Email is one of the more established uses of the Internet, and is still the most popular use of the Internet today. A recent survey by Facebook also showed that the majority of users still check their email first, and then Facebook.
Email marketing has also, as a result, been around for a while now, but over the last few years, as customers grew tired of emails blasted at them from people they never asked for, such advertising was seen as nothing but spam, an annoyance which, rather than helping a brand, would be damaging to its image.
Things are, however, starting to change. According to Abhijit Saxena, CEO, NetCore, a digital marketing firm that works extensively in email marketing, their customer base had grown by 80 per cent in 2010, and they were sending 400 per cent more mails than the previous year.
The company uses only opt in email databases and is using email for not just marketing, but reputation management, community management and other similar functions. Saxena said, “When a publisher reaches out to their opted in base, they create meaningful interactions. Instead of just blasting information across, using email, you can create a fully interactive experience, which can reach a person in a space where he is more comfortable than the open Internet. This has led to a huge growth in the number of people signed on with our service.”
One of the advantages of email marketing is that the process is very simple – the technology is well understood, and the marketer needs to only focus on the creatives. Social networks and display ads are also well understood, but require greater involvement and are more complicated. Of course, all these come together to form a comprehensive strategy, and none of the different approaches can be safely ignored.
Email completes the circle of marketing. To this effect, Amitabh Saran, CEO, BuzzinTown.com, said, “We have been using email marketing effectively for user acquisition, communication in the form of newsletters, deals. We believe in data-mining, directing right deals and ads to people.”
One of the key things holding back email marketing at this stage has been the lack of innovation. However, according to Saxena, a lot more creativity and interactivity was being pushed, and they expected to see this reflected in the coming months. He said, “We’ve been helping our clients to create the right kind of email. It’s a very specific effort to get the right design, and that’s something that the online companies, the portals, already know, and are able to leverage well and create large volumes.”
Hitesh Oberoi, CEO, Info Edge India Ltd, which is best known for Naukri.com, one of India’s leading job sites, said, “Tools like job alerts multiplied our traffic as early as 2001-02. The volumes today have moved up to 30-40 million job alerts a week. Matching is a key component of making emails work. In fact, we are moving towards behavioural targeting to increase the efficacy of mailing.” He also said that companies in their early stages needed to be very careful when using email marketing.
It’s important to remember that email as a marketing tool must be used tactfully, as it is far more intrusive than display ads. Marketers should create a platinum database of high-response customers. White-listing is important to make sure that one’s content lands at the right place and the right time.
Saxena added, “The main uses are still to send out offers, company info or announcements, but we are seeing it become more interactive, and leading to a great deal more of communication flow between brands and consumers, which is a very positive sign.”