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Where Marketers Go to Grow

August 4, 2011 // 9:00 AM

Is Email Marketing Dead?

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In 2009, the Wall Street Journal ran an article called " Why Email No Longer Rules ," which led to extensive discussions about whether email had seen its last, best day. One could easily understand the argument.

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When social media first pummeled its way onto the scene, three things stood out:

  1. It was immediate.
  2. It enabled companies to react at the individual level.
  3. It had scale.

The first two points were what really trounced email initially. From a marketing standpoint , customers grew accustomed not only to getting responses the moment they most needed them but also to receiving messages that reflected them personally.

But to be successful, emails needed to evolve.

Over the last couple of years, companies have started connecting emails to website analytics and CRM systems to automate communication based on certain triggers. We call this concept marketing automation. When done right, marketing automation has the potential to make email even more personal and precise than social media. 

The Skinny on Email Marketing Automation

We stumbled upon some great data in a post from Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports on how this automation has worked:

  • Bank of America  reports  that event-based trigger emails are 250% more effective than broadcast promotional emails.
  • People who purchase after getting cart abandonment emails  spend  55% more than those who buy straightaway.
  • “Happy Birthday” emails from Epson  produce  840% more revenue per email than the overall email program.
  • S&S Worldwide  drove  40% of email revenue through trigger/transactional emails that account for just 4% of email volume.
  • One study by Experian Cheetah mail  found  abandoned cart emails getting 20 times the transaction rates and revenue of standard email campaigns.

Cart abandonment emails like the free cup of coffee offer Starbucks sends customers on their birthday are creative and effective, but what about other stages of the customer cycle?  

Bringing Email Marketing Automation to the Next Level

Email That Reflects Behavior On and Off the Site:  The lines between web, social media, mobile, and other channels have all but evaporated from a user perspective. And yet, there still remains a gap between email and social media . Bridging it will take more than just placing social sharing buttons in emails. Take handmade crafts marketplace Etsy, for example. Many customers sing the brand’s praises on their social networks. Every time they tweet about it, they’re driving traffic to Etsy’s marketplace. Wouldn’t it be great if Etsy responded automatically with a thank you or a special offer targeted for its best social media advocates?

Email That Prevents Churn:   Currently, email automation has pretty much exclusively rotated around the sale. With the exception of the birthday email, existing customer communications tend to fall back on the newsletter or mass email. If a customer of a software company, for example, hasn’t been using the service they paid for, someone should check in on them. Maybe the customer forgot their password. Maybe they’re dissatisfied with the service. Maybe the customer is thinking about bailing. By automating a check-in email for paying customers who have not logged-in in months, companies could catch customers on the brink of churning.

Email That is Connected to Your Help Desk:   Help desks are critical to customers. If a customer is having trouble with your site, the communications that spawn from that experience are incredibly important. Do you email a customer when they first open a support ticket? If that ticket hasn’t been closed within a reasonable amount of time, are you responding with tailored communication and perhaps a discount for good measure?

The takeaway here is not that you need more emails, but that you need better ones. In the same way that email automation is evolving to reflect behavior and the customer’s journey to your product or service, it should also evolve to prevent over -communication.

What other automation communication would be useful? What emails have impressed you?

Topics: Inbound Marketing Email Marketing Social Media Lead Generation Content Marketing

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