Email on a mission

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Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News
Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News

Whether delivering content, promotions, or holiday cheer, email delivers results. In fact, 63% of marketers say email is the engagement channel through which they realize the highest ROI, according to a study by Message Systems.

It's no wonder. Email is a marketing workhorse. It can stand on its own, providing information, special invitations, statements, and more. It can serve as the core of a multichannel campaign. Or, it can provide support to other channels.

Last month, for example, White House | Black Market sent me a birthday greeting and discount coupon via postal mail. A few days later the clothing retailer sent me an email with birthday wishes and a thank-you for being a customer and nothing more. That email served two purposes: to subtly remind me that I had a coupon to use, but just as important, to show that the company values me as a customer. Make a simple, well-timed, and relevant statement and inspire action as a result. Yes, I went to the store within days of receiving that email, and have been back twice since then.

As much as email is a marketing mainstay, the channel is also in a state of constant flux. Marketer's continuous mission to improve its performance has become more challenging as social and mobile channels alter the way customers interact with brands in general, and via email in particular. It's no wonder that, according to findings from the 2012 Marketing Executive Survey by ClickSquared and The Relevancy Group, the top three priorities for marketers are:

  • greater use of analytics to optimize mailings,
  • integrating into social channels and leveraging social data, and
  • improving segmentation and targeting.

Customer as curator

While these priorities are for marketing overall, they're just as important for email marketing specifically. Email marketers have the potential to boost email marketing performance significantly through enhancements in those three areas. Greater insight from analytics, for example, can provide the knowledge needed to improve everything from subject lines and messaging, to content and timing, to segmentation and targeting. Better segmentation and targeting can help get the right message to the right customer at the right time. And integrating email with social—and mobile, for that matter—can help boost the performance of each channel individually and a campaign overall.

More and better insight leads to adjustments and actions that compel some type of customer response, whether a click, purchase, or share. Tracking and analyzing that response (or non-response), and then making changes based on that information, will create a virtuous cycle that will help to continuously optimize email performance.

While some marketers are shifting more and more of their marketing budget to social and mobile, the majority still rely on email marketing to stay connected to customers throughout their life cycle—from onboarding and growth to retention and loyalty.

Major brands use email as the core of their customer outreach strategies, learn how to optimize email basics, stand out in an overcrowded inbox—especially at the holidays, and get advice from industry insiders on trends to watch right now.

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