in the side of email marketing for a long time now, filtering our email inboxes has become much cleverer, according to Jensen.
“As marketers, we have to deal with the environment in which we play,” he says. “Whilst frustrating for the sender, Gmail’s system of automatically filtering my inbox is really helpful.”
Despite some battlegrounds – both old and new – to fight, when a company asks where a customer wants to receive commercial messages, email is still the preferred choice for between 80% and 90% of respondents, while SMS is relatively low. Whether it’s door-to-door, telephone calls at 7pm at night or ads in the post, no one is realistically going to ask for more advertising. But the one people continue to have the most tolerance for is email as it’s the easiest to control. Until that changes, email marketing is not going away anytime soon.

popcorn is a smart, easy-to-use and efficient platform that not only helps you compose beautiful emails and newsletters but also helps you manage your sales funnels and leads. If you would like to test popcorn and see if it could help improve your email marketing game, you can sign-up for the free trial here.

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