n April, I wrote an article titled "Three Ways Email Marketing is Like a Newborn Baby." Three weeks before that article was published, my wife and I had our first baby. Two weeks ago our little baby girl turned six months old. I thought it was only appropriate to write a follow-up. Here's how email marketing is like a six-month-old baby:
While our major focus (and primary object of devotion) is, of course, email, it always pays to seek creative inspiration in other forms of design and marketing. With this idea in mind, we took to the streets (and to the nets) in search of fresh thinking. Here's what we found:
Almost everything I read about email marketing here in MediaPost and the other trades, as well as all the case studies and panel discussions at the email conferences, and also the white papers penned by the email marketing companies, are about the same thing: how to make email easier, and improve its ROI. But we've got it all wrong. In order to be more successful, we actually have to decrease the ROI of email.
How is email marketing like Madonna? Both are headliners, with staying power and strong track records. Both make millions and reinvent themselves constantly to adapt to changing tastes. But they also have to compete for the spotlight with brash newcomers. Lady Gaga borrows from Madonna's repertoire. Similarly, social media, "apps" and mobile marketing are the shiny new toys that make email marketing look stodgy and "so Web 1.0." We have to find and communicate email's inner Lady Gaga -- the eye-popping, sexy qualities that keep email marketing a robust headliner year after year.
If you live near this furniture retailer, the catalog probably seems as common as the phone book -- and at 374 pages, it's nearly as thick in some towns. Its 2011 catalog dropped (thunk!) into your mailbox last month. Customers may have known it was coming long before it got to them, because the catalog drop this year was surrounded by supporting media in multiple channels. Here's the scoop on this successful example of multichannel marketing, and the key factors that made it a success.
Multichannel marketing communications have multiple benefits, including a broader audience reach, multiple touch points to reach customers and greater amplification of your message. But the dangerous duo of spam and viruses that have eroded consumer trust in email marketing have now spread to mobile and social channels, as hackers and spammers become smarter about launching attacks on these channels. Companies must set themselves apart from fraudsters in order to build a relationship of customer trust across all channels.
Over the course of the years, I have penned a lot of content about the email space. In doing so, I have received both positive and negative comments about the context or the stories shared. The feedback provided seems to be on anything from my interpretation of a best practice all the way to the very personal -- like my parenting approach or my choice of careers; I suppose that's what I get for wrapping my stories around real life. We are nothing if we are not a passionate group of marketers -- a dysfunctional family, if you will.
Email, Facebook, and Twitter each provide marketers with the ability to compile a database full of customers and prospects. This ability to gather consumers into a visible list certainly looks like the familiar paradigm of database marketing. And given the fact these consumers are now part of "our databases" it seems logical that these would meet the criterion for retention marketing. After all, they are in our databases, so the job of acquisition is done, right? No. Because of research that looks at the differences in how consumers want to engage with brands through these three channels, I believe this …
The 2010 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season includes a lot of predictions based on activity in previous years, but those predictions are all relatively safe. I want to go out on a bit more of a limb with a few additional predictions. Here are my top five:
While all the trends suggest there is a shift in the how consumers triage their email on a personal and professional level, email marketers still have the challenge of creating instances, albeit brief, that build value in the brand and buying experience. While we'll forever have challenges with the right message and the right context to send it, we are now facing more pressure focused on the inbox itself, the types of messages consumers will consume regularly and the impact on direct response that drives many of our channel goals.