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Guest Column: Email Marketing - the rise of the Phoenix

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Guest Column: Email Marketing - the rise of the Phoenix

Ever since emails first made their way onto the list of marketing activities, they have been growing in credibility and reliability. Those who thought this crisp and effective push marketing tool would fade into oblivion with the introduction of smartphones and tablets were obviously wrong. Instead, these mobile devices are driving up email usage and recent trends conclusively indicate that email marketing continues to be the number one direct channel for both personal and marketing communications.

According to a study by ExactTarget, 77 per cent of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communication through email. Convince and Convert found that 44 per cent of email recipients made at least one purchase based on a promotional email they had received. However, this does not mean that an organisation can churn out generic email campaigns and expect a high open rate. Today’s discerning customers receive a barrage of information and email campaigns need to be planned keeping in mind their needs and changing technology. Emailers have to be focused. B to P or ‘Business to Person’ is the new mantra.

Organisations need to ensure that their email marketing campaigns are in-line with changing consumer behaviour and keep in mind some key points.

Understand What Your Customer Wants
The BlueHornet 2013 Consumer Views on Email Marketing found that 83.5 per cent of respondents said that the most important reason they had shared their email with a company was to receive information on discounts offered. While 63 per cent of consumers said they may buy after reading an email read on a mobile device. In a price sensitive market, delivering value to your customers can be a win-win situation for both. Additionally, when purse strings are being tightened and the marketing department needs to justify costs, these survey findings definitively mean we can contribute to meeting sales targets.

Know What Channel Your Customer Is On
With smartphones and tablets becoming increasingly popular, ensuring your mailer design is optimized to the needs of a smartphone is no longer optional. Consumers today have hectic schedules and are constantly on the move. This is when succinct messages that can be viewed on a smartphone prove most helpful. A recent report by Movable Ink found that 61 per cent of consumers say they open emails on a smartphone or tablet. While consumer sentiment around content delivered on smartphones, like mobile coupons is largely favorable, there is low tolerance for poor design or when rendering quality of a mailer is low. We have also found that usage of colors and planning your mailer on the right day of the week and time of day work wonders.

Get Your Mailer to Address Your Customers’ Needs
Generic mailers to your entire database are a big no-no. Access intelligence on customer behavior from your CRM solution, segment your target audience along parameters of age, sex, region, interests, buying behavior, and develop messages that address their need. In line with surveys, we have found that differentiated mailer campaigns produced a 50 per cent higher click through rate. Speaking to discerning, differentiated audiences also requires an organization to talk in a language readers identify with and are receptive to. For example, in a B2C mailer, the language must definitely be informal with words that elicit emotion. This does not apply in a B2B mailer where the recipients would expect the content to appeal to their intellect and/or have a ‘cost-benefit’ perspective.

Engage in Holistic Email Marketing
In email marketing, one size does not fit all. Understanding where your customers are on the buying cycle, educating, nurturing and building their confidence in your organization is an important process. We have found that email marketing is an invaluable and cost-effective tool for not just bringing in immediate results, but long-term loyalty-building, branding and sales as well.

Leverage Email Marketing as Part of a Larger Marketing Strategy
When engaging in an emailer program, it is important to ensure it is part of a larger marketing and branding initiative. While announcing offers may be an excellent way to extract a strategic customer response, always ensure your messaging is aligned to your larger brand identity. Mailers are also just one channel of communicating with your audience. An intelligent mix of a number of channels like social media and content marketing enables an organization to reinforce a message, reach out to a larger number of people across channels and ensure a larger buy-in from the audience.

Keep Your Email Database Growing
When consumers want information, they readily share their email. BlueHornet found in their 2013 Consumer Views on Email Marketing that 82 per cent of their respondents had entered their email within the sign-up form at a brand’s website and 53 per cent had given their email to the sales clerk at a point-of-sale. 39.7 per cent entered their email on the email opt-in page on a brand's social site. These statistics are encouraging pointers on how we can ensure our email database is constantly growing. It also shows organizations can back-up their mailer campaigns by innovatively engaging potential customers both online and offline as well.

Email Marketing is Here to Stay, so Harness it Innovatively to Maximise Revenue for Your Organisation
Without doubt, email marketing is making a strong come back and its tremendous acceptability is visible from the growing popularity of permission-based marketing. Budgetary allocations to this form of marketing are showing an increase as well. An excellent push channel that it is, your organisation should not hesitate to harness email marketing to engage customers and use it as a ready tool to both hard and soft sell your products. However, don’t forget, in exchange for handing over their email, consumers expect value from your brand. This can be by way of educative information or special offers. So, contrary to what many say, surveys on consumer behaviour, and our experience points out that email marketing still has zest in it and should continue being leveraged extensively as a useful marketing tool.

The author is General Manager – Marketing, Corporate Communications & Inside Sales at ITC Infotech.

Tags Email Marketing Shivani Kapoor ITC Infotech ExactTarget BlueHornet

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