How Is Email Changing in 2012?

Reggie Brady, Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions

Email is one of the most important digital marketing channels, but it’s rapidly evolving. On Aug. 16, Reggie Brady will present the Integrated Email spotlight session at the Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference 2012. While working on that, we also asked her a few questions about the present and future of email.

Target Marketing: How is email changing in 2012?
Reggie Brady: The biggest change is the influence of mobile. In May, 2011 Return Path reported 16 percent of emails were read on a mobile device. In October, 2011 mobile was used to read 23 percent of emails. That number is even higher now, and a conservative estimate is that one-third of all emails are viewed on mobile. This phenomenon has dramatically changed the rules for email templates. It is vital to ensure that as many people as possible have a positive experience.

One significant change is that most of the email service providers now have services that integrate with websites and ESPs have stepped up reporting on social sharing. This gives marketers more options and intelligence.

TM: What isn’t changing about email in 2012?
RB: One aspect that hasn’t changed is that email still delivers the highest return on investment of any online or offline channel. The DMA pegs the ROI for email in 2012 at $39.40. (The second highest channel is search, pegged at $22.38.)

Email is not sexy, but it works. And where it really shines is for ongoing marketing communication of offers, providing content and cementing relationships with the marketer. Solidifying relationships means not having a “batch and blast” mentality. It means being more relevant. If marketers speak more directly to customers, the cash register will ring. Some techniques include:

  • Applying segmentation techniques;
  • Addressing inactives;
  • Putting an abandoned cart email program in place; and
  • Following up with those who browsed but did not purchase.

TM: Are there any channels that you could see displacing email in those roles? (SMS, social messaging, etc?)
RB: Today, I don’t think so. For those of your readers who can remember back to the late 1980’s, there were only a handful of channels—retail, direct mail, TV, radio, print and telemarketing. Those were the easy days! Now, there’s an explosion of channels and the customer is in control. Customers will use their preferred channels to interact with a marketer. So a marketer needs to be good at orchestrating all the channels—or at least the channels that are important. Email remains one of those channels.

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.
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