3 Oscar-Worthy Marketing Channels

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Which one wins best customer touchpoint in a leading role? Read on to find out.

This past Sunday marked the 88th Academy Awards, and many of Hollywood's actors, directors, composers, and more were honored for their achievements. Marketing campaigns, like movies, feature numerous award-worthy and essential components. In film there are key elements such as visual effects, costumes, and acting; for marketing campaigns vital elements include channel, message, and timing. But, in marketing, many of these components rarely get the recognition they deserve (Leo knows the feeling).

So, in honor of Sunday's Oscars, here are three awards I would present to the marketing stars of today.

Best channel in a leading role: Email

Email is the Meryl Streep of marketing channels—it always wins and it's always good. And like Streep, it's a crowd pleaser.

Consider the following data from the “2015 State of Marketing” report by Salesforce Marketing Cloud: 73% of the more than 5,000 global marketers surveyed consider email “core” to their business. Sixty percent say it's a critical enabler of their products and services, and 20% say their business' primary source of revenue is connected to email operations.  

One of the things that makes email so appealing is its ability to generate significant returns on a moderate investments. According to the “Email Marketing Industry Census 2015” report, by Econsultancy and Adestra, 61% of the more than 500 company and in-house marketers surveyed say that email accounts for 10% or less of their total marketing budget. However, 66% of in-house respondents consider email's return on investment excellent or good. Plus, a Litmus poll of nearly 2,750 blog visitors shows that 46.5% of people expect email marketing's ROI to be higher by the year 2020.

And marketers don't have to develop advanced capabilities to take home the gold, either. According to the Econsultancy and Adestra report, 73% of company marketers who use basic segmentation experience good or excellent ROI.

Clearly, this is one channel that has managed to steal the spotlight.

Best channel in a supporting role: Mobile

From responsive design emails to user friendly Web pages, mobile's performance makes its fellow marketing channels look better. Take email, for instance. In its most recent “U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report,” Movable Ink discovered that 68% of the 6.03 billion emails analyzed in 2015 were opened via a smartphone or tablet. Same holds true for social. As of December 2015, Facebook has an average of 1.44 billion mobile monthly active users, and 80% of Twitter's active users access the social network via mobile.

Mobile also provides a vehicle for more personalized customer engagement. According to “The 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report” by comScore—a survey of 1,084 smartphone users—one third of respondents often or always enable push notifications and 42% somewhat or strongly agree that they're comfortable with apps accessing their geographic location.

Still, marketers are still struggling to fully leverage mobile's talent. For instance, “The State of Email Marketing by Industry” report by GetResponse shows that only 17% of the 1,831 global email marketers surveyed use responsive design. Similarly, the aforementioned Salesforce Marketing Cloud report finds that only 19% of marketers are leveraging push notifications.

It's time for mobile to play a more dominant role in marketers' multichannel mix.

Most dramatic channel direction: Direct mail

To say that direct mail has had a tumultuous few years would be an understatement. As the postal industry has undergone a slew of changes (see here, here, and here, for examples), marketers have had to come up with new ways to modernize the channel and integrate it into their multichannel strategies. The U.S. Postal Service is trying to make strides on this front; its Real Mail email notifications is one example.

Of course, that's not to say that direct mail still can't deliver blockbuster results. After surveying 400 U.K. office employees, Adobe discovered that although 63% of respondents prefer to receive marketing offers via email, one fifth prefer direct mail, surpassing social (6%), mobile apps (5%), text messages (4%), and phone (2%).

As 2016 unfolds—and the coming end of the exigent rate provides opportunities to increase the use of mail without significant cost increases—marketers will have to follow this channel closely and see how the saga continues.

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