Is Email Marketing Still Relevant?
As an Email marketer, I sometimes feel like a black sheep in the digital marketing landscape. I’m sure you’ve felt it before. When someone asks, “So what do you do in marketing?” You rack your brain trying to devise an explanation that won’t result in the response: “So you’re a spammer then.” Be honest, you change your explanation every time too, just to see if the linguistic adjustment will yield a different result – I’m sure there’s an A/B Test joke in there somewhere.
The reality is, our craft competes for eyeballs and budgets with other digital formats that (in many cases) require ten times the investment but drive a fraction of the results depending on where you define success. I’m not saying that social media, the web and mobile applications aren’t important; they are an integral part of the new digital landscape where customer expectations are extremely high. However, it sometimes feels like many brands still place email as an after-thought and maybe don’t see the consistent importance email plays in the overall customer experience.
It wasn’t until I attended the inaugural Litmus Email Design Conference in Boston this year that it really dawned on me how important and relevant email still is to digital marketing. There is something to be said about getting into a room with a whole bunch of like-minded individuals with the similar experiences, knowledge and questions that makes you feel like you really are part of something great. The organization of this conference enables all of us in Email Marketing to get together and share our knowledge, insights and most importantly support each other in reiterating how truly awesome Email really is.
Here are some major takeaways that I walked away with from the conference that I’d like to share and hopefully remind all you Email Marketers out there how important we really are to the marketing mix:
We Are The Foundation Of The Relationship
- We are there when a user FIRST expresses real interest with flowers, or at least a warm welcome (program).
- Over time, we strengthen relationships by establishing relevant and useful dialogue with our customers, because we listen and learn about each individual’s interests err…open and click habits.
- We even rekindle the relationship if the flame starts to fade, because we have the tools to understand them like that…through active and inactive analysis of course.
- While others (like social media) float in and out of customers lives passively, we actively send our love right to them and wait for action, when they’re ready…no pressure.
We Learn & Work Faster
- We are able to learn so much more about individual users than any other large scale digital format. We can learn what makes them open, what makes them click and more recently, how their reading environment (mobile or desktop) changes the way they interact or where their needs lie. That’s pretty cool!
- In the time it takes to create an entirely new website or social media campaign, Email marketers are able to deploy multiple campaigns using split tests and dynamic content to learn more about our customers both faster and smarter.
- The amount of information we are able to compile, segment and test allows us to constantly optimize through iteration and periodical improvement. Allowing us to create great programs that increase ROI for brands more than any other digital channel!
We Create Results In A World Of Constraint
- We employ some of the most diverse design tactics to create the best customer experiences across an ever changing landscape of devices, applications and email clients
- Design = constraint. We don’t throw our hands up and say “it can’t be done” when a new rendering issue arises or when our customers change their device reading habits. We use Ninja tactics to mix coding frameworks from old to new school to design beautiful responsive emails that increase engagement across all platforms.
We’ll Be Relevant For The Foreseeable Future
- The rumors of email’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Inside the email world, we can all relate to hearing this, yet it seems like the budget keeps growing (or at least maintaining) for most of us.
- Social hasn’t replaced email, it has only made it more powerful. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all invest heavily in email because their platforms are passive – again, email is the killer push notification that gets users to act. (By the way, you need an email address to sign up for social networks.)
- As long as we continue to find new solutions to reach customers whether it’s through optimizing the email experience with responsive designs, abandon shopping cart win backs or complex dynamic content driven off web activity and CRM we can rest assured email will always have a place in the digital mix – though not without its new challenges which we will gladly take on and conquer.
As we all move into what is probably the busiest season for any digital marketer, let’s keep our heads held high. We all serve a purpose to create great experiences for consumers and solve problems for our clients. And while it might not always be the most glamorous, newsworthy channel out there, email marketers can rest assured that we’ll be the ones who consistently prove our value year over year with the perfect blend of creativity and measurement. Thanks to Litmus and everyone who attended the conference for reminding us of that, looking forward to next year!