Convinced email is the new snail mail? Not so fast.
Social media and AI platforms get a lot of buzz, but sharing content and advertising through personalized marketing emails can still work with certain market segments, thanks to technological advancements in the use of customer data to personalize content.
For a while, email fell out of favor with companies in favor of social media, said Jeff Kupietzky, CEO of PowerInbox, an email marketing vendor. Many saw email as too "old school." As costs increased for new channels, consumers grew more skeptical of social and search content -- and, more recently, of the privacy of their data on social media. Consumers, too, grew wary of social media after privacy issues cropped up.
Today, you can't go on a company website -- B2B or B2C -- without seeing an email sign-up form. Every business uses email as a sales channel, some utilizing it more effectively than others, to drive a significant part of their sales. Tools like PowerInbox, Campaign Monitor and CRM-native tools such as Salesforce's Pardot can help marketers get the job done.
Softonic, a software and app discovery portal, recently rolled out its first newsletter and quickly saw the financial payoff. "Users are engaging because we're providing relevant information," said Claudia Ruiz, Softonic's email marketing strategist. "We see revenue coming in as a result of relevant ads going out via email."
Email channel spending up
Claudia Ruizemail marketing strategist, Softonic
The email resurgence has been marked by a recent increase in distribution and subscriptions. U.S. email marketing spending is expected to reach $3.07 billion in 2019, up from $2.07 billion in 2014, according to a study by Statista. Meanwhile, HubSpot reported that 86% of professionals prefer email when communicating for business purposes. Data & Marketing Association and Demand Metric also found email has a median ROI of 122%, which is four times higher than other marketing formats, including social media, direct mail and paid search.
With people securing permanent email addresses from multiple devices, companies are able to recognize and target customers at virtually every touchpoint. Users guard their email accounts as personal one-on-one channels, unlike their often-public social media accounts.
Email is cheap -- it's cost-free for users -- and e-newsletter marketing programs are inexpensive to run. Adding email advertisements, which aren't prohibited by browser-based ad blockers, is also a no-brainer. Customers consent to receiving information when they subscribe to the newsletter, so they aren't put off by ads. They willingly invite content into their inbox because they already trust the source.
Advertisers can also ensure their messages get through to their audiences every time personalized marketing emails are sent, knowing that monetizing email has already proven effective. Some email marketing tools like PowerInbox work on a pay-per-click model, which means users pay only for results.
Personalized email marketing
Part of the appeal of sending personalized marketing emails is the ability to use customer data to incorporate relevant content to drive engagement and sales. Because email addresses link to accounts, companies can track behavior, preferences and activities, tying them all back to the same user. As a result, they can deliver more precisely targeted content than website cookies or searches can.
The idea behind today's email marketing strategy is offering customers something of value and interest, targeting customers who are more likely to take action with a click or a purchase.
"We're also starting to see publishers begin to test alternative communication channels such as push notifications and chatbots" supplementing e-newsletter marketing, Kupietzky said. "Those will be interesting to watch, as they can easily be used to complement email."