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With tablets, computers, phones, and smart TVs dividing the attention of consumers, businesses are required no more than ever to re-consider their marketing strategies. Distributed attention spans in the digital marketing sphere has created a pressing need for a distributed marketing presence. In fact, 40% of marketers reported a 15% increase in revenue when utilizing distributed marketing strategies; no small number in an arena that looks to squeeze nominal returns from big changes.
The greatest challenge for modern marketers now is determining what channels in which to invest. Social media, targeted advertising, re-marketing, content marketing, email marketing, direct mail, and physical publications all present an opportunity for engagement. However, the degree to which they offer ROI depends widely on the channel, market, industry, and customer base.
While marketing trends have driven a number of companies to engage in viral marketing efforts through social media, more traditional avenues for reaching customers still hold weight and, in many cases, offer better ROI than newer methods. Email marketing, in particular, offers an extensive look at customer characteristics, while offering robust, effective, and profitable engagement opportunities.
As marketers, we've all heard this trick before. Every product, solution, service, or piece of advice we offer is touted as the next revolutionary discovery in its respective field. In general, this is either born out of genuine enthusiasm about our craft or discovery, or its born out of a need to drive traffic to a website or business.
However, when I tell you that e-mail marketing is high-ROI, this is not hyperbole. According to the 2012 Marketing Channel and Engagement Benchmark Survey, 63% of respondents cited email as the channel with the best ROI. In 2011, the ROI for every 1$ expenditure on email marketing was $40.56. In 2013, this number had climbed to $43.00.
The primary reason for these numbers? The target-ability of email marketing.
Consider an average social networking post on your corporate account. Your content is linked in the post with a heady title and additional comment that grabs user attention. If you're particularly proficient at creating social media posts, then you've probably also included a photo, designed to communicate the tone and value of the post by relating to the target audience.
There are multiple problems with this picture. The first is the concept of a “target audience”. When casting a social media net, your goal is to land as many fish as possible. Unfortunately, the trade-off for this broad-base approach is that it willingly sacrifices the concept of the individual. As most marketers are growing to understand, customer bases are constructed of individuals, and increasingly sophisticated tools for targeting market efforts are leaving less room for excuses when tailoring campaigns to customer tastes.
The second problem is the copy. Obviously, a social media post cannot include specific customer names, nor can it respond and re-target the presented material based on browsing and purchasing history. But even beyond these commercial considerations, social media posts and press releases cannot capture the tone that resonates with each individual user.
Finally, and perhaps the greatest problem with social media posts, is the context in which they appear. Twitter posts look nearly identical to every other tweet in the user's feed, particularly without an attached photograph, while posts on Facebook must spar with inane personal updates and copious other company social efforts in order to elicit attention.
In each of these facets, email is virtually unparalleled. Users who respond to a particular pitch or approach can be readily reassigned to other campaigns for maximum impact. Copy that converts can be crafted based on the intent and strategy of the individual campaign. Finally, emails appear in a venue with little additional distraction, outside of a handful of other messages.
Simply put, email marketing offers one of the greatest opportunities to individualize the reader experience and maximize the opportunity for conversion. Personalized copy thanks to mail distribution services that permit the inclusion of customer names, built with hefty research and purchasing data, and delivered in a relatively distraction-free environment allows your company to build a connection with users. The end result, predictably, is greater conversion and greater brand presence in consumer minds.
The term “engaging” is thrown around a lot. Like so many other buzzwords in the digital marketing age, it’s a stone’s throw from losing its effectiveness, simply due to the dilution the term has scene.
Up front, let’s understand what “engaging” means. Simply put, engaging content is that which elicits a response, generally through one or more avenues of interaction. For example, an HTML ebook may be engaging due to its animated page elements or due to some response to reader characteristics, creating a more immersive experience through dynamic interaction with the user.
Once again, this is no jargon. Customer respond to email campaigns that permit further interaction or respond to their individual identity/experience. According to HubSpot, emails with social sharing buttons have a 115% higher click-through rate (CTR). Additionally, the same study found that CTR increases when the recipients name is in the subject line. Dynamic responses have an effect as well, yielding a 71% higher open rate and 102% higher CTR than non-triggered email messages.
So what enables this level of engagement? What is different about email as a medium that permits this kind of interaction and responsiveness?
The first reason is that robust HTML messages can be sent directly to the customer. The capabilities of a web page can now be coded directly into an email message, complete with embedded videos, social media buttons, and other HTML-enabled services. This full control over the presentation of an email also permits the full gamut of branding, permitting the distribution of campaigns that are reinforced by impressions from other marketing channels.
The second reason is that email possesses the capacity for large-scale customization. Email sign-up forms that request an address, name, address, and country enable the compilation of massive contact lists packed with demographic data. Email services then permit the use of this data to better tailor campaigns and distribute the respective messages to list members through segmentation and automation.
