Email Marketing Isn’t Dead, but How Can Marketers Keep it Alive?

With so many other ways to directly communicate with consumers (think social media, SMS, etc.), some brands have shied away or reduced their use of email. Marketing is expensive, and some brands may not be able to accurately measure email’s return on investment, thus lessening its value. Flooding a customer’s inbox with promotional emails, they might think, is outdated and annoying.

Well, think again. According to a new report from Yesmail, the “never active” segment of email databases fell below 69 percent for the first time despite an increase in inbox volume. In simple terms, this means that although subscribers were receiving more emails from brands, they were more receptive to them. In general, this year’s second quarter was a time of firsts for email marketing in several different aspects:

  • the highest number of emails per opener was recorded — consumers opened an average of four brand emails per week;
  • for the first time, more than a quarter of all email-driven purchases were completed on a mobile device; and
  • smartphones accounted for more mobile revenue and mobile purchases than tablets, another first.

Email marketers are clearly doing something right, but how can they keep subscribers engaged? In short, they should focus on smart and targeted email programs and supplement them with communications in other channels.

Go social
Email marketing doesn’t need to compete with other channels to get a customer’s attention. For example, social media and email can work together to achieve optimal results. Marketers can take advantage of this relationship by doing something as simple as including social share buttons in their emails. Incorporating live tweets or other social feeds into an email is another low-hanging fruit.

Both of these options encourage subscribers to share on the spot, and enable brands to reward their subscribers for doing so. If a customer shares an email promotion on a certain number of social platforms, for example, the retailer can grant him or her additional deals, savings, etc. Blending social media with email marketing creates customer incentive, builds loyalty and spreads brand awareness.

Get personal
With so many email subscribers engaged, personalization has never been more important. We hear this time and time again, but keeping email content relevant is key. While triggered email campaigns based on actions like abandoned carts and past purchases have proven successful for retailers, marketers can certainly take things up a notch.

Consider a customer’s location. Did his or her local professional sporting team just win a big game? Marketers can tie in a team’s success with an email promotion. Did the customer’s city just experience a huge snowstorm? Marketers can tie weather and other similar events into email copy as well. Keeping things light, fun and personalized will, in turn, keep subscribers engaged.

Improve ‘Inboxing’
Yes, customers are certainly engaged with email, but they’re still selective. If a customer stops opening or engaging with a brand’s emails, these emails may stop being delivered altogether. This is a waste of both time and money.

Marketers can improve inboxing through audience segmentation. This allows marketers to send messages frequently to their most engaged customers and pull back on overloading less-engaged audiences. Overall, striking a balance is key. Too few emails may make a brand appear apathetic, but too many emails may be overwhelming.

By blending email with social, improving personalization and increasing inboxing rates, marketers can keep their audiences engaged and acquire new subscribers at the same time. While email marketing may be at its peak, there’s always room for improvement and growth.

Ivy Shtereva is senior marketing manager at Yesmail, where she’s responsible for multichannel strategy and implementation across the email, database, web and direct marketing channels.