Email marketing isn’t dead. Even though it’s one of the oldest forms of online communication, email marketing is in its prime. Several companies and marketers thought that social media would replace email, but companies that are ditching email and replacing it with social media are in for a world of hurt. Email beats social media in just about every category when it comes to overall digital marketing effectiveness except one — sharing. Email has a larger overall user base, it’s used more every day than the top social media platforms combined, it’s the preferred channel for promotional messages, it’s more frequently used for personal messages, it drives more direct e-commerce, it has better click-through engagement and it has a better overall ROI.
OK, so what? The point I’m trying to make is that email marketing is still very relevant and is keeping up with and, in most cases, surpassing the effectiveness of other marketing channels. Email marketing and social media aren’t competitors. In fact, they should be working very closely together. Email marketing is a complex channel, and I have witnessed very few companies unlock their full email marketing potential. Potential in this case means the following:
- The ability to provide users with relevant and timely messages
- The ability to drive leads
- The ability to tie in email messages to user behavior
- The ability to link email communications with the customer journey
- The ability to automate complex email programs tied to complex data attributes
- And the ability to sync email messaging with other digital marketing efforts
There are several ways companies use email today. A common misconception, though, is that common practices equal best practices. When it comes to email marketing, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In order to unlock the full potential of your email marketing, you need to take a strong, objective look at how you’re using email marketing today, define what you want to achieve with your leads and customer base, and then decide where you can optimize your email marketing efforts to fill in the holes.
So how are you using email? Here are a few common ways that companies and brands are using their email marketing today:
The facilitator approach is pretty straightforward. A lot of companies use email marketing to help facilitate the communications of other marketing channels. In these cases, email marketing isn’t the key marketing driver, which is completely OK. For example, a facilitator email program could be a final reminder to interested subscribers to act on a limited-time promotion that was primarily communicated through a company’s website, social media and paid search channels.
Opposite to the facilitator role, the driver role takes the front seat and is the primary channel (and sometimes the only channel) within an overall digital marketing strategy. While using email as the sole driver for a particular one-off campaign might be a good choice, companies that use email marketing as their only driver are setting themselves up for failure. Email can reach a lot of people, but it may not be everyone’s preferred channel when it comes to interacting with brands. If you’re only using email to attempt to reach your target audience, then you’ll probably reach 40 – 50% of them on a long-term basis. Ignoring how the remaining 50 – 60% prefer to interact with you as a brand could potentially lead to disengaged subscribers that lose interest in your product, service and message altogether.
The informer role is an email marketing program or tactic that informs target audiences through content. It combines content marketing from websites with email distribution. Content marketing is a huge deal in the world of digital marketing and just about everyone is attempting it. Few brands, however, are able to perfectly sync up what type of content their audience wants to consume, when they want to consume it, and how to do so on a one-to-one level. Brands that have figured out how to do this have been able to build strong and long-lasting relationships with their audience.
The salesman email marketing approach is just what you’re thinking. It’s constantly using email to sell your products, services or ideas. There is definitely a place for promotional email messages and, if done correctly, they will drive sales and revenue. If you’re selling products or services (especially through e-commerce), there is definitely a place for this type of approach. However, if hard-selling, highly promotional emails are the only type of email messages that your subscribers receive, then you are going to turn them off quickly. Having a constant salesman-type approach is going to drive an increase in unsubscribes, spam and abuse reports as well as cause subscribers to disengage from your brand. Use this approach, but use it wisely.
The Sales Clerk
Some brands use email purely for transactional purposes. This could be in the form of a purchase confirmation email from an e-commerce site or a thank-you email for signing up for a sweepstakes. In any case, these types of transactional email programs are absolutely necessary, but shouldn’t be your only use for email.
Some brands have caught on that not everyone is instantly ready to purchase their products or services and need to be further educated after initial contact. The nurturer role does just that — nurtures and further educates leads to help drive them to conversion. Marketing automation platforms (e.g., Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, etc.) were built for this. Bringing in interested leads through targeted landing pages, lead forms and content marketing offers and then nurturing these leads through to conversion should be part of just about every brand’s digital marketing arsenal.
Email marketing is a great way to reach and engage target audiences. Brands shouldn’t just be using their email marketing to fulfill a single purpose or role. Brands should be using a combination of nurturing, promotional, informative and transactional-based email programs to reach and build relationships with their subscribers, and should do so hand in hand with other traditional and digital marketing channels. Email marketing programs, like any other digital marketing program, should be built around the needs, wants and preferences of your audience and the messaging should correlate with your audience on a one-to-one level.
Don’t know where to get started? Not sure how to unlock the full potential of your email marketing? Let us help you.