Sometimes, in our drive to be current and “cutting edge” with our marketing efforts, we can cut out activities that are still effective. Unfortunately, a number of businesses and organizations have thrown out their email activities with the marketing bathwater.
Sure, the idea of email marketing may conjure up some negative thoughts about things like spam. And we know that people have plenty of tools and technology at their disposal to filter or block unwanted email messages. But it’s key to remember that people aren’t blocking these messages just because they’re email. They’re blocking them because they are unwanted.
Email by itself isn’t bad. Irrelevant and poorly done email is what people can’t stand. It’s just like direct mail. Junk mail is “junk” because it has no value to the people receiving it. It’s an annoyance. That’s why so much of it ends up in the trash (or, hopefully, the recycle bin). A lot of television commercials are the same way—they just aren’t relevant to the audience that is watching. And they get muted. The problem isn’t with the method—it’s with the message.
So, is email still valid? In the Econcultancy research study, “How We Shop in 2010: Habits and Motivations of Consumers”, 42% of the consumers surveyed said the best way for them to receive ads for sales and specials was via email. That is much too large a chunk of your potential customers to ignore. But how does email stack up against the new kids on the social media block? In 2010 U.S. Internet users engage with an average of 11.8 brands via Email, compared to 9.4 brands via Facebook and 7.9 brands via Twitter. And on top of that, 56% of U.S. Internet users interact with brands only via marketing emails, compared to 1.3% who interact only via Twitter and 0.7% by Facebook. Social media may be gaining ground, but email isn’t dead, yet. And, of course, using email doesn’t preclude using Facebook or twitter, or other social media platforms. In fact, it can be an effective way to drive customers and prospects to those things.
Email is like any other marketing tool. Use it properly and you can get great results. Use it improperly and you’ll alienate the very people you’re trying to reach. Give people what they want. Don’t inundate them with unwanted messages. Always make sure that they’ve opted in to your messages—and that they can opt out at any time. Keep your messages short and drive readers to your website for additional content. Don’t give up on email. It’s a powerful tool. But remember, you need to use it as an invitation—not a sledgehammer!
How are you using your emails to build relationships with your clients?