Ever stop and think about how many options there are for us to connect in 2018? It’s quite astonishing. Between texts, instant messages, online forums and the wide array of social media platforms, we often find ourselves overloaded with so many options.
However, one communication method has been a top contender for over 40 years and continues strong in 2018. It is projected that 3.7 billion people will use email by the end of the year which accounts for nearly 54% of the global population. Compared to Facebook’s 1.94 billion monthly active users, you can see why email’s potential as a communication channel is so powerful.
For digital marketers, email is a lucrative asset in a marketing strategy as well. With a focus on re-engagement, data-driven decisions and serving customer’s needs over time, a well-executed email campaign drives results. Below are the top 4 reasons why email marketing still matters in 2018:
Tracking Consumer Behavior
Though tracking consumer behavior via many digital marketing channels is typically expected, the granularity provided by most email marketing platforms (ESPs) allows for savvy marketers to make data-driven decisions. By following consumers from their initial purchase to subsequent purchases thereafter, you can start to see patterns in your business.
- Is my average order per deal increasing over the customer’s lifetime?
- What are my most popular products right now?
- How do discounts affect my sales and profit margins?
- Which customers are my best?
- Is there a segment that’s not engaged? If so, how do we re-engage them?
And the list goes on. By asking the right questions and finding the right answers backed by data, marketers can utilize new insights to develop additional email campaigns and influence other marketing channels.
With a structured approach to A/B testing similar to the scientific method, marketers can hypothesize, test, iterate and quantify financial success through email campaigns. Sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be.
By starting small with simple subject line test or different send times, a business can unlock hidden revenue potential.
Imagine that you have a modest list of 2,000 email subscribers and you want to see how sending times affect purchasing behavior. You send one email at 8am and the other at 6pm and anxiously wait to see the results. Your hypothesis is that more people will open up the email and convert with the 8am email because it’ll be in the top of their inbox.
But maybe you’re only half right. More consumers may open the email in the morning but aren’t willing to purchase anything because they are at work. Throughout the day, they forget about the email causing conversion to suffer. Conversely, the 6pm email has a lower open rate but a higher overall sales number. Assuming this works in the future (which should be tested again), the business can benefit from this knowledge in a compounding way.
There are a number of things to test in email, but here are some easy ones to set-up while getting started:
- Subject line tests – length of subject lines, including offers and asking questions
- Send times – mornings vs. evenings or weekday vs. weekends
- Customer list segment testing – sending specific messages to best customers, people who have not made a purchase in a set amount of time, or those who recently purchased
- CTA copy tests – buy now, learn more, or something really creative (Why not?)
- Incentive tests – provide a % off, money back guarantee, free shipping, or a custom estimation for services with no charge
Regardless of which test you perform, the framework is the most important part. The goal should be to learn from the test to make better marketing decisions in the future and not to “test because testing is good.” Develop hypothesis’ based on your unique business products/services and customer base, and start putting them to the test!
Own the Channel – Own the Relationship
When looking at a holistic digital marketing strategy, you’ll notice common players– Google AdWords, social media, SEO, affiliate marketing, or even public relations. Though all can help drive your marketing efforts forward, they are all dependent on another person or platform.
Several years ago, a company could spin up and build a reputation rather quickly on Facebook, because the reach and engagement were so high. Seeking to capitalize on that traffic, and knowing they could monetize, Facebook has changed their news feed algorithm to benefit those who are willing to pay for engagement. Building a brand on Facebook is still possible, however, the cost of time and resources is consistently climbing.
Similarly, Google is constantly changing their algorithm to accommodate users who are searching for answers. Focusing on quality, their updates have penalized “black hat” SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing or backlink farming while promoting sites that provide fresh, relevant content that drives traffic.
When utilizing other companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) as a platform for growth, marketers find themselves at the mercy of the next update. These companies are much more concerned about their agenda and how they affect their users than how those ripple effects can cripple your traffic and business.
With email marketing, however, companies own the channel and the relationship. When a customer signs up to receive marketing communications via email, they provide the permission and willingness to engage with you. This opens a huge opportunity to grow a list of interested customers who can become repeat customers in the future. With complete ownership of that list, email marketers can segment purchasing data, develop custom campaigns, and continue to communicate with their customer base without fear of a looming update that hurts results.
Return on Investment
As the saying goes, it’s much tougher to get someone to buy once than it is to get them to buy again. And it’s true. People who have purchased a product or service tend to want to buy again if what they bought met their needs. Therefore, the problem is not that customers don’t want to buy again, it’s that your product and service is not top of mind.
To keep top of mind or re-engagement campaigns running on various channels can become expensive without a solid return on investment. Businesses can call their customers directly, but that is labor intensive. They can also post on social media, with the understanding that it’s tough to get into a news feed without paying for good placement.
Email, however, offers similar reach at a fraction of the cost. Businesses can send out a mass message to hundreds of thousands of people for just a few dollars with cheap and effective solutions like MailChimp. Opting for more sophisticated solutions like automated messages and advanced reporting will cost a bit more, considering the revenue potential it is well worth the expense. With the right mechanics in place, proper email marketing has a large multiplier on its return (up to 4,300%).
2018 and Still Going Strong
Whether your efforts in email marketing are just beginning or you have a strong program already built out, spending time honing this channel is well worth the resources. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle – an entire digital ecosystem needs to be strategically built out for email to truly shine.
At Valve+Meter Performance Marketing, we exist to serve our clients. By building a plan that focuses on financial performance and not on vanity metrics, we help clients achieve their growth goals through a strategic partnership. If you have been burned by non-transparent marketing agencies before or are simply looking for a way to transform your business into marketing excellence, we would love to talk.