Email IS sexy, and I can prove it. My argument turns on the definition of "sexy," which, in an advertising and business context, calls to mind attributes such as "enticing, enriching, versatile, artful" and so on. I hope the following descriptions will get your heart pounding just a little faster when you next think about email.
Email is intimate. Many forms of advertising are impersonal by default -- you really can't personalize a billboard, print ad or a commercial. Email, however, is very personal, as (a), it arrives in the recipient's private, password-protected inbox, and (b), almost any message can be customized with the recipient's name, account information, shopping history, preferences, lifecycle-related messaging, and a host of other variables. As much unique information as you can store about your list members, you can drop into your emails one by one, creating a one-on-one experience of your brand and message.
Email is a cheap date. Email is the best marketing value around -- you can get great results for a small spend, relative to other channels. While only taking up 10% of the average media budget, email generates 21.6% of total revenue from campaigns. (Direct Marketing Association, "The Integrated Marketing Media Mix," 2008.)
Email keeps on performing. Email has been proven to give a helpful lift to brand perceptions and sales in other channels, which means its impact goes far beyond the immediate clicks and conversions it generates every day. Fifty percent of consumers surveyed say they're more likely to buy products from companies who send them email, whether their purchases are online or at a place of business. (Epsilon Interactive, "Beyond the Click: The Indirect Value of Email.")
Is your pulse starting to quicken yet?
Email is expressive. It beats me how anyone can think email is dull, when it provides a canvas to convey every emotion known to man and woman. Sequester your writer and designer and watch them come up with emails that are cheeky, cheerful, deadpan, hilarious, animated, or serious, as the occasion demands.
Email has a thousand charms. Email is the Swiss Army Knife of marketing: a tremendous tool for a wide variety of applications. Branding, sales (including upsell, cross-sell, resell), customer service (you to them), customer feedback (them to you), advocacy, news, site traffic building -- email does it all. It even does the housekeeping; it's ideal for transactional messaging.
Email brings home the bacon. Admit it -- we all love a good provider. The Direct Marketing Association pronounced last year that email delivered an ROI of $45.06 for every dollar spent on it. In another study, from Marketing Sherpa with Con Agra Foods, consumers who subscribed to email newsletters generated 34.25% more product sales.
Email is a movie star. Email design comes in many forms: text only, full-on graphics -- and, with the advent of Goodmail's CertifiedVideo, email has Lights! Camera! Action! Meaning, now you can send emails that will play video right within the inbox.
Be still, my beating heart.
Email is also sexy under the hood. The strategy, mechanics, and analytics involved in email program planning, delivery and evaluation are complex enough to make any left-brained person feel dizzy with delight. If you are the type that likes to slip between the spreadsheets and play with pivot tables and macros, email is your perfect companion.
In summary, if you don't think email is sexy, fun, versatile and rewarding, you simply aren't doing it right. Start feeding your email team chocolate and enjoy the response.