If you checked your email today — which research shows more than 90% of consumers still do at least daily — you probably noticed there were marketing messages in there. And they weren’t all from flash-in-the-pan startups or no-name shops, either — they weren’t all from spammers or industry dinosaurs. In fact, the world’s most successful retailers and service providers use email marketing successfully every hour of every day, despite the appearance of dozens of newer online outlets for their messaging.
There are several reasons for this; the first puts me in mind of a quip once attributed to bank robber Willie Sutton. “Why do you rob banks?” “Because that’s where the money is.” Email marketing puts your message in the precise spot where people are looking for messages most — their email inbox. As mentioned above, almost every consumer checks their email every day — and most of them check it several times per day. When they’re there checking email, they’re already predisposed to receive your message, because receiving messages is why they’re checking in the first place.
The next big reason these companies are sticking with email marketing is that it gives them an unparalleled ability to focus every message on the people who are most likely to act upon reading it. With a campaign sending to valid, deliverable email addresses that are relevant to the message at hand, marketers can target specific consumers more accurately than ever — and more accurately than any social network. For the B2B client in particular, which do you suppose they’d rather have: hundreds of Facebook “likes” (that are worth even less than you think), or a group of solid leads that will actually translate into customer acquisitions?
The last and biggest reason you’re still getting email marketing from those successful companies is that they know email marketing still works far and away better than anything else online. They’re not abandoning the medium for something new; quite to the contrary, they’re finding ways to make it work even better. And that means going beyond standard email “best practices” (e.g., don’t spam people) and making the tool the best it can be.
Successful email marketing campaigns have a few things in common.
• They tend to be integrated with other forms of marketing. Email marketing messages that work are often tied into social media campaigns, or even more often paired with traditional print, billboard or media buys.
• They deliver a message that’s current and relevant. Content is king, but if it’s not relevant to the reader, that email’s going straight into the trash.
• They deliver messages to the right person. If you sell boats and you’re sending marketing email to 5,000 classic car enthusiasts, it’s not your messaging that’s the problem. It’s your addressing.
• They are enhanced for mobile devices. One of the reasons people are willing and able to check their email inboxes as often as they do is that they can do it on-the-go with their smartphone or tablet. A good campaign will not only deliver a message that reads well on an iPhone, it’ll include the sort of information mobile readers demand, such as locations linked to mapping apps and “hot” phone numbers that can be dialed with a single touch.
• They are read. This last requires everything above it, plus more — an ability by the campaign designers to craft a message that the recipients will actually read. There are a lot of factors here, but the biggest is probably brevity; you’re not selling your product in the email, you’re convincing someone to click a link and learn more.
By every possible metric, in every way we know how to measure success, email remains the go-to workhorse of the marketing toolbox. Smart businesses know how to use it most effectively — and with thoughtful campaign planning, email marketing will give the best ROI for years to come.