Email is Electric

Three times in May I spoke at industry events with folks who are preaching edgy things with mobile, social networking and rich media. Ideas that are way out there, very high tech and extremely whiz bang. Makes your heart thump. Being the email expert made me feel like the red-headed stepchild (and since I have red hair, I can say that with all impunity). Email is standard, and boring, and not at all the new kid on the block.

Bah, I say, bah humbug. I started out my talk at Digital Hollywood with a slide that showed a huge stack of money. This, I declared, is why email is anything but boring and dull. It earns a tremendous ROI and it’s a powerful opportunity for growth. It’s not some “future” thing that hasn’t been tested and reaches a potential audience in the tens or hundreds or thousands. Email is ubiquitous for both B2C and B2B, proven, and incredibly profitable.

Roy Young, publisher of MarketingProfs agreed. “I think of email as ELECTRICITY, the juice that makes all the other activities/channels possible,” he said.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure your email program gets the attention it deserves. Want to keep the channel healthy and its revenue contribution growing? Focus on subscriber experience. Make sure that most (if not all) of your messages are relevant and welcome by most (if not all) of your subscribers. Test behavioral triggered messages, make your transactional messages count, and offer content and format choices to every subscriber. Never assume that permission granted once means permission to email forever. Reconnect often with the only people who count – your subscribers! – to ensure your program is breaking through.

Definitely test social media and mobile. Use those strategies where they make sense for your customers and prospects. Is there a special event (e.g. a concert, trade show or sports match) or routine brand interaction (e.g. billboard, print ad, retail visit, catalog cover or even lunchtime) where your prospects will have their mobile phones? Develop a campaign that makes sense for your brand and let them text in – and sign up for text or email alerts in future. Use email to build a relationship that meets their needs and is flexible on delivery method.

Are connections important to your business model or your customers? Launch a blog and invite feedback. Allow readers to subscribe to your feed via email. Create a forum where customers and prospects can interact and help each other. Allow free flow of information and engage with participants as moderator, as well as subject matter expert. Use email to follow up on questions and feature forum topics (or even summaries of the threads) in your email newsletter.

It’s never boring to do successful marketing. In email, where most of the commercial messages we receive are incredibly uninteresting and uninspired, a little bit of focus and attention will ensure you continue to earn exciting results.

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