Alive and Kicking: Why Email Marketing Is Still a Huge Tool for Business
Email isn't dead; it's just evolving.
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In marketing circles, the debate I hear most often is over the existence of email marketing's pulse: Is it dead or alive?
To me, the answer is obvious. Email is definitely NOT dead, nor will it be anytime soon. But before I elaborate, let me drop this one telling statistic: More than 200 million emails are sent out every minute of the day. It's a number that proves email is still a heavily used communication platform for consumers, brands and enterprise marketers. alike.
This isn't the only piece of evidence that proves it's too soon to contemplate the demise of email marketing. Consider the following stats: Seventy-two percent of U.S. adults say they prefer companies to communicate with them via email, and 91 percent say they'd like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. Meanwhile, 73 percent of companies agree email marketing is a core part of their business efforts, and 25 percent rate email as their top channel in terms of return on investment.
Despite the premature death announcements, here are three reasons why email marketing isn't going anywhere.
1. It has distinct advantages over social.
A lot of rumors that email marketing is dying stems from the idea that social-media marketing, with its fancy bells and whistles is killing email. While social may be more effective than email in certain cases, you can't expect one marketing medium to do it all. Don't get distracted by vanity metrics, and other hollow impressions that often fill marketers with a perceived sense of satisfaction.
I have seen too many overly enthusiastic marketers try to capture audience attention using slightly spammy tactics, like blasting Facebook pages with irrelevant updates, filling Twitter feeds with 24/7 automated tweets, sending automated direct messages, and yes, circulating "X' number of cat memes. These annoying efforts do nothing but motivate your audience to click the "unfollow" button.
Meanwhile email marketing, allows marketers to offer relevant and insightful content to an audience that has willingly subscribed and is eager to learn more. In addition, most Internet users (nearly 90 percent, as per 2012 data) are also email users, while only 70 percent have a social-media account. If you want to reach a majority of your audience, email is still the most effective method to do so.
Email is still a superlative channel to use to drive sales, customer acquisition and customer retention, while social media's value really lies in customer engagement. Comparing the two channels is like comparing apples and oranges.
2. It's evolving.
From newsletters to targeted offerings, brands can now monitor, measure, test and tweak emails to drive customer engagement. In addition, many new technologies show great promise of dramatically changing the email marketing game. Email will cease to simply be a medium for communication and evolve into a platform that helps brands deliver cross-channel experiences.
In a recent MarketingProfs article, Liga Bizune explored some key email trends to watch out for, illustrating that this channel will soon be more than just a medium for communication.
Here's a quick glance at some of them: (below points are not complete sentences so removed periods)
Wearable technology will change how brands communicate with email subscribers
Following email's transition to mobile, the need to develop better and more creative content will become stronger than ever
Hyper-targeted, location-based email marketing will surface, thanks to the integration of proximity and geolocation applications into emails
Video will play a bigger role in email marketing
Predictive analytics will drive behavioral email marketing.
3. It's effective when executed correctly.
People who think email is passé are probably not using it properly. For instance, one of the biggest challenges of email marketing is that a very small percentage of subscribers actually read newsletters. Now, if the read rate of your newsletters is pathetically low, it doesn't necessarily mean that email is dead or dying. Instead, it means your newsletters fail to pique audience interest, or your calls to action aren't up to scratch. In that case, consider asking yourself the following questions.
Is the tone of content impersonal and promotional, or is it friendly and helpful?
Are you having a conversation with the reader, or talking "at" them?
Are you driving meaningful one-on-one engagement?
Don't for a second believe that email is dead or dying; if you do, you're certain to miss out on opportunities that other marketing tools don't provide.