Don’t Forget, Marketing Is About the Customer

In today’s consumer world
there’s no escaping technology. According to the *MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, powered
by MECLABS and sponsored by Vocus, 58% of surveyed marketers cite the growing presence of
mobile and tablets as a prime development that will affect email marketing programs
in the next 12 months. Likewise, 57% cite social as a current force to be
reckoned with. And with so many tablets, laptops, and smartphones to consider,
it’s easy for marketers to get wrapped up in liking, and linking, and
downloading and forget about the prime focus: connecting with the customer.

“I think sometimes in
marketing we get caught up in terminology, technology, and specific channels,
but our customers don’t think this way. If we took a step back, we would see
that people don’t care about this technology called email. Or mobile. Or social
media,” says Daniel Burstein, director of editorial content of MECLABS and a contributor
to the report. “What they care about is communicating with each other. And
finding the information they need.”

Burstein’s advice: To
better connect with recipients, don’t think about email marketing in a vacuum.
For example, mobile’s budding presence has lead to email triage, or what
Burstein calls an “addictive replacement to the smoking break.” Burstein
acknowledges that these deleting sprees has caused consumers to prioritize
their email rather than simply read it and advises marketers to include a
pre-header and frontloaded or short subject line.

In regards to social,
Burstein recommends taking advantage of “social proof.”

“People are more likely to
act when others act,” Burstein explains. “And interestingly enough, as we talk
about the difference between technology and human habits, this psychological
phenomenon was written about before the advent of social media technology, and
the technology has reinforced the human habits.”

To better tap into the
human psyche, Burstein suggests incorporating the popular products and content
shared on a business’s social channels in that business’s emails. He says this
strategy will help marketers use social media to help verify which content
resonates with target audiences, support customers’ psychological desire to
take action, and propel sharing.

However, the only truly
effective way to determine email’s ROI is to measure, measure, measure. And
while 60% of marketers believe email marketing is generating ROI, 17% of
marketers admit that they are not involved with tracking, analyzing, or
reporting email metrics, according to the report.

“You cannot optimize for a
KPI, if you do not measure that KPI,” Burstein says.

When it comes to the
growth of email lists, is appears that slow and steady wins the race. According
to the report, 50% of marketers cite their email list growth as “somewhat”
positive and say it has increased slowly over the past 12 months. Burstein
recommends that marketers who want to speed up the growth process establish a
value proposition for the list and to promote the list the way they would for
any other product or service, such as via paid online and offline channels,
contests, homepages, and QR codes.

“After all, while signing
up for an email list is ostensibly ‘free,’ in reality, you are asking customers
to pay with their time and their trust,” he says.

However, Burstein warns
marketers not to get too bogged down with constantly acquiring the next “shiny
new tool” when it comes to fusing email with mobile. “Responsive design is
great, but if you can’t make that investment right now, take a mobile-first
approach,” Burstein says. “Design all your emails to read well on mobile. Not
only will this help for recipients that actually read your emails on
smartphones, but you’ll likely find by taking this approach it forces you to
create simpler, clearer emails that are more effective no matter where they’re

*Updated March 11th, at 12:00 PM ET

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