Is Email Marketing Dead? Email is the preferred method of communication between businesses and customers

As a consumer, there are days when I wish email marketing was dead. As a marketer, I know that it’s not. In fact, I know that email can be highly effective, and have seen it create powerful lead and sales results for clients.  But many of us can think of emails that are textbook examples of what NOT to do — and these are the ones creating a high level of frustration for consumers.

Inboxes are full of daily emails from vendors, employees  and customers.  Most individuals spend a considerable amount of time reading email, responding to urgent and important matters, then have to contend with the rest of the inbox.  Marketing emails can be seen as an interruption of business.

To get a feel for what an average day’s worth of email looks like, I did a quick look at the number of emails I received on a Thursday. Of the 347 emails I got that day:

  • 82 were from customers or team members I needed to read or respond to.
  • 127 were caught by my spam filter (rightfully so).
  • 103 I deleted because they weren’t relevant to me or I wasn’t interested.
  • 32 still sit in my inbox because I want to review the information/offers when I have time.

I’ve only acted on three of them, and I signed up for a webinar. I would bet I’m not alone with numbers like this.

Marketers need to respect the fact that email is the preferred method of daily communication between businesses and their customers. They need to design email campaigns that present a professional  image, and provide relevant information and offers to the market.

So, what should marketers do to help their emails get attention, and get readers to “act now”?

1. Stay relevant to your list. Emails should be strategic campaigns that provide value to your customers or prospects. You have very little time to make a good impression before the reader’s attention span runs out. Targets like to know what’s new and how it will help them.  Segment as much as you can.

2. Make a compelling offer. Provide statistics relevant to market changes, a percentage or dollar off the price, free accessories, tips on increasing efficiency, and methods for reducing costs. This is what gets high response rates these days.

3. Make your email easy (and quick) to read, and the next steps should be clear and easy to follow.

4. Make your landing page easy to read and quick to fill out.

5. Test your subject line. Be careful to avoid words spam filters monitor, like “free.” Keep subject lines to 50 or 60 characters to avoid having the message cut off in the target’s inbox.

6. Test your From line. Does a key person’s name work best? Or the company name? Does it help to add a department, etc. Consider a/b split testing to see which variations work best.

7. Personalize the email with the person’s first name, or with information from your database (such as what product they last purchased, maintenance timing, new service offerings, etc.).

8. Monitor your open and click-through rates to understand what you’re really getting.  This will help you play to your strengths, and eliminate what isn’t working.

9. Test the frequency of your emails. Too often, and you’ll quickly exhaust the patience of your target market.  Not often enough, and they won’t remember who you are.

10. Watch what others are doing and incorporate the best elements.  I keep a folder of great landing pages, great e-mails, and great subject lines.  And I refer to the folder every time I work on a campaign with a client. You can get some great ideas from what others are doing.

Email is a highly cost-effective marketing tactic that can be an important element in your marketing program for the year.  It provides you with one of the quickest returns on investment, and usually the quickest results (particularly versus direct mail).  It integrates extremely well with other tactical elements in your program, including social media, PR and trade show campaigns.

Develop your strategy early and do your homework to ensure your campaign delivers the response rate you want.

01/25/2013

About Tim Cook

Tim has more than 25 years of B2B marketing experience. He leads The Mx Group’s Client Services and Demand Generation departments. Previously, Tim held senior marketing positions at the global outsourcing firm Convergys, and served clients at McCann-Erickson and Resource Marketing. Tim completed his B.A. in English literature from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He completed certificate programs in integrated marketing communications and change management at the Chicago Graduate School of Business.