Email marketing in the time of social media

Email marketing is one of the most powerful weapons in the online marketer’s arsenal, provided it is used in a personalised and engaging manner that takes into account the ways that social networking has changed online interaction and communication over the past five years.

Ironically, the rise of social networking sites and social media have caused email volumes to soar rather than decline. What’s more, industry research shows that many internet users check their email before they do anything else when they wake up in the morning.

In a recent study release by the US Direct Marketing Association, it was shown that email delivers the best ROI against all the other online marketing options, including social media.

The fact is that email still plays a central role in most users’ online lives, but marketers have not yet caught up to how much its role has changed in the past five years. There are higher email volumes than ever before, which means that content needs to be highly targeted and relevant to break through the noise.

Email is still a channel that offers enormous reach and flexibility for marketers, but we do need to use it in a more engaging and sophisticated manner if we are to make the most of its potential in a socially networked world.

Companies need to align their social media and email campaigns more closely than they have to date. For example, they should make it simpler for their customers to share email promotions via Twitter and Facebook than most do at the moment.

They also need to tap into the psychology of the active online user who likes to be first with important news or interesting special offers.

This involves developing a deep understanding of your customers and what makes them tick.

What sort of information will a specific kind of customer welcome, act on and spread? You need to know the answer to that question.

Managing an email marketing database via a basic preference centre is no longer enough for companies that truly want to engage with their customers by email – they also need to hook email marketing into their customer relationship management and online analytics systems.

Analytics tools such as multi-variate testing are invaluable — they can allow marketers to test the results that they get from different email content and approaches against a range of user segments.

This will help them to tailor and optimise their email marketing for various audience segments so that they deliver relevant content that users will welcome and act on.

Online consumers have constantly evolving needs and expect relevant, even personalised, content from content sources such as email. To engage an online audience, online marketers must quickly identify which offers and content are relevant and compelling to their various audiences.



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