Let’s just cut to the chase and state a truth that’s as true today as it was a few decades ago when AOL first launched: email is alive and well. As a communication channel, email is still a powerhouse: according to the Radicati Group, about 2.5 billion people worldwide communicate via email, and it’s estimated that the world sends around 196 billion emails daily—109 billion of which are business email. If your business isn’t in the email marketing mix, you’re not tapping into the world’s preferred communication channel.
Those who say that email is no longer an effective marketing tool because consumers’ inboxes are being flooded are wrong—these people just need to up their email marketing game. While it’s true that standing out in your customers’ and leads’ saturated inboxes is more difficult these days, it’s not impossible, and the payoff is well worth the extra effort. Email marketing is still the most efficient and cost-effective marketing tool out there: platforms like Mailchimp, Salesforce and Constant Contact allow businesses to send newsletters, promotional offers, company announcements, event invitations and more to a large number of consumers for almost nothing compared to traditional marketing channels like TV, radio and direct mail.
Beyond these benefits, email marketing is also a smarter way to communicate with consumers than traditional marketing channels. Unlike print advertisements, direct mail and TV spots, email marketing is customer-centric in that campaigns can be customized and personalized to specific buyers. Instead of addressing an audience as a whole, email marketing allows you to address members of your audience individually by name, and segment your recipients into lists (current customers, leads, influencers, etc.) to deliver tailored messages that will resonate with that individual audience member.
In short, email is still the king of marketing channels because, when used thoughtfully, email marketing can help you establish and nurture more personal relationships with customers and leads. Here are a few of the keys to a thoughtful email marketing strategy:
Hook them with great content.
Modern consumers want two things: to be delighted, and to have their lives made easier. So make sure your emails deliver. Entice readers to open your email marketing messages by including irresistible subject lines, then storify your messages by placing content that delights and speaks to your individual audience members front and center. According to Headstream’s Brand Storytelling Report 2015, 80 percent of surveyed adults want brands to tell authentic stories about their products and services. So use email marketing campaigns to tell your brand’s story with rich visuals and first-hand accounts from employees and customers of how your brand is making a difference. Then use these stories to connect with your audience members at the exact stage they are at in their decision-making process. Use your content to give them the answers and information they’re looking for to provide value on top of delight.
Prove you know and respect your audience. Personalization pays off.
It’s quite simple: the modern consumer doesn’t have time for irrelevant or unfocused content. If your emails don’t prove immediately that you know and understand the person you’re sending to, that person will hit delete without even giving your message a glance. So make sure you prove to your recipient in every detail (approach and content) of your email that you get them. The beauty of automated email marketing is that it allows you to personalize emails in the subject lines and send offers specific to the recipient’s interests and needs. Personalizing email campaigns like this pays off. Campaign Monitor found that personalized subject lines lead to a 26 percent higher email open rate, and using segmented lists to send tailored messages to recipients increases revenue by 760 percent. Personalization and hyper-targeting not only helps ensure that your recipient is more likely to open your campaign, but also engage with your content and take action.
Monitor and track effectiveness of all campaigns.
How do you get to know your recipient and understand what it is they want from you? You track and analyze your email marketing campaign data. And it’s never been easier for marketing and sales professionals to get their hands on real-time data: insights and reporting tools are now built into email marketing platforms, allowing you to assess immediately after sending an email which aspects of the campaign drive engagement, what subject lines and content interests your audience, and what links and calls-to-action (CTAs) entice them to respond to your message. Use this data to constantly evaluate and improve your email marketing campaigns—this is an opportunity to truly get to know your customer, nurture your relationship with them and build loyalty to your brand.
Maintain clean email lists!
A healthy email list is your business’ lifeline—so treat it as such. Regular bounces, unsubscribes and address changes means you may be losing upwards of one-third of your list each year. Use your email marketing report to constantly review the activity of your list subscribers, and periodically target inactive contacts with re-engagement campaigns: send them a “we miss you” email with a special offer to incentivize re-engagement, or send a “fish or cut bait” campaign asking recipients to confirm they’d like to stay on your list. If contacts remain inactive after these re-engagement campaigns, cut them loose, even if it means losing a good chunk of your contacts—you don’t want to waste time and energy marketing to people who find your brand and offers irrelevant. Instead, focus on replacing lost leads.
Keep growing your list by collecting email addresses with a sign-up form on your website, blog and social media platforms. Capture new email addresses at events and expos by offering incentives and running contests that require participants to supply their email address to enter. The key is to collect emails aggressively but ethically. New leads must be aware that by providing their email address, they are signing up to receive email communication from your business. Not only is this is a requirement of all email marketing platforms, it’s also just a good business practice: you want people who are already interested in your brand to subscribe to your list, or you may end up barking up the wrong tree.
Despite the explosion of new technology in recent years, marketers keep coming back to email. And it’s no wonder why: we are now living in the “Age of Me,” where consumers are at the helm and steering themselves through their buyer’s journey. If marketers don’t respond and adapt their marketing strategy and message to their consumer, the consumer doesn’t have to listen: they can just hit delete. In this age of buyer control, you have to show customers and leads that you know who they are, and provide content and information relevant to them. And email is still the easiest way to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.