Posted 16th October 2014 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

Email marketing - it's dead and gone. The bright lights of social media and more interactive approaches to marketing have overtaken it. People don't read email any more - they treat it all as spam. Email has been devalued and you don't get any decent results out of it. In fact, email is dead as a marketing medium.

Wrong!

Twitter may have 271 million users giving 500 million tweets a day.
Youtube may have 6 billion hours of video viewed a month.
Facebook may have 1.3 billion users.

But around 3.3 billion people have email accounts now and 4.3 billion people will own email accounts across the world by 2016. Spam is trending down while email volumes are trending up. Social media is fine, but the engine of the Internet still remains email. It's very much alive: we all use email, every day. And there are some key pointers to note about it:

  • It's measurable - unlike most social media
  • It's based on permission - unlike some social media
  • It's targeted - unlike social media generally
  • It's part of an integrated digital strategy - along with social media, your website and online advertising.

So what tells us that email is not dead after all, other than that there are billions of email users in the world? First of all, annual stats for open and click are growing - and particularly for the public sector, interestingly. Secondly, clicks to opens ratios are similarly on the up - click to open measures how engaged people are and it's calculated by dividing the opens by the clicks.

eConsultancy's recent survey of companies and their return on investment through online marketing revealed that email was the best value:

"email marketing was ranked as the best channel in terms of return on investment, with 68% of companies rating the channel as 'good' or 'excellent'."

"On average, companies are attributing 23% of their total sales to the email marketing channel, compared to 18% in 2013. This equates to a proportionate rise of 28% in just one year."

"One proven way to boost ROI is to make use of functions such as personalization, automation, dynamic content and mobile optimization. The report shows that there is a trend where email ROI increases markedly with increased use of email platform functionality." (eConsultancy, March 2014)

return_on_investment.jpg

So let's check out some of the benefits of email marketing - there are 11 in total. Compare all of these with metrics for print and postal mail.

1. Cost reduction
Costs are low with a typical self-managed campaign for up to 10,000 subscribers costing around £200 to send from a quality server - the more you send, the cheaper it gets.

2. Power of the opt-in
The people who opt-in have chosen to be communicated with - they want to hear from you. Trust is a powerful connection.

3. Drives website traffic
The whole point is to garner clicks - because you can count them. Email traffic will count as a referrer to your site on Google Analytics and therefore is accountable and measurable.

4. Engagement
Email helps build communities of engaged people who want to know more about your organisation and its activity. It can highlights the areas of your content that people are interested in through measurement, allowing you to improve and refine the messages you send and it extends the reach of the campaign through social media and Forward to a Friend. It calls people to action with imperatives such as Buy now! Register now! Tell us your opinions!

5. Speed
Mass communications can be created, tested, signed-off and transmitted in very little time. All that's involved, assuming a pre-designed template is available, is to add the content in the template, share it for validation and sign off, test mail it and check everything, lock and approve for sending. Transmission typically takes a few minutes, depending on volumes being sent.

6. Personalisation
With email, you can tailor the message to the user or segment the users and vary the message with ease for each group. It allows you to precisely target people with specific interests through segmentation of data and variation of campaign content and you can add people's names and other stored data such as login details or programme names to the message.

7. Test and learn
Try out different approaches with varying content such as headline, subject line, body copy or graphics. Then compare different audiences with different messages through A/B testing facilities, which trial the mailings to two small sets of data, and then send the remaining addresses mail in the winning format.

8. Bang per buck
Because of low cost, Return on Investment (RoI) is high. Email is very measurable and easy to report - the management information it produces is valuable for justifying your expenditure.

9. Complementary
Email sits well with existing print communications, provides a focus for website page launches and it integrates with social media through social bookmarks.

10. Environmental
Email is low cost as well as green! There's no print, post or recycling involved.

11. Scheduled and automatic mailings
You can set up campaigns for new registrants, anniversaries, renewals, or any other triggers you may care to think of. For example, mailings could be triggered every time you add new content on your website or blog.

To make it all work well, you should take note of the following:

  • Mobile platforms are growing in their reception of mobile-friendly email - it's more effective than text and more personal than social media. Therefore responsive templates are vital to keep mobile users onside.
  • DIY is a great approach for your email campaigns. With well-designed templates and a good system, DIY is a breeze. It means you have control over your own comms and don't need to involve an agency unless you get stuck. Everything is centralised in one system: creation, testing, transmission, statistics, subscriber management and so the only thing you need is a professionally designed template. With the template in place, just add articles with headline, body copy, call to action and link and images too if relevant. Then sign-off, test, send and measure
  • Your email should be part of your greater marketing strategy and map onto it with links to all other aspects of your campaigns

Quality processes should underline all of the work to ensure you have a quality campaign:

Quality of design, content and imagery - dull email goes straight into trash. A lively attractive email catches the eye and holds the reader’s attention. Don’t think of design as just being imagery - it’s also the content, including subject line (the gateway to the email), headline (stop ‘em in their tracks) and the body copy and call to action. Carefully designed to be effective and high quality.

Quality of list management and list building - your opted in subscribers need your care and attention. They need to be able to update their details, unsubscribe, change email address, whenever they want. Also this can help you to personalise your message.
Managing your subscribers well and keeping the list fresh by regular mailing is vital to maintain quality.

Quality of sending system - cheap facilities give cheap results. A good quality system will optimise the chances of the email reaching its target, it will ensure that images are delivered efficiently and separately from the body of the mail (you don’t want to be loading a heavy image when you’re receiving it on a phone connected only on GPRS) and it will be trusted (whitelisted) by the receiving email systems that finally hand the mail over to the reader.

Quality of testing - everything: content - spelling, grammar, punctuation; images - not broken, legal (do you own it) and of the right thing; links - not broken and, does it go to the right page with the right product in the right size and the right colour; test on different email clients to make sure the mail will look right whether its viewed on a webmail system, Outlook 2007 or an iPhone.

Quality of integration with social media and website - social bookmarks that are embedded in the mail allow subscribers to share the mail with their network of friends; forward to a friend lets subscribers send your mail on to other people (who you don’t know) and attach a message to the forwarded mail - I saw this and thought of you; and so on

Quality of measurement - good management information helps you to prove your return on investment. You’re measuring Opens first of all to see who has read the mail and then clicks to see who is interested in what. And don’t forget that you can follow up the people who click, because your reporting system should allow you to see their email addresses. Then there’s measurement with Google Analytics - see where people have come into your website from your mail and where they went next.

Yep - the whole thing is about quality. Design, Lists, Sending, Testing, Integration and Analysis. Without having a quality approach, your email will be mediocre and we’ve all received poor emails. What happens to them? In the bin. The old adage applies - a good reputation takes a lifetime to gain and a moment to lose. Build quality into your email marketing a delight your subscribers with this powerful medium.

Good email marketing, well executed, with an eye for quality and integrating with your other online media will build your business. 

Nick Evans from ExtraMile

nick

About Nick | Meet our Chairman

Shirty Chairman