Why email marketing is like a pair of old jeans

I’m lucky enough to be part of a team that cov­ers a mul­ti­tude of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing dis­ci­plines. We have spe­cial­ists in SEO, paid search, social adver­tis­ing, email and more. I’m seen as the email guy, and occa­sion­al­ly, in the light of new dig­i­tal chan­nels, wear­ing that label feels like wear­ing a pair of old jeans.

But some­times I am remind­ed that old­er can be bet­ter. Let’s take, for instance, a recent cam­paign I ran that pro­mot­ed a webi­nar. In an orches­trat­ed cam­paign I pit­ted some of the new kids on the block against our old friend email. The result? Email deliv­ered the high­est num­ber of reg­is­tra­tions at the low­est cost per reg­is­tra­tion by a coun­try mile.

And, despite tar­get­ing con­tacts already on our data­base, email also con­tributed the high­est num­ber of new con­tacts to the data­base. Think about that for a moment: Send­ing an email to our own data­base gen­er­at­ed more new names than invest­ment in dis­play adver­tis­ing, con­tent syn­di­ca­tion, and paid social combined.

But I’m not knock­ing the oth­er chan­nels. There could be a mil­lion dif­fer­ent rea­sons why email per­formed bet­ter on this occa­sion, and many dif­fer­ent KPIs that weren’t con­sid­ered that the oth­er chan­nels may have scored high­ly on. Hors­es for cours­es as I always say. But it does add strength to the ‘email is not dead’ argument.

So if email isn’t dead, what is it that keeps it rel­e­vant in the face of all the whip­per-snap­pers keen­ly bit­ing at its ankles? Let’s con­sid­er a few things:

Whilst we have become accus­tomed to the nev­er-end­ing flow of infor­ma­tion in our Twit­ter feeds, on our Face­book news feeds, and the infi­nite scroll of media web­sites, there is some­thing to be said for a mes­sage that is deliv­ered to a des­ig­nat­ed per­son­al space (your inbox) and tar­get­ed direct­ly at you. Unless I take action the email won’t go away — it demands my atten­tion. My Twit­ter feed, on the oth­er hand, will fill up with new infor­ma­tion 24/7 whether I’m there or not.

There are few things in mar­ket­ing more pow­er­ful than reach­ing some­one at the per­fect moment – the sweet spot in time – when they are in the right mind­set to take action. Deliv­er­ing a rel­e­vant mes­sage at this point is in many ways the holy grail of direct mar­ket­ing. Mod­ern plat­forms, com­bined with cus­tomer data, make this pos­si­ble at scale.

When the per­fect­ly-timed mes­sage does arrive, it needs to be rel­e­vant. Dynam­ic con­tent allows mar­keters to define areas of an email mes­sage and vary the con­tent that is dis­played, depen­dent on the recip­i­ent. Add the pos­si­bil­i­ty of feed­ing-in exter­nal data and sud­den­ly each email can feel like a one-off per­son­al­ized mes­sage unique­ly tai­lored for that recip­i­ent. Pow­er­ful stuff.

Email remar­ket­ing allows the savvy retail­ers out there to reach shop­ping cart aban­don­ers with a ‘last chance’ email invit­ing them back to com­plete their pur­chase– often with a dis­count includ­ed. The con­nec­tion between your email mar­ket­ing and ecom­merce plat­forms is the secret here.

These are just a few exam­ples, and did you notice a com­mon trait? That’s right, data. So email might not have grabbed the head­lines in recent years, but it cer­tain­ly didn’t rest on its lau­rels. And while every­one was talk­ing about new dig­i­tal chan­nels and big data, email was lis­ten­ing intent­ly and fig­ur­ing out how to build its mus­cles with this new form of protein.

As new media emerged the smart mar­keters real­ized there was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to part­ner with, and not fight against, the up and com­ing heroes. Enter the era of cam­paign orches­tra­tion. Now, rather than hav­ing dig­i­tal mar­keters work in siloes, smarter brands are real­iz­ing the poten­tial of har­ness­ing the pow­er of each dig­i­tal chan­nel in a close­ly coor­di­nat­ed cam­paign, built on a foun­da­tion of data.

So per­haps slip­ping on the old jeans is not so bad after all. Since den­im became main­stream decades ago it has always remained fash­ion­able. It is only the cut, the fit, and the clothes worn with it that have changed how it is per­ceived. If email is jeans, then big data is the belt that holds them up, and new dig­i­tal chan­nels are the shoes, shirts and tops that make the out­fit a success.

Is your mar­ket­ing at the cut­ting edge, or is it time you updat­ed your wardrobe? You can learn more in this free down­load ‘Adobe Cam­paign Guide to Email Mar­ket­ing: The Next Fron­tier’.