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November 6, 2013

Why email is still one of the best marketing channels available

4 minute read

Over the years, numerous marketing experts have forewarned of email’s demise, but like a red rag to a bull, the medium has only become stronger and more effective.

In this age of social media, in-app advertising and other clever such tools, how is it that the humble email continues to thrive, refusing to budge from its position as the number one marketing channel?

We all use email
There are almost three times as many email users in the world as there are profiles on Facebook and Twitter combined. The average person has three email accounts and checks at least one of them every day. Suffice to say the vast majority of the global population is familiar with email, knowing how to click open and send a response. That presents a lot of opportunities for email marketers to get their messages out there, more so than via other traditional channels.

Works on many levels
A well thought-out email marketing campaign ticks several ‘boxes’. It can build brand awareness, generate leads through clicks, encourage sales and also remind consumers of who you are and what you do – quickly and without costing very much money.

Allows direct contact with recipients
Email remains the most direct channel of communication with consumers. Great swathes of people spend their days within easy reach of a desktop, tablet or smartphone and as such they are alerted immediately when a new email is received. Unlike television advertising that can be fast-forwarded or direct mail which can line the recycling bin, an email is hard to ignore.

Faster than a speeding bullet
Timing is everything, so they say. Yet with most forms of marketing, it can take weeks, if not months, to launch a campaign. Not so with email. If something big is breaking in the media it can be reflected in emails quickly, in the form of relevant and engaging content. It doesn’t take very long to create an email (especially if you have templates already in use) and just minutes for your communication to reach the recipients’ inboxes.

Engages readers
We receive hundreds of emails every day. The most successful email marketing campaigns recognise that fact and take steps to make their email stand out. They do this by creating an attractive subject line to ‘hook’ readers in, then provide insightful and engaging content, like special deals and offers that are available only via the email campaign. This helps to build relationships, trust and brand loyalty in ways that are just not possible through print, television and the internet.

Good content also positions a brand as knowledgeable and up to date with industry events, where recipients will see them as a trustworthy expert – a concept that is key in the initial stages of the buying cycle.

Permissible and follows best practice
Recent regulatory changes have meant that marketers can only send emails to recipients who have subscribed to the service. By that reasoning, the emails should always be of interest because the recipient actively signed up to receive them.

Over three-quarters of people prefer to receive ‘permission-based marketing communications’ through email, according to Top Rank and by following best practice (e.g. valuable content, not sending too frequently), marketers can ensure their consumers keep reading their emails.

It can be easily targeted and personalised
With use of innovative customer relationship management (CRM) software, marketers can easily segment their contact lists to target specific groups with specific campaigns. This might cover geographical offers or news that is only relevant to women, for example. The software also allows for email personalisation, a trend which has a significantly positive effect on open rates. The incorporation of a (correctly spelled) first name or tailored content can really build engagement and encourage recipients to open subsequent communications.

Low-cost solution
Email is easily one of the most cost-efficient marketing channels, as demonstrated in a recent eMarketer report. In 2011, US marketers spent $64 billion on TV, $34 billion on print, $39 billion on internet advertising but just a paltry $1.5 billion on email – almost nothing at all when you consider how effective it is. The Direct Marketing Association estimated a return on investment of 4,300 per cent, thus initial investments are easily recouped.

It can be measured
Unlike press or television ads, email can be monitored, measured and assessed within mere hours, allowing marketers to establish who’s opening an email, where, when and how. This information can then be used to further personalise and strengthen campaigns – i.e. it’s possible to discern exactly when most emails are opened, revealing the optimum response delivery days and/or times. Savvy marketers will take this information into account when launching a campaign, in order to increase its chances of success.

It can be adapted to future technological trends
Email isn’t going anywhere, it’s safe to say. However, the way we access our emails is likely to continue to change in the coming years. Where once the desktop PC was the preferred choice, we’re now more commonly opening emails from mobile devices.

Industry experts predict that the number of mobile email users will increase by 28 per cent in 2014 and a further 23 per cent in 2015, by which point there will be 1,632 million mobile email users. It’s fair to surmise, therefore, that email could become a marketing channel that’s even more relevant for the future than it is today.

As a trusted concept which is familiar and direct, it’s clear to see how email remains one of the best marketing channels available.

Posted by Ihar Maraziuk

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Why email is still one of the best marketing channels available

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