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May 10, 2011

E-mail Marketing: The New E-mail Marketing?

May 10, 2011

Email is not deadRead the writing on the wall: Email marketing's not dead.  Not exactly the sort of epigram you're likely to see scrawled on the restroom stall at CBGB.  “Email marketing produces ROI regularly and reliably,” is not a trending topic in the world of graffiti.  But you might hear some chatter about this out in the marketing blog circuit. And it's true: Email marketing really isn't dead. In fact, it's booming.

I know what you're thinking: email is so old school.  That's what I was thinking when I found out that SmallBox did email marketing. I was like: what? I thought this was a cutting-edge company? Email marketing?

But it turns out that the people at SmallBox knew what they were doing with email marketing. In fact, email marketing is one of the most thriving and successful prongs of the business (for SmallBox, yes, but also for our customers).  Email may not be as sexy as Twitter, but—when managed effectively, depending on your company and your product—it will often be a more effective mechanism for bringing in return on investment.

I could go through and quibble about all the research and data that's out there dedicated to this subject, comparing this data set to that one over there. We’ll get into that a little bit later. Right now, though, I'll just cut to the chase.

Remember back when email was a hip platform—the hot new thing? Like, fifteen years ago, or whenever? There was a much smaller demographic pool open to email back then. Today, the percentage of Americans old enough to have a bank account who check their email daily is much closer to 100%. That means the number of Americans who are totally desensitized--for whom email marketing is totally played out--is smaller than the pool of new potential customers who are open to email appeals. That’s just one of the common-sense reasons why email marketing is still highly effective.

Another, harder to quantify, common-sense reason why email marketing is effective is that if your customers love your product, they want to hear from you.  They're glad to be reminded that you're still out there making great products.  For the cynics: take a look at the numbers.  If it works, it works.  And email marketing works.  It is the most direct, personal way to reach out to customers who aren’t already on your website, and that creates specific types of opportunities that are unique to email.

If you're an e-commerce site: wouldn't you like one more chance to communicate with the visitor who ditched his shopping cart right before making a purchase? In a real-life scenario your sales charisma and/or the value of your product would have gotten your customer over the hump. In person, you would have been able to close. Online, you’re going to have to reach out through email.

We’ve seen campaigns that prove email can get you up to a 30% conversion rate on lost sales--if you play your cards right.

If you're a seasonal business: wouldn't you like a more efficient way to remind your loyal customers to check you out when the time is right? Something more aggressive and targeted than PPC? Something more 'one-on-one' than Facebook Ads to let your loyal customer base know that you remember and you've got great new products again/the same great quality product they loved last year?

Email marketing was practically invented for this purpose.

Need a platform to convince your customers to upgrade to your new product without intimidating them, or scaring them off? A one-shot engagement of the customer's attention through Facebook or even on your website might not provide you with the time or the psychic impact necessary to convert your veteran client.

We’ve seen email campaigns, played right, that have convinced up to 70% of an otherwise unmotivated, sluggish clientele to make the crucial upgrade.

Let’s crunch some numbers. I’ll cite a few figures from a white paper that Internet Retailer published. “73% of chain retailers, catalogers, virtual merchants and consumer brand manufacturers spend 5% of their marketing budget on email marketing.” Two-thirds of these people report that at least 6% of their sales come from email marketing. Note: This means that email is performing out of proportion to its cost by 20% in these companies. One-third of these retailers report that email is generating 15% of their total revenue. In other words, their investment in email marketing is performing out of proportion to its marketing price tag by 300%.

So two-thirds of companies who invest in email marketing find their campaign is performing between 20% and 300% better than their other marketing dollars.

By the way, SmallBox won’t work with you on email marketing if they don’t feel fairly certain that you are one of the two-thirds of companies for whom e-mail marketing will perform at a high level of return.

Granted, these strategies are working because they're part of a larger, diversified marketing plan, but the implication seems pretty obvious: email marketing is an absolutely integral part of marketing for two-thirds of online merchants. That seems like a pretty straightforward takeaway.

Reliable ROIWhether you're looking for a scaled solution to fit your business and go after specific goals (like the packages that SmallBox offers) or a super-refined custom  email marketing software solution to deal with the massive nightmare of your million-thronged list of addresses (like Exacttarget's), you're probably going to want to consider making room for email marketing as a part of your marketing plan.

What has your experience with email marketing been? Does it square with the figures provided via Internet Retailer in this blog post? What do you think?

Note: all the statistics in this post were found on Marketing Sherpa.


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