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Email has an ability many channels don't: creating valuable, personal touches—at scale.

David Newman

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“A bad email reputation is like a hangover–hard to get rid of and it makes everything else hurt.”

Chris Marriott

Decoding Modern Marketing

9. PERMISSION EMAIL

Core to the operations of these marketing automation platforms is email.

PERMISSION EMAIL, DESPITE THE SPAM PLAGUE THAT NEVER SEEMS TO GO AWAY, HAS REMAINED MARKETING’S UNSUNG HERO THROUGH THICK AND THIN.

Even with new ways to communicate being introduced every day, consumers of all stripes just seem to prefer email. Now, with mobile taking over so much of our screen time, email even seems to be enjoying a renaissance with 91% of consumers checking their email, at least once a day, on their smartphone (ExactTarget study) and according to a MarketingSherpa study, 72% of consumers say they prefer companies to use email; snail mail comes in as a distant second with 48%.

Email has always been the perfect medium for brands; instantaneous, two-way, and dirt cheap. Today, with marketing automation software going mainstream, it is being recognized again for the gift to brands that it is, the opportunity of email is to have a direct channel to your customers and prospects at little to no cost. With every email you can see how your recipient responds and track that information to help you make better emails in the future. With a big email database of the right people, who needs to pay for advertising? Well, that was the promise of email. The problem has been, I think, that brands, just like people, don’t value things that they don’t pay for. So since email has always been so cheap, brands have thought nothing of spamming their own customers and prospects. If you only need a 1% response to give you a decent ROI, who cares if 99% of recipients don’t respond? It’s only when large percentages of a database stop opening emails, sick of all the junk mail, that people sit up and take notice, usually too late. Too many emails, too little content value for the consumer, and an orientation towards the needs of the business (we need to sell more trucks this month!) versus the needs of the consumer, result in an injured, and sometimes lifeless, golden goose.

Many brands successfully get people to give them their email address. It’s actually a science in and of itself. It may be in exchange for content, which is how many marketing automation platforms are set up, or it may be as part of on-boarding a new customer. But instead of valuing this remarkable liberty to communicate with their consumers, many companies regard it as a license to bombard them with sales messages. They forget why these consumers signed up in the first place, which was usually in anticipation of receiving content which they would find valuable. Ten years ago my agency began work to develop new email strategies built around delivering highly relevant content designed for target segments.

This work for ibm, ups, intercontinental hotels and others won many breakthrough awards, but more importantly confirmed that

THE MORE THE INDIVIDUAL RECIPIENT’S NEEDS AND INTERESTS ARE PRIORITIZED, THE BETTER RESULTS YOU’LL GET.

Back then we didn’t have the marketing automation and CRM tools we have today. We thought we were doing well to have developed a system that targeted half a dozen segments. Today’s software can treat every single consumer as a segment and sends them targeted content at the right time. This results in 29% higher open rates and 41% higher click through rates according to an Experian study.

Email is a very mature marketing channel with numerous vendors and platforms. This makes getting a sophisticated program up and running faster and easier than ever before. The challenge for brands is to first have the right strategies and planning in place to take advantage of the enormous potential of this channel.