Show Email's Impact By The Magic

A few weeks ago Loren McDonald contributed an article here titled “Show Email’s Impact by the Numbers.” He prefaced his piece by saying that “No, this isn't another ‘email isn't dead’ column… but you may have to prove it to everybody.” The article went on to list of a series of stats that prove the power of the channel -- from its outstanding ROI, to its higher click-through rates compared to other modes of online advertising, to the consistent growth in the number of email accounts opened by people across the globe.

Loren went on to emphasize that the statistics are only an “opening salvo when building a case for email” and that marketers have to further explain not just why, but how email can drive results for their organizations by doing things like “linking email’s value to reducing calls to your call center, increased traffic to stores, direct revenue, greater feature adoption, and less customer churn.”



As powerful as the numbers and business impacts Loren listed truly are, I couldn’t help but feeling that all those “whys” and “hows” still left me (and, more importan, brand marketing executives) yearning for more. Sure, reducing call center calls and driving traffic to stores are great, but do they give email more sex appeal? Does shining the light on them capture hearts and minds? Where’s the fun factor?

I had the privilege of moderating a panel at last week’s DMA annual conference and expo titled “Ripped from the Headlines: Brands Debate the Year’s Hottest Topics” featuring senior marketers from Capital One, Thrillist, Freshpair, and a former Expedia executive. The last question I asked the panel to address was “Is email dead – again?”

While the speakers were unanimous in saying that email is far from dead, they were also all in agreement that the channel needs a makeover. These executives work on the front lines of email marketing -- they know the numbers inside and out and use email to drive big bucks for their organizations -- but still, they want more. The prevailing viewpoint was that email is stale -- that it’s been done the same way for the last decade or longer, and can use an update. And as much as I am a champion for email marketing, I couldn’t agree with them more. 

Instead of making the case for email by the numbers, I say, let’s make the case for email by the magic. Instead of competing against “hotter” media like video, mobile, and social, let’s co-opt them. Here are three questions you can ask your boss today to remove that blank stare and get the green light to go further with your email program:

  • “Did you know that we could add video to our emails? Many ISPs now support video-streaming capabilities, and there are simple tools available to automatically show the right video format depending on what devices and browsers our customers are using. And that’s not all -- we can even show different video content based on when and where our customers are when they open the email. Pretty cool, right?”
  • “Did you ever consider that email could be the centerpiece of our mobile marketing strategy? We can tailor our emails not just to fit into smaller screens, but into the daily routines of our constantly on-the-go, smartphone-tethered customers. We can insert live maps into our emails directing people to our closest stores. We can use email to promote mobile app downloads and repeat usage.  The possibilities of ‘always-on’ email are endless.”
  • “Did you know that we could include testimonials from our customers’ own friends and family members in email?  We can show up-to-the-minute social posts drawn from each customer’s own social graph hyping up our brand -- instead of generic reviews written by strangers. And we can push this personalized social media content to a list of opt-in recipients, instead of waiting and praying for them to do a search for our brand when they are using social networking sites (which, let’s be honest, they probably aren’t going to do).”

ROI, open rates, click-through rates, deliverability, churn, traffic -- these are metrics and words for us email geeks to worry about. When it comes to speaking to “outsiders,” take off your high school mathletes team hat and put on your Don Draper one. Wow the world with all of the cool things that email can do that they never knew was possible. 


2 comments about "Show Email's Impact By The Magic".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, October 22, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.

    I just went to the author's Website and subscribed to receive an email which allegedly demonstrated these features. As far as I can see, none of them worked - no movies, dynamic images, social content. And the top link is as follows, suggesting a less then total confidence that they would: "Email not looking beautiful? View it in your browser"

  2. John Caldwell from, October 23, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.

    I signed up for the demo and it worked just fine for me. You can't swing a cat these days without seeing a "View in your browser" link at the top of most emails in case the recipient's email client doesn't support images; all the cool kids are doing it....

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