The following is a guest post from Amy Garland, marketing manager at Blue Sky Factory .
Social media is on the minds of marketers everywhere. With its increasing popularity, marketers are thinking, “We need to be on Twitter ! Let’s create a Facebook fan page ! Crank out the viral videos! ” Unfortunately, this often has no strategy behind it , and organizations are flying blind on the social web . While social media isn’t “killing” email like some people seem to think, it is causing email marketing to be ignored.
Email marketing is the digital glue that holds the social web together . It’s the currency of all accounts, the only common denominator of all social networking sites. You can’t sign up for an account on a social media site without an email address, and each one has an email component (e.g. you receive Facebook friend and LinkedIn connection requests through email). U nfortunately, many marketers are forgetting about email marketing as a key component to online marketing and new media.
So why should you, as a marketer, care about email? I’ll let the following numbers speak for themselves.
- Email marketing returned $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009, and is expected to return $42.08 for every dollar spent on it in 2010. (Direct Marketing Association)
- 89% of retailers cited email is the most mentioned successful tactic overall. ( Forrester Research and Shop.org ’s Retailing Online 2009: Marketing Report )
- 67% of subscribers say they've purchased products offline as a direct result of receiving an email from a retail company. ( Epsilon – 2009 Report )
Th e se are some convincing numbers, but what exactly is it about email marketing that provides such a high ROI and positive response from subscribers?
It’s permission-based. Well, it should be permission-based. ( On a recent webinar , I heard Mike Volpe , vice president of marketing for HubSpot , say email marketing is like the phone; it can be used for good or evil. This statement is s ad, but often true.) If you grow your list organically and subscribers have given you explicit consent to communicate with them via email , then you have an audience that is asking for information from you . (Sounds like a little something called inbound marketing, huh?) If your subscribers have asked to receive your emails, then they’re much more likely to open, click -through, and share your emails, ultimately resulting in a higher ROI.
It’s subscriber-driven. One of the best things about email marketing is that your subscribers tell you what they want from you, how often the y want it, and in what form (e.g . newsletter, product promotions, or upcoming webinar notifications). This information can be collected at the opt-in, through subscriber preferences, or with a periodic survey sent to your email recipients. By being able to choose how they receive your information, subscriber s are more likely to engage with your emails . Engagement in itself gives feedback with each send. By using your email platform’s reporting tools, you know how your campaign performs by looking at metrics including opens, click-throughs, conversions , and even unsubscribe rates .
It’s easy. Yes, folks, email marketing is easy. They key to email marketing is sending timely, targeted, valuable emails to subscribers who have asked for them. It’s not difficult to provide your audience with relevant emails based on their preferences, past purchases, activity, etc. Segmenting your database and taking a few extra steps to do this will drive more subscriber engagement and more purchases.
Now don’t get the wrong idea here. I’m not saying you should solely focus on email and ignore social media. These two channels can and should be used together, not only with tools like Share with Your Network (SWYN), but also by repurposing the content, cross-promoting the channels, and cross-pollinating your audience. More on this in a future blog post, but for now, I’ll leave the email and social media topic with these statistics:
- 75% of daily social media users said email is the best way for companies to communicate with them, compared to 65% of all email users. ( MarketingSherpa - 2010)
- 49% of Twitter users said they made an online purchase because of an email, compared to 33% of all email users. ( MarketingSherpa - 2010)
Email and social media are like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, milk and cookies , the list goes on. They are simply better together .
Take a step back and think about your online marketing strategy and campaigns. Are you using email marketing to its full potential? If not, how can you better use this channel to engage your audience?
Amy Garland is the marketing manager at Blue Sky Factory , a Baltimore-based email service provider. Follow Amy on Twitter: @amygarland .
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