Commentary

Why E-mail Has Become A Mainstream Element Of The Media Mix

To understand why e-mail has become a more mainstream element of the media mix, it's important to understand why brand marketers have been turning to e-mail and how it fits within the overall interactive media mix. The fact is, the effectiveness of e-mail as a branding channel can surprise some people. While performance marketers know that the ROI of e-mail in the media mix has long been compelling, it's the combination of brand benefits and performance ROI that has the savviest marketers measuring their campaign's effects and making changes in real time.

In a study of 100,000 direct e-mails sent as part of individual campaigns on behalf of consumer brands, we found that e-mail marketing can lift brand awareness by as much as 58 percent or more. In one example, a credit card company, e-mail lifted intent to apply for that credit card by 66 percent or more. In these and other examples, performance ROI exceeded expectations as well. For example, Only Natural Pet Store recently announced that its "Year of the Dog" newsletter campaign resulted in a 660 percent increase in revenue over its previous e-mail average.

E-mail Solves Brand Marketers' Problems

A common criticism of performance networks is that they are "blind" for the buyer, and the media may not be premium enough for their brand affiliation. The opposite criticisms mount for premium branded media, as the prices have increased substantially while inventory has become scarcer. E-mail solves both problems for marketers who work with major brands, because consumer trust in the brand drives up open rates while the costs remain relatively low, especially considering how precisely e-mail can be targeted.

Factor in the fact that today's technology enables changing creative on the fly, the aforementioned targeting, and trigger events that drive more transactions in ways that no banner or rich media can, and e-mail provides a blend of branding and performance that no other sub-segment in our industry can. It's cost-effective inventory, targeted only to receptive users.

These are reasons why, increasingly, it's the major brand advertisers who are spending a larger ratio of their budgets on e-mail.

A Simple Question

We're all in the same business. We all toil in interactive marketing, one of the fastest-growing, coolest fields around. Within interactive marketing, some segments really stand out. But, even if you're reluctant to believe studies like the one above, ask yourself a few questions:

· Do you subscribe to any e-mail catalogues?

· Have you ever bought directly from one of these e-mails?

· Do you recall any banner ads you saw today?

· When was the last time you interacted with a rich media unit?

· Have you ever used a search engine after receiving an e-mail?

· Have you ever bought directly from a banner?

· Have you ever bought directly from a search result?

E-mail has almost certainly been scrutinized more than any other sub-segment within our industry. Statutory regulations such as CAN-SPAM have made e-mail work better for marketers in part because it has made it more trustworthy for consumers by separating the wheat from the chaff among e-mail providers.

The "e-mail champion" who sit at the table while media plans are developed can help the media planner understand the specifics of the channel, the subtleties of how to develop high-response creative, all privacy and compliance issues, and most importantly, the psyche and profile of the e-mail consumer--which is a very distinct, and very active, online segment. This champion can help the buyer understand which channels, sources and affiliates are driving the best customers from the standpoint of both e-mail marketing and re-marketing.

The e-mail champion understands the value of database marketing and encourages media planners to look at their media buy from the perspective of building a valuable, long-term data asset. While banner ads and rich media are "push" sub-segments, and its advocates differentiate search as a "pull" sub-segment, well-designed and properly-executed e-mail can be both--and drive better, broader results that will ultimately make your clients happy with your results.