More customers are interacting with brands through social media so having a strong marketing plan that concretes a business presence on the web is paramount. If implemented successfully, marketing with social media can enable even small businesses the opportunity to reach out to more customers.
An outreach element that seems to have lost some of its lustre is email marketing. It may be deemed as old school now as a lot of people have moved on from their Hotmail and AOL account and email is no longer the cool kid on the block anymore.
Statistics show that email is still hugely effective, and is an element that all brands really should consider as part of their overall strategy plan. Here are a few reasons why brands should not ignore email marketing, and tips on how to maximise email response rate and performance.
1. Email marketing is more effective than social media.
It’s true, research by McKinsey and Company in 2014 found that:
“Email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.”
This is based on US data, but the numbers are indicative of the power and success of email marketing as a practice; although consumer behaviour is shifting. The same McKinsey report also showed a 20% decline in email usage between 2008 and 2012, with users diversifying their attention into social media networks – but the fact is that email is still a highly effective and accessible medium.
One of the big reasons for this is that email is permission-based. People sign-up for email lists because they want to receive information from a company about its goods and services, thus, they’re far more receptive to their offers, which increases the conversion rate. Users are on Facebook to see updates from their friends and family and people go to Twitter for the latest news and updates. Signing up to email alerts is a strong indicator that a person is genuinely interested in receiving updates from that particular company, a factor that plays a significant part in the much higher rate of success with email outreach.
What’s more, while the number of active users on social media is steadily increasing, email is already embedded within our interactive processes; in the US alone, 91% of consumers are using email on a daily basis. In the future, as the next generation of consumers grow up with social as part of their communications DNA, we’re likely to see similar high rates in that sphere – but right now, among the majority of consumers, email still reigns supreme as a conversion channel. Of course, your target demographic will dictate where you should focus – if you’re aiming for 18-24 year-olds you may get a better response by honing in on the social platforms where they’re present and active – but email marketing shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored in your marketing planning process.
2. E-mail is cheap.
There has been many rumblings among online marketing communities about Facebook’s algorithm shifts, reducing the organic reach of posts to a mere pittance of your overall audience share. Facebook’s justification for this is that users were complaining about being flooded with ads. The solution? Reduce ad reach – unless, of course, the brand is willing to pay for it.
Increasingly, Facebook is becoming a pay-to-play network. If you want to reach your audience, you’ll need to pay to do so. The business logic makes sense – Facebook has the audience attention and ad revenue contributes to more than 92% of their $3 billion overall take – but many have been left feeling duped and annoyed that they spend significant time and effort establishing followings on the platform only to have Facebook move the goal posts at their whim.
The truth of it is that all the major networks are eventually likely to become pay-to-play. With growth comes expectation and with expectation comes the need to deliver, to innovate and to show revenue results to their investors. The major providers are built on potential, and there’s an expectation that they’ll back that up, driving the need for them to find new ways to utilise the attention and audience they’ve established on their networks. And the best way to capitalise on audience is to sell advertising. But email – people who’ve signed up to your email list – remains outside the reaches of such shifts.
Those who’ve signed up to be part of an email list have effectively endorsed that they’re interested in receiving updates. Reaching these people is free – there’s no pay-to-play on the horizon in email marketing and no charges to reach your audience with your brand messages. You just load up your email list and hit send – easy. Granted, this is not advertising in the same sense as you might do on social as it’s not targeting a new audience, but the Facebook changes have underlined that there is value in brands building and maintaining their own contact lists, outside of social networks, which leads onto post 3.
3. Your email lists are not affected by algorithms.
Once people sign-up to receive your updates via email, they are yours, on your ‘owned’ turf. Social networks can pull the rug out at any time – Facebook is continuously changing and updating its sharing process, causing marketing teams headaches along the way. But when people sign-up to hear from you or your brand, you’re free to use that privilege as you see fit. Spamming them with a continuous stream of marketing messages will turn people off but used well and timed right, your email audience will remain a constant opportunity to connect with your most responsive and relevant audience. Social networks can add to this and should also be used in conjunction with your email efforts, but your email list is just that – yours. The platforms can’t change the rules overnight and limit your ability to connect.
So how do you maximise email marketing? There are a few notes to keep in mind with email, and a few points to consider that can help build your response rates.
- Email is the first step in your marketing outreach.
Once a user clicks on a link, they’ll be taken to whatever page you choose to refer them to – so it’s important to consider the customer journey in a holistic sense to ensure your offers and content are generating the best response. If someone clicks on a link to ‘get 25% off slippers’ and is re-directed to your home page, it’s not the most effective use of your outreach efforts. Your landing pages should be customised to your offers to ensure the best user experience from start to finish.
- Try, test and assess.
There are no definitive rules on what will and won’t work for email marketing. Sure, there are some solid guidelines and principles, but what works for your audience, might be significantly different to what works for someone else. It’s important to analyse what works as a result of your email marketing program by looking at what offers are getting the most clicks and what headlines result in the highest open rates. These details are key to maximising your email marketing performance – if you’re not learning, you’re not improving. The results of your email efforts are all measurable so it’s important you take advantage of this and learn from this.
- Customisation and Personalisation.
Your email list is data, information and details you can use to better target and focus your marketing efforts. You can choose which emails get sent to which subscribers and what message each individual will get. You divide an email list any way you choose, and in doing so, you can create real, personalised experiences for each person. The growth of social media has largely been fuelled by the power of personalisation and that it gives every individual a voice on the world stage. We’re entering an age where personalisation is rising in importance – the more you can tailor your marketing messages to specific people the higher your chance of achieving better click–through and conversion rates. With an email list, you’re free to experiment with this and to analyse your audience as you see fit.
- Got coupons or rewards?
A study by Nielsen found that 27% of US online shoppers subscribe to store or product emails in order to save money. A study by Shop.org found that 64% of internet users are just as likely to print a coupon from an email as they are from a newspaper ad insert. A significant number of consumers sign up to email lists to stay abreast of offers or incentives – this is a great way to maintain brand awareness and maximise email click-throughs.
Email marketing remains a solid tactic and is still delivering good results, particularly for brands that are taking the time to segment and personalise their efforts. When considering a social marketing plan, don’t neglect the opportunities of email – it’s a valuable resource and an opportunity not to be missed and one which will remain relevant for some time to come.