Ride out the recession with e-mail

Are we or aren’t we in a recession? Econo­mists and politicians continue to trade opinions, but at a minimum, businesses know they are facing a serious economic slump. Cost-cutting is inevitable and, conventionally, the first cuts have been made in marketing. But with the proven profitability of e-mail marketing, many feel that in this case that convention will be broken.

E-mail as a marketing channel offers a distinct set of competitive advantages, not unlike the advantages businesses seek in an economic downturn.

First and foremost is accountability. E-mail is the most measurable of all marketing channels, able to justify any investment with hard revenue and profits generated — in fact, nearly 50 times revenue for every dollar spent. E-mail is also the most reliable channel, as the results generally deliver an immediate return on investment.

Second is e-mail’s ability to help you protect your most valuable asset in a down economy: loyal customers. As a channel, e-mail offers dramatic technical advantages that enable marketers to send highly targeted and rel­evant messages. You can craft campaigns that are focused on your highest value customers, with content and offers that will keep them coming back for more. And unlike televi­sion and print, e-mail marketing offers more cost-effective opportunities to surprise and delight your customers, while at the same time generating a quick sale or two.

When it comes to low-cost, high-reward marketing channels, e-mail has no rival. In fact, your goal should be to drive as much of your customer communications to e-mail as possible, no matter what state the economy is in. E-mail gives you the ability to moni­tor customer interactions in real time and respond quickly to a need or customer con­cern. It is the ideal device for driving online revenue, managing loyalty programs, admin­istering fast customer service, and more.

Remember, e-mail is a permission-based medium. Marketers who “batch and blast” their customers with generic buy-it-now mes­sages will certainly get results, but it is the marketers who send the smartest and most relevant e-mail that will reap the greatest reward: loyal, long-term customer relation­ships. And, if we are indeed in a recession, your most important asset will be the endur­ing value of that customer loyalty.

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