While the newest and trendiest social media outlets may be all the rage for advertisers these days, there’s one old-school digital platform that’s making a big comeback: email. In fact nearly 75% of marketers say they will continue to invest in email marketing in 2015, and certainly not without good reason.
Of course, for most people "email marketing" brings to mind inboxes full of annoying spam or delete-without-reading newsletters, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Email can be as effective a marketing tool as any, if done right, and has been used to successfully drive sales for small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike.
To begin with, email offers some important advantages that are hard to find in any other marketing media.
- It’s personal – Few platforms let you reach your audience in such a direct way. It's easy to segment out what you send to those on your list and tailor messaging to fit their individual interests.
- It's cost-effective – It’s not only exponentially less expensive to send out 10,000 emails instead of 10,000 direct mail pieces, you may also get a better return on investment in the end. Just consider that the Direct Marketing Association estimates the ROI on email marketing to be over 4000%. You read that right, 4 thousand.
- It's measurable – With simple metric tools you can see who opened your message and who clicked through to your site it. Email’s real-time feedback means you can determine how effective your messaging is and make quick, cost-effective adjustments if needed.
The "New" Email Marketing
One of the big reasons that email is making a comeback is because of a shift toward using it to "pull" attention from an audience rather than "push" a message on them, which can be accomplished in a few different ways.
- Always add value – Instead of newsletters or meaningless company updates, focus on content that is valuable in some way to your recipients. It’s what people open, it’s how they’ll trust your company, and it’s what may help lead them to doing business with you. There’s room for this in every industry. Auto dealer? How about “5 features you’ll want in a new car”. B2B manufacturing? How about “How to better use ABC feature of XYZ product.”
- Build better relationships with auto-responder – Auto-response is a feature that lets you send out emails in the same sequential order for every new user that signs up. This means that rather than sending everyone on your list whatever email you happen to be on that month, you can craft a chain of messages that thoughtfully build upon one another and bring that customized conversation to each new recipient.
- Start conversations – Smart email marketers are also using email to listen to their target audience. Asking for feedback such as “What topic would you like hear about in our next email/blog?” not only increases audience engagement, it helps you learn about your customers’ needs and how you can better serve them.
Before You Jump In
With low setup costs and quick turnaround, it’s easier than ever to begin an email campaign, but if you want long-term success there are a few key factors to pay attention to.
- Test and improve – Don’t be afraid to A/B test variables such as subject lines, message topics, length and send time/day by sending out different versions to each half of your list. While there are mounds of research on general best practices, the only way to find the right mix for your specific audience is to test, find out what’s successful and keep building on it.
- Go for list quality, not quantity – Much like having a lot of social media followers, having a list of 10,000 email addresses does you little good if only 500 of those are ever going to be potential customers. An excess of unqualified leads skews your ability to measure your campaign’s actual effectiveness, which is why the best email lists are built by having your audience opt-in and sign up to receive messages.
- Good design and writing matter – If you’re not sharing useful, well-written and professional looking content with your recipients then all of your efforts may be for naught. It’s well worth investing extra upfront in thoughtful strategy, good copywriting and design work to ensure that your emails don’t just go out, but get opened, drive engagement and ultimately increase sales. At St. Gregory Group we’d be happy to talk about how we can use our own experience in this arena to help enhance your marketing efforts, be it email or otherwise. So let’s get in touch soon, perhaps by email?