Automation frees your team from the tedious task of individual distribution while segmentation enables the customization that customers seek. Specifically, automation enables the distribution of great quantities of emails based on individual customer actions. Abandoned shopping carts can be addressed with additional incentives while repeat customers can be given additional savings. Segmentation helps distribute emails based on tastes, shopping history, and other meaningful buyer characteristics.
The final reason is that email systems can be designed to strategically distribute prepared messages based on user preference or input. Subscriptions permit the distribution of regular newsletters that maintain brand presence in customer minds. Auto-responders permit the distribution of targeted emails based on survey responses or other user signals. When used in tandem, these systems allow large companies to interact with their customers in a more responsive manner.
This combination of capabilities yields a platform that’s as engaging as it is strategically robust. The net result is better re-marketing, better customer satisfaction, better ROI from email marketing efforts, and better conversion rates at the end of the funnel.
As many of you know, marketing is an iterative practice. Campaign strategies and branding effectiveness are evaluated through public reception and net effect on key metrics. In a data-driven ecosystem, it becomes more necessary every day for these insights to arise from hard numbers, tracked and assessed in a concrete manner.
For this reason, any marketing mechanism that does not permit for robust data collection is missing important insights. And while large companies can afford to take risks when adjusting their campaigns, based either on the experience of the marketing team or prediction of audience trends, small companies do not possess the same luxury.
Fortunately for companies of all sizes, email marketing possesses this inherent capacity for robust measurement. What’s different about email in comparison with other mediums is the diversity of available tracking avenues.
As an example, let’s say your business sends out a coupon code to customers for free shipping on orders through the end of the month. This email includes a selection of seasonal items to motivate a purchase. In addition, this email is sent to both new customers and returning customers alike, with a unique coupon code based on their status.
From this single email, your marketing team develops several new insights. Foremost, the application of the coupon code to ensuing orders offers a transparent look at the effectiveness of the incentive, as well as the percentage of individuals who received the coupon code who then applied it to their order. In addition, this information can be measured against the sales numbers of previous quarters for a possible look at how greatly the coupon code affected seasonal volume. Finally, the specific coupon code applied provides a clear look at what quantity of customers making purchases are new/returning customers.
This is simply one way in which email provides insight. Email campaign platforms provide even more subtle insights, including click-through rate and open rates. If you’ve included an embedded video, referral traffic to that video can indicate what percentage of recipients viewed your content. Individual tokens can be assigned to links within the email to track the responsiveness of particular items to particular customers, offering even greater insight into the value placed on the items selected to be featured in the campaign.
The list goes on, but one thing is clear: email marketing provides concrete metrics and far reaching insight to better advance your campaign, both within the medium and across multiple marketing channels. The net effect of this capacity is a greater understanding of campaign success, particularly in the context of your unique user base, permitting the development of stronger market presence.
This conceptual capacity for data insights is not without its real-world validation either. According to research, at least 91% of consumers check their email daily, with 7 in 10 individuals responding that they had used a coupon or promotion from an email in the past week. That equates to a high, consistent volume of eyes actively engaging with offers through email marketing.
The moral of this story should be obvious by now: email marketing works. While other methods of marketing struggle to lock down a committed audience, particularly social media, email marketing continues to reach audiences in a manner that’s comfortable, affordable, fruitful, and dynamic.
For large enterprises, email marketing offers a robust window into consumer tastes and ample opportunity for marketing success. Emails built and coded by designers offer an engaging experience in a saturated marketplace. A large, developed email list can be cultivated through other avenues, including Facebook, Twitter, and customer registrations. This combination of insights through response rates, click-through rates, and media interaction, alongside the demographic information from a developed contact list is Big Data heaven, permitting insight and iteration in a more efficient and effective manner.
For smaller enterprises, email marketing enables a synergistic approach to reaching customers. The customization of email enables branding efforts; a vital exercise in the development of market presence. The avenues for tracking provide a great deal of insight into a growing customer base. Finally, when your iterative efforts provide little room for error, the effectiveness of the platform allows your team to better understand your market ecosystem and more efficiently develop and distribute resources for future campaigns.
Check out the 2018 Email Marketing Industry Report by Campaign Monitor to stay up to date.
All told, no marketing work should occur on a single channel in a modern, distributed environment. Social media, direct mail, physical publications, and other channels of contact must work in tandem to present a complete brand identity that remains present in consumers’ minds. However, any marketing that occurs without full understanding of the roles and capabilities of all channels involved is bound to present challenges.
For this reason alone, email marketing deserves a serious and educated look. Without this kind of due diligence, businesses large and small run the risk of missing out on a valuable and effective marketing tool.
With a high ROI, high capacity for customization, and high return on data insights, email marketing is difficult to ignore. For business looking at their current market share, many channels can provide an immediate, but fleeting return on investment. For businesses looking at the long-haul, email marketing provides solutions that foster longevity, connection, and success.