Email Marketing: The Comeback Kid of 2012

Is Email Dead?

Remember email marketing? Just two years ago, email, and with it, email marketing, was thrown by the side of the road as we all raced along on the great highway of social media connections. Why use email? Just tweet or share an update with your fans, right?

Only if you wanted to reach part of your audience. Email marketing done well can reach a very targeted audience and encourage specific actions. Sure, your tweets or Facebook posts can as well, but it’s pretty iffy that everyone who follows you or ‘likes’ you will see it. With email marketing you can get very specific, and increase your odds of survival.

There’s a really bright light on the horizon, friends. It is a new day in email marketing, one that smart marketers and business owners need to take note of and plan accordingly.  

The Comeback Kid

In 2012, I predict email marketing makes a huge comeback.  Specifically, we’ll see lots more integration with your social strategy, and more importantly, with your well thought out marketing plan.

I’m not talking about posting your Constant Contact newsletter to Twitter, either. Please, stop doing that. Or, just saying “Like us on Facebook” at the bottom of your e-newsletter.  No, it’s about increasing engagement, connections to your business and yes, profits, by providing useful and compelling information, delivered at just the right time to just the right people.

Here are a few items to factor into your email marketing this year.  

  1. Video. Are you including video? You should. You’ll see a higher click rate than the plain vanilla email. Pixability loves the stuff and so does Constant Contact; they teamed up together to vouch for how wonderful the two are together. But don’t take their word for it. Take mine. My click-through rate shot up to 50% when I included video; up from around 18% without it.
  2. Mobile.  Are your emails mobile friendly? In other words, are you making sure that if I open your newsletter or announcement on my iPhone (yes, finally got one) or even on a Blackberry, that I can see it without having to click on something to download all images?  You better.  It’s a safe estimate that at least 20% (I’d say more) of your email list will view their emails on their phones first and their computer screens second.  Do you want to risk losing that 20% due to frustration over viewing? Make sure you test your emails on a variety of platforms as well – what works well on one may not work so well on another.
  3. Driving Your Point Home (Links to Owned Media). Are you giving your audience something to click on to take them back to your owned media? Your website, maybe? If not, why aren’t you?  Make them read more, or at least want to read more, but please, don’t say “click here to read more.”
  4. Segmentation. Are you segmenting your lists or just sending it to the whole lot of ‘em? Segmentation is a powerful tool. It can allow you to really zero in on the 100 folks on your list that want to know about lanolin based lip products (shameful client plug) and acknowledge that the other 400 don’t. Want to take the lazy way out and not segment based on interest, open rate, or geographic location and you’ll risk having a major unsubscribe rate.  That’s not the kind of metric you want to see.
  5. Frequency. Are you sending your emails too often? Not enough? That frequency, Kenneth, depends entirely on your content, your audience and the expectations you established when you started sending emails to them. Content matters in email marketing.  If it’s the right kind of content, people will tune in as much as they need to as often as you send it. Are you solving problems or are you busy hitting quota? Careful not to fall victim to the trap of ‘top of mind awareness’ games that result in very few winners and only your brand as the loser.
  6. Timing. Are you sending emails only at a certain time of day? Or, are you experimenting with that to find the best opportunities for engagement? Have you noticed a drop off if you send emails too often? Not enough? While time plays a role, timing really isn’t EVERYTHING in email marketing.  Understanding who you’re sending your emails to, and what is important to them, IS.
  7. Audience. Just like the segmentation dance, audience characteristics can impact this decision. Let’s look at women aged 34-55 with children, the so called “Soccer Mom.”  If you’re a retail owner that happens to sell clothes or shoes, you might consider sending emails between 3:00 and 4:00 pm. For many of these uber busy moms, this is ‘catch up’ time in their car while waiting on kids.  Think about it, captive audiences with smart phones, who shop online.
  8. Measurement!  You know I had to bring it up. Even though metric could very well be one of the most overused and misunderstood words of the past year, the idea that you should measure your success against certain benchmarks and goals is valid and not going away anytime soon.  When it comes to email marketing, remember that percentages can be misleading and that ‘industry averages’ are not a one-size fits all for your audience or your business.  Achieving a 10% open rate on a 100K mailing list may not reach your industry standard, but it’s a darn fine way to start the day!

Don’t get caught up in industry standards. Get caught up in your customers and the rest will work out just fine.

image via Flickr

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