7 Reasons Why Email is Still Kicking
"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." — Mark Twain
Mistaken predictions about the demise of people and things are relatively common. In the 1990s, brick-and-mortar bank branches were declared dead. ATMs and internet banking were supposed to result in the end of the local bank branch. Over the last few years, similar thoughts have been shared regarding email's fate in the digital marketing mix. Social media, SMS and mobile apps have been touted as "email killers." In the background, Facebook, Twitter and other brands have strengthened their use of email marketing to improve customer relationships.
Why would Facebook and Twitter be investing in email marketing? Here are seven reasons why:
1. Reach: Prime-time television has long been the gold standard for providing marketing campaigns the ability to reach millions of consumers. In the digital world, email carries that title. Merkle's View from the Inbox study reported that 87 percent of people check their email more than one time a day. In comparison, the same study showed only 43 percent of online adults use social networks on a daily basis. When you want to reach a large segment of your customers, email has the clear advantage.
2. Consumers like email: A recent ExactTarget study revealed that 77 percent of consumers prefer email for their commercial communications. In the same study, only 4 percent cited Facebook as their preferred channel for commercial communication. These figures are very different from what consumers indicated as their preferred channel for personal communications, with email falling to 45 percent preference and Facebook growing to 13 percent preference. You might trade comments with your friends on Facebook, but when communicating as your brand, email is how your customers want to hear from you.
3. Email is effective: The Direct Marketing Association reports that email returns $28.50 in revenue for every dollar invested in the channel. Measurement of social marketing is coming along, but email measurement is established and the track record of performance is clear. Underinvesting in your email program is likely to result in underperformance of your marketing programs.
4. Email is social: While social media is growing, Merkle's View from the Inbox study showed 61 percent of social media users are also regular emailers. As consumers adopt social media, they're not leaving email behind, but rather using both channels. This high degree of overlap also presents opportunity with Facebook Exchange, which can enable campaigns across email and Facebook advertising to be coordinated at the individual customer level.
5. Email is read on mobile devices: Just because consumers are spending more time using their mobile devices doesn't mean they've stopped reading their email. Return Path has forecasted over 50 percent of all emails are expected to be opened on a mobile platform by December 2012. This overlap presents opportunities and challenges in the coordination of SMS and email campaigns to ensure proper coordination of messages at the customer level across the two channels.
6. Email can be triggered: Emails can be sent as triggered messages to consumers in response to their interactions with your brand. Epsilon reports that triggered messages get clickthrough rates 119 percent higher than "business as usual" messages. Building customer-focused, triggered programs is a key way that leading marketers are improving the results of their email programs.
7. Email can be personal: Personalization is sometimes treated like motherhood and apple pie. Few will openly question its benefits, but we don't often measure its effectiveness. Marketing Sherpa estimates that segmented email campaigns can produce 30 percent higher open rates and 50 percent higher clickthrough rates than undifferentiated messages. Personalizing emails is a way to show consumers that your brand understands their wants and needs.
Email isn't dying. Email marketers need to continue to evolve to find ways to use email to its greatest effect in this ever-changing digital landscape. Email's combination of reach, acceptance, effectiveness and capabilities put it in a strong position to help bring together customer-focused marketing efforts now and for the foreseeable future.