Much like you need to understand the ABCs to speak eloquently and need to memorize the periodic table to balance chemical equations, you must master the lessons of email marketing to deliver meaningful digital marketing campaigns—no matter which channel you are using. From testing and optimization to targeting and segmentation, the lessons of digital marketing were learned in email.
Email is at the center of how customers choose to interact with brands and is ranked as the most important channel for purchase influence, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) consumer and marketing executive survey. As one of the most understood and instrumented customer interaction channels, it provides a blueprint for successful marketing across every touchpoint.
So what email marketing lessons can you apply across all digital marketing?
- Develop Content That Matters: From live content and attention-grabbing titles and subject lines to valuable resources and relevant information, email marketers have mastered the art of content marketing. Once you start creating content that is useful and engaging, customers will keep coming back for more. Companies like Red Bull and Coca Cola have mastered the use of lifestyle content marketing with their creative skydiving campaigns and Olympic sponsorships. Red Bull's skydiving campaign was broadcasted on television and YouTube, and the brand also promoted the campaign via social channels. Good content goes a long way!
- Test, Test, Test: Know which words and images sell. Email marketers have understood the importance of A/B/N testing for years and now it's time to incorporate that lesson into other channels. Understand what works and what doesn't and update your campaigns accordingly. This tactic can be used across all marketing channels, whether you're testing a headline, specific promotional offers or website layout. A simple A/B/N test will help you determine the best approach for achieving the highest ROI.
- Know Your Audience and Optimize for Customer Needs: In email marketing, everything from demographics, preferences, past purchases and browsing history can inform a specific campaign. Whether you're creating social or other direct marketing campaigns, you should put all of your available customer data to use to understand your audience's needs and adapt your campaigns accordingly. If you're trying to sell tickets to a concert in San Francisco, don't market to people living in New York City. The same goes for targeted ads that we now see on Facebook and different sites across the Web. Have you noticed the promotional ads you now see on websites reflect your recent browsing history? It's no coincidence that those new shoes you were looking at a few days ago are now being featured as an ad on the side of your Facebook page. This basic rule of email has crossed over into all the channels: pay attention to what your audience wants and tailor your messages to them to deliver content that customers care about.
- Build Relationships: Brands can reach customers on their smartphones, tablets and laptops via social media, email and more. But what matters most is engaging with customers at the right moment and the right place to build a relationship from which both parties benefit. Whether it's reaching out and sending a customer a birthday email or targeting your customers with relevant emails based on location, email marketers have mastered relationship management by setting up campaigns based on users' interest level and personal preferences. And when a customer is unhappy with the email frequency or content, email marketers adjust accordingly. Companies and brands have transferred these practices into other channels, as well; and one of the most prevalent examples of this is with mobile. More and more companies are starting to target consumers via their apps to tap into customers' locations and preferences.
Digital marketing best practices were all first developed with email. It's not only the most effective digital marketing channel for ROI, but has also set foundational discipline that all successful marketers should understand to deliver meaningful messaging at every touchpoint.