In the inbound marketing stack, there are a number of inter-connected tools used to attract, inform and convert existing customers and newly-found prospects. Social media, pay-per-click and programmatic digital advertising have emerged as leaders in both B2B and B2C marketing efforts. But, what about email marketing? As we’ve said many times here at Communication Links, email marketing may be the least expensive, most efficient means of targeting existing customers, as well as reaching those who are interested in a company’s products and services. After almost a decade of employing email campaigns in our clients’ marketing efforts, we’ve seen how transformative best-in-class email can be in driving business-to-consumer outreach.
Because the world of digital advertising has overtaken analog marketing channels, one might assume that email marketing is going the way of the Dodo bird. It turns out that email marketing, viewed by a few “expert pundits” as outdated and old school, is not as ancient as you might think. It’s time to rethink that assumption. Used correctly, email is absolutely not outdated as a means of influencing consumer behavior!
Adobe, a well-respected Silicon Valley software company with products such as Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe PDF and Adobe Digital Cloud, has conducted annual surveys on the effectiveness of business email marketing since 2014. Their latest, released in 2018, suggests that consumers of small business products and services PREFER email marketing to other forms of inbound marketing. One reason is the convenience of opening and responding to links in emails which makes it easier for consumers to engage with you. Another is the ability to just not open the email if the email’s “Subject” line doesn’t motivate them to open the email. And, email recipients have the ultimate luxury of simply opting-out at any time as allowed under CAN-SPAM federal legislation.
On a year-over-year basis, email marketing has declined in usage in favor of other forms of emerging communications platforms. But, email marketing campaigns are still used more than twice as frequently as other forms of inbound marketing.
There are several takeaway lessons worth pointing out to ensure you don’t turn away customers and prospects by over-doing a good thing. In Adobe’s survey, the following attributes were the most-appreciated by survey participants.
- Don’t assume that your entire email database will respond to the same offers. Use their name, target their needs and wants and avoid “mass blasts” just to fill tee sheets or restaurant seats.
- Be informative: It’s OK to “sell.” But, those surveyed don’t want to be sold through hardball tactics and over-the-top frequency of emails sent.
- Mobile optimized: Just as your website needs to be viewable on all display platforms, especially Smartphones, the same is true of emails. Our experience managing email marketing suggests that 55%-60% of all emails are now opened on Smartphones first. Use responsive email templates so that your emails are legible on mobile phones, and always make sure your calls-to-action are visible and accessible to encourage engagement.
- Be Timely: Offering someone a special offer for a product or service that may be delivered or consumed 4-6 weeks in the future is not going to work. Alternately, don’t send emails offering a special opportunity “tomorrow before 12 noon.”
- Give consumers a chance to think, to plan and to engage. Finding that right balance is critically important in generating CTA conversions.
Don’t be afraid to use email marketing, even if you think it’s not as sexy as Facebook or Instagram promotions. If you follow consumer-friendly guidelines when integrating email campaigns into your overall marketing program, and better define your database lists by region, demographic or buying patterns, you can increase Open, Click-Through and Engagement metrics. And, you’ll find that email marketing is cost-effective and cost-efficient.