When you look at the past 20 years of Web business, one thing becomes very, very clear - email is a core part of digital marketing success.
In every annual review of top channels, in every suggested opportunity to gain website traffic, deepen engagement and drive revenue, a reference to email as a channel will be in each one.
Many enterprises may not feel as though email will be able to generate a satisfactory amount of results by itself, which may very well be the case. The truth of the matter, however, is that email has always worked best when it aligns itself with other promotional and experience-driven opportunities. Email provides brand marketers an opportunity to capitalize and convert their users (through sign-up forms for example) and then monetize or engage their audience by sending to that recipient list.
Email outperforms other digital channels only when it is looked at in this omni-promotional way. Marketers cannot send to recipients without first having their email address (and their permission, of course) and there is simply no way to capitalize on the interest of consumers either. There are those companies who invest heavily into email without making this fundamental realization and it is to their detriment.
For those just getting started with email, or even those in the early exploratory phases of the email channel and the potential benefits of doing so, consider the following:
- Acquisition is the hardest part It is not just small brands that have a difficult time obtaining recipients for their list. Acquisition of email addresses is the single most difficult part of any marketing initiative. Dedicate the most resources to retaining list recipients rather than acquiring them and brands will find that email outperforms other digital channels with ease.
- Leverage current and existing creative assets Another reason that email is such a valuable part of the digital marketing mix is because brands are able to use the assets they have already developed. From user onboarding guides to in-depth how-to articles, email is the perfect channel to deliver assets that will be valued by prospects and clients alike for their specific location in the buying journey.
- Nearly guaranteed awareness (but not delivery) Unlike search engine optimization (SEO), advertising or social media (where efforts can be in vain based on a number of factors outside of a marketer's control), email is a nearly guaranteed way to build awareness for a product or offer. Companies own the list and can quickly send a notification to their prospects and clients. Similar reach could take six months through SEO or thousands of dollars in the case of advertising. While there is no guarantee that messages will be delivered, there are best practices that almost certainly improve the likelihood of such.
- Measurable more than any other channel One possible explanation for the relatively low investment in and adoption of the email marketing channel is that it is measurable to an incredible degree. Not only is it possible to know how many messages were delivered, but how many people opened and viewed it, how many engaged with it (clicked something inside it and how many links), and most importantly, the end-result - was there a conversion or an unsubscribe? This amount and type of data just is not available through other forms of digital promotions.
Email has come a long way from the beginning of its commercial use. Senders are more efficient, smarter at delivering the right messages to the right recipient at the right time, and are better in general at identifying action triggers - what actually motivates a prospect to become a client. Email has come a long way, but it has a long way to go too.
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.