Social media is quickly reaching widespread adoption as a tool for marketers to showcase their brands and connect with their customers more effectively. In their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogging efforts, marketers shouldn't lose sight of social media's medium of choice: email. Email remains the most effective way for marketers to reach their customers, and marketers who want stronger relationships with their target audience and increased ROI should keep email in the mix.
Customers continue to cite email as their preferred outlet for receiving product information and announcements. According to a 2011 holiday-shopping survey highlighted in a recent TechCrunch article, 62% of respondents said email was the most useful way to receive promotions, while only 2.5% cited Facebook as their preferred channel. This doesn't mean marketers should focus solely on email—but it does mean they need to optimize their email strategies within the context of their social media efforts.
Constant Contact examined customer data from June 2010 to August 2011 and found that marketers who used multiple media experienced faster list growth and a clickthrough rate nearly 60% higher.
To maximize your reach, your email, social media, direct mail, event, PR and mobile strategies should intersect and support your business goals and objectives.
Maximizing Email's Reach
Email is the backbone of marketing. The key is to optimize your email marketing and take advantage of new technologies to ensure you get the most out of your investment.
Consider this success story. Microsoft recently deployed e a global trigger-based email program that engages Microsoft Dynamics customers at each stage of the customer lifecycle. The campaign targets customers' individual preferences and centralizes digital communications in multiple languages. Microsoft aligned its email program with its social media efforts, and the results are impressive. To date, 161,000 emails have been sent, yielding an 83% delivery rate, a 30% open rate, and a 20% clickthrough rate.
In addition to maximizing communication through multiple channels, let's explore three proven email techniques that should be part of any marketer's repertoire: relevancy of emails, email automation and an increased focus on mobile platforms.
With all of the advertising and marketing messages being thrown their way, consumers are quick to abandon email communications that aren't tailored to them.
To maximize relevancy within key audiences, segment your readers to deliver targeted content. You can segment them by company, products used, stage in purchasing cycle, specified areas of interest, or any other characteristic you are tracking. If you aren't already collecting important information about your customers, start now. The longer you wait, the less engaged your readers will become.
2. Email Automation
Marketers can also increase relevancy by personalizing email, providing dynamic content and tracking metrics to optimize customer touch points and get maximum ROI.
Triggered communications deliver specific information about a service, membership or account status, and can help customers progress through a process or toward a goal, such as a purchase. Successful email automation can be daunting for marketers because it requires extensive planning, thought and insight. Marketers need to think through each phase of the customer relationship and the variations in communications needed by each customer.
The good news is that nearly all email platforms offer fully integrated CRM systems, and it is simpler than ever before for the everyday marketer to implement automated and trigger-based nurture email programs.
3. Focus on Mobile
Customers access email on a wider variety of devices than ever before. Research shows that email is the number-one activity people engage in on both smartphones and tablets. Marketers must consider their audience and goals to determine how to optimize email for their mobilized audience. For example, a B2B message is more likely to be consumed on smartphones, while a B2C message is more likely to be consumed on a PC or tablet.
It's important to test different email templates to see how each performs across devices and audiences. For example, a short survey to customers about how they use email can deliver valuable insights that can be immediately applied to optimize any email program.
Amber Whiteman leads the digital communications team for digital marketing agency Metia.