Is there still a place for email marketing in 2013?

Is there still a place for email marketing in 2013?
Amy Edwards is an experienced blogger, content strategist and SEO. She's currently working as an SEO Manager for digital jobs board Bubble Jobs.

By Amy@BubbleJobs

Five years ago, email marketing was all the rage. After all, things like Facebook and Twitter were still fairly new platforms and no one had quite grasped their potential for marketing a brand and interacting with customers – so direct marketing techniques like email and SMS were all businesses really had to go after.

Fast forward to 2013 and that’s all changed. These days there’s no getting away from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and even more niche platforms like Pinterest and Instagram when it comes to online marketing, and, in most instances, social media marketing has long overtaken more traditional direct marketing methods as the technique of choice for many digital brands.

Of course, that’s not to say email marketing has died a death. There are still brands out there (Bubble included) that still view email marketing as a viable method for increasing brand awareness and promoting key products or services (or in our case, vacancies) and always ensure it’s a key feature of their marketing strategy…  but in all honesty, is it really worth it?

It was good while it lasted but has the time now come to let go of email marketing once and for all and focus all our energies on 140 character tweets and targeted Facebook campaigns?

Maybe… but in my opinion, to use an old phrase “there’s life in the old dog yet”. As I’ve discussed in a previous blog, email marketing and social media marketing, while both involved in promoting a brand and/or spreading a message, actually have very different purposes.

While Twitter and Facebook are great for engaging with an active audience in real-time, there’s no real ‘buy-in’ – followers don’t necessarily need to be previous or potential customers so they’re much more diluted in terms of buying power or potential.

When it comes to email marketing, that ‘buy-in’ that social media lacks does exist – respondents are receiving the email because they’ve either signed up for it or have previously purchased something from your brand. This means that while email marketing lacks that instant interaction and feedback that social media is famous for, it does have the ability to deliver your message to a much more concentrated audience, in the sense that they’re much more likely to have the power and intent to buy your product or use your service.

Okay, so we’ve established that, in theory, there’s still a place for email marketing in 2013 but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or the right technique for everyone – in fact, I think, and feel free to disagree, that email marketing is actually much more challenging than social media marketing when it comes to getting it right.

Let me explain – with email marketing you’re delivering a message directly to a respondent’s email address so, regardless of whether it goes into their inbox or junk folder, they’re going to physically see it and have to acknowledge it but that’s not necessarily always the case with social media. With Twitter and Facebook, depending on who’s online and how many other brands/individuals they follow, you’re only ever reaching a limited number or your potential audience with a particular tweet or post – which means there’s not so much pressure to get it perfect every time.

Like I said before, whether it’s just the subject line or the entire body of the email, you know your email is going to be seen in some way by that concentrated audience so it’s important to get it right – too spammy and you risk alienating potential and past customers and, worst still, being hit by a major fine for breaking advertising violations, but make it too soft and you risk failing to cause any reaction or drive any action at all. So what do you do?

First up, if you’re really serious about delivering the best service to your customers, it’s worth considering employing a professional email marketing agency. Although they can be expensive, companies like Alchemy Worx know their stuff and will manage all aspects of the email marketing process, from email creation to click through rates and final conversion rates.

It’s definitely something to consider because even though it might be an initial expense, it can massively pay off in the long run, particularly as your business and potential customer base grows!

If you can’t afford a professional company, you need to get clued up on email marketing best practice and implementation – and learn all about advertising standards and the kind of fines you’ll face if you’re found to be spamming individuals.

Next, develop a professional looking template that fits in with brand values and make sure each email you send is unique – customers don’t want to be hit with the same old news and offers again and again. Make sure you know what you want to achieve from each campaign and make sure you set realistic targets in terms of click-through rate and conversion.

Remember, you’re always going to get people unsubscribing – but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing a bad job. People’s circumstances change on a weekly and even daily basis so don’t panic or take it personally if you lose a few subscribers each time.

Last but not least, to be successful in email marketing in 2013 you need to work hard to effectively integrate your social media marketing campaign with your email marketing campaign and vice versa – remember,  customers are savvy on lots of different platforms these days so you need to make sure you’re using all the tricks in the marketing book to target and engage with them effectively and successfully.

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