Email Marketing Still A Necessary, Important Key to Success, But Where Do You Start?

From time to time someone will tell me that email marketing does not really work, indicating that next to social media and search marketing it fails in comparison.

By Chrissy Clary

Sometimes I try to convince them otherwise, but rarely am I successful. (This conversation can feel a little like trying to convince an addict that they will feel better once they put down the vice).  

The problem is that it can be a hard and complex tactic to wrestle with. It doesn’t sound hard initially, but between Can-SMAM, writing the perfect email subject line, customer retention tools, and email servers it can get overwhelming fast.

So how important is it really?

Dr. Ir. Eddy Soeryanto Soegoto published an article in the IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering conference journal sharing findings regarding the success of email marketing in comparison to social and other digital marketing tactics. Soegoto reports that “that email has the potential of 124% higher, in comparison with other online marketing media.”

Further, personalized emails (those that directly target the needs or wants of the receiver) tend to increase campaign success. The article Personalization in Email Marketing: The Role of Noninformative Advertising Content. Marketing Science reported that “adding the name of the message recipient to the email’s subject line increased the probability of the recipient opening it by 20% …, which translated to an increase in sales’ leads by 31% … and a reduction in the number of individuals unsubscribing from the email campaign by 17%.”

If you are a marketer today, it is necessary. Next time you are charged with building an email marketing campaign start with your user in mind and build out a plan.

Identify your target user and build a persona. You may be sending millions of emails, and sending targeted/personalized emails to each one sounds kind of crazy. If you take the time to go through the exercise of building a targeted persona for each campaign and refer to it as you are developing creative and content your emails will better give the recipient the perception of personalization.  

Pinterest has some great persona examples:

Map it out. It can be easy to focus on one email blast and think you are done for the day. Wrong. Don’t sell yourself short. Use the campaign as an opportunity to guide your user through the buying process.

I recommend that you bust out the whiteboard and Post-It notes and layout the steps one by one. Use one Post-It note for each email you plan to send and another indicating the action you hope the user will take – connect them with arrows, like breadcrumbs, indicating the next step in the process (both on the user side and the system side). You will also want to think through the actions you as an organization will take in response to the action, or non-action, of your users. For example, will you send a follow up to all those who did not click on a link in the email?

Email marketing is not dead, and should be included in the digital marketer’s tool kit, but it can be a beast to tackle. So, take a deep cleansing breath, start each campaign with good planning, and just take it one step at a time. In my experience, trying to do it all (planning, technology, design, and content) at the same time will only bog you and your team down and significantly frustrate everyone.

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