Why You Shouldn’t Delete Email From Your Marketing Strategy
By Colin Ryan
You might be thinking “a bit” is an understatement. Email marketing, after all, has been around in some form since email first saw widespread use in the early 1990s. But consider some recent news: Twitter has acquired RestEngine, a personalized email marketing service that sends individually targeted emails to subscribers based on their usage history. HubSpot recently began offering its own email marketing tools. Engagio has taken their inbox-style social media management app a step further by putting your notifications in your actual Gmail inbox. These are all innovators when it comes to creating and tracking conversations online. So why are they spending time and money on something as “antiquated” as email?
Obsolete? The Stats Say Otherwise
First, whatever your opinion regarding email, chances are your habits haven’t changed much: You’re using it. Often. Here are a few stats:
- Facebook may be on its way to a billion users, but there are well over 3 billion email accounts in the world. That’s expected to rise to 4.1 billion by 2015.
- 83 percent of adults say email is the first tool they check at the top of their business day, while 72 percent say they check email six or more times daily.
- If email died out, teens would likely be the ones responsible—but 44 percent of them think email will stick around, while only 15 percent say the opposite.
Second, if email itself is antiquated, the way people are using email is not:
- A recent study found that email opens on mobile devices increased by 82 percent over the past year, putting smartphones and tablets on track to surpass both desktop and webmail email views by midyear.
- All told, 88 percent of people check their email from a mobile phone daily.
- A recent MailChimp survey found that 72 percent of respondents read emails on a mobile device from bed in the morning. Other popular locations: public transportation, restaurants and bars, waiting in line, etc.
And finally, the most important stat: 77 percent of people prefer to receive permission-based marketing messages via email, compared to just 5 percent for Facebook and Twitter combined. This makes sense—after all, people primarily visit social networks to, well, socialize. Plus, social media are noisy enough as it is without having to filter out a barrage of marketing messages. This points to an important shift in the way people view email: namely, as a refuge from all that noise. Your inbox is your own, a space where you can view content that’s relevant only to you, rather than to anyone and everyone you know.
That’s not to say that successful email marketing is easy. If anything, it’s more difficult than ever. For one thing, years of spam have made people savvier about differentiating emails with inferior content from messages that are actually useful. For another, someone on the go will come to a quicker judgment of an email’s content than someone in front of their computer. But a critical audience isn’t necessarily an unreceptive audience—in fact, on average, people surveyed by MailChimp saved 20-25 mobile emails to read later from a laptop or desktop.
How to Build Your Email Campaign
So what do you have to do to have your emails included in that list and otherwise get the return you want on your email campaign? First, put the time and energy into creating an engaging email product. Too often, email marketing is a retrofit, an afterthought, a place to stick content that either isn’t good enough to put elsewhere or has been repurposed half a dozen times. Lead with an attention-grabbing subject line, include insightful and distinctive written content, and end on a clear call to action. Also, be sure to personalize as much as you can, both with the content itself and with the voice that’s delivering it.
Second, pay attention to design. You can exercise a lot more creativity when it comes to email visuals these days, but that doesn’t mean you should. Remember, your email isn’t your webpage: it’s a way to get people to your webpage. So keep it clean and simple, with text, a few spaced-out links, and one to three images. Also, be sure to use descriptive tags for any images and include a plain text version in case a recipient has trouble viewing your content.
Third, the majority of people (66 percent) cite email as their preferred method of sharing content, so make it easy for them to do it, however they want to do it. That means including sharing buttons and links for social media outlets in your emails as well. Also make your content easy to subscribe and respond to. Link calls to action with lead capture forms and landing pages paired with that specific campaign.
Finally, don’t stop at a monthly newsletter. By providing a steady and diverse stream of both short- and long-form content, you can engage potential customers where they’re most likely to listen to what you have to say: their inbox sanctuaries.
Published on May 18, 2011