With over 4 billion email accounts in existence across the globe, email has become an integral part of modern life. And its importance keeps growing.

Unfortunately, many marketers continue to burn countless bridges with their customers through the email channel, turning would-be brand advocates into jaded and weary consumers.

But the old way of deploying email marketing campaigns is over. Email is primed for disruption in a very big way, one that will revolutionize the way brands communicate with their customers. However, if you're not ready to embrace the type of communication customers demand, where will that leave your company?

Why focus on email?

Email marketing continues to yield the highest ROI of any channel investment. It gives digital marketers the best bang for their buck.

Email also delivers the best measurable ROI of any other channel, meaning that digital marketers can track their investment in email more efficiently. In fact, 81% of marketers said they would increase spending on the aforementioned channels if they could track them as efficiently as email. So, if you want to know exactly where your campaign spend is going, spend it on email.

Moreover, email is profitable, and email is proven. In a challenging economy where digital marketers are under serious pressure to deliver measurable ROIs for company execs, the best channel to invest in that can produce tangible, reliable results is email.

How can you prepare for Email 2.0?

Email isn't new, but it is changing in a way that goes beyond what some folks do with traditional email marketing.

Here are some ways your organization can update its email marketing strategies.

1. Focus more on the individual

Personalized, sincere messages draw us in closer than sweeping, artificial ones. Personalized emails also evoke positive emotional responses, letting each recipient know he or she is valued as an individual–rather than treating he or she like a face in the crowd. Stop batching and blasting to lists, and focus on building out the individual customer profile.

Organizations ready to kick their personalization efforts into high gear can start by applying technology to their marketing campaigns that allows a 360-degree view of customer/brand interaction. With the ability to use a single, actionable database of consumer data, your brand will gain valuable insight into each customer's wants and needs while it adjusts your messaging to cater to the person in real time.

2. Protect your sending reputation

Saying your brand values a customer's time while spamming the masses amounts to little more than hollow words that build distrust among email recipients. Such methods can also land you on the blacklist of major ISPs, a surefire way for your emails to establish a permanent residence in your target market's spam folder.

With more ISPs seeking out ways to protect valued clients from annoying and time-wasting junk mail, protecting your reputation as an email marketer is vital to your digital marketing success.

One place you can start is by eliminating widespread batching and blasting methods of the past, while concentrating on focused, personalized messages that speak to customers as individuals, instead of numbers on an email list.

3. Contextualize your email efforts in real time

Intelligently reaching out to your customers with targeted communications can be done through contextual email efforts. Using available data that details a customer's interests, location, and behavior can help email marketers tailor messages that will encourage new behavior and interactions with their brand.

You can reinvent your email marketing campaign to churn out contextual messages by applying the latest email marketing solutions designed to support customizable workflows, dynamic customer interactions based on real-time feedback, and email messaging preferences that can change on a dime–even if the email is already in a recipient's inbox.

4. Focus on richer data and innovative metrics

Measuring the success of your contextual emails using innovative metrics is key to building enduring customer relationships. Concentrating on important stats (such as return on engagement, minutes spent on email, and social sharing) highlights specific areas marketers can focus on to gauge email efficacy.

Rich data (such as shopping cart abandonment rates, return on email, and average order value) dig deeper into contextual engagement, further helping email marketers evaluate the lifetime value of their customers.

Analyzing customer privacy satisfaction levels, user-generated information, and volume of behavioral/transaction data give enterprises the insight they need to deliver the best customer experiences possible.

* * *

Email is the glue that holds cross-channel marketing campaigns together, but it is long overdue for disruption.

So, is your organization ready for Email 2.0?

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Four Quick Tips for Preparing for Email 2.0

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image of Patrick Tripp

Patrick Tripp is senior product marketing manager at Adobe.

LinkedIn: Patrick Tripp