Is email marketing still effective in the age of Spam Boxes?

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email-marketing-1How often have you deleted those umpteen mailers that clog your mailbox every day without even opening the mail? Newsletters and offers from the movie-ticketing portal you once booked tickets from or an e-commerce site you shopped at?

Email marketing is one of the earliest direct communication tools in the digital space, and has been used by companies to disseminate information about their products to a large database of existing and potential users, and create brand awareness and recall.

However, despite being around for some time, and notwithstanding the inherent advantages of the medium, email marketing is still not the preferred choice for most marketers. Despite its cost-effectiveness, why is the medium used by brands only to drive traffic to their micro sites or as email blasts for announcements?

With features like ‘DND’ offering respite to users struggling with the overload of useless information in their mailboxes, email marketing faces a formidable challenge unless personalization and segmentation techniques are used. Email marketing campaigns need to be tailor-made to each consumer segments’ interests and needs so as to be truly effective.

Arshiya Khullar of Pitch, spoke to different players in this domain – brand experts and digital agencies and sought their opinion on ‘The Relevance of Email Marketing in the Age of Spam Boxes’. Here is what they had to say.

Vishwadeep Bajaj, CEO, ValueFirst Digital Media

Vishwadeep Bajaj, CEO, ValueFirst Digital Media

Vishwadeep Bajaj, CEO, ValueFirst Digital Media

The Indian market is on its way to unleash the potential of digital marketing wherein companies use better digital mediums to reach to their customers. E-mail marketing is one of the most cost-effective and competent tools of digital marketing.  However, it is very important to use this service offering in the right manner.  The optimized way to generate lead from emails is only possible if a relevant message is delivered to a customer.

Email marketing just like any other marketing tool needs to be deployed in an effective way to avoid being treated as a spam. Some of the tips for using e-mail marketing in a better manner include:

Use of opt-in emails: To start with one must always run the email campaign with opt-in email lists by working with opt-in email inventory owners rather than buying the lists from random sources. Opt-in email to be precise is any commercial email sent to individuals who have purposely signed up to receive it.

Target audience- Further before sending out the email, one must segment and target the audience. By doing so, one can get better performances.

Rich content – Another key thing to bear in mind is the subject line and the content of the email. The subject line is the first thing which is read by the recipient and must be engaging and meaningful. The content of the email can be leveraged in several ways. For example: the graphics and the copy should be worthy of attention. You can also get experimental by making the email content an interactive game thereby eliciting call to action from the recipient. One must follow industry best practices and use optimum creativity to seek consumer attention and response.

Several industry veterans believe that email marketing will grow in popularity in year 2013.

Naveen Bachwani, Head – Marketing Services, Experian India

Naveen Bachwani, Head – Marketing Services, Experian India

Naveen Bachwani, Head – Marketing Services, Experian India

Every marketer has a basic need – The need to engage with their customer in the most optimal manner possible. That means ensuring that the right message is sent to the right audience at the right time. And, Email Marketing addresses this core need more efficiently than almost any other medium of communication.

A robust and feature-rich Email Marketing platform offers marketers the ability to customize their communication, get direct feedback from their consumers regarding their products & services, and design promotional offers to suit the varying needs of each individual consumer in the target group. The ability to engage with consumers, and the ease of measuring the effectiveness of the campaign, ensures RoI on campaigns, and makes email marketing very attractive for marketers.

The key lies in ensuring that emails, both, reach and are read by your customers. The challenge that most marketers face is to ensure that marketing e-mailers safely negotiate SPAM filters; that the content of the e-mailer is relevant; and that the emails are delivered to the Inbox in the formats and at the times that are most likely to drive engagement.

The three pillars of successful Deliverability are Data integrity, Relevance and Reputation. Marketers are no longer leaving deliverability to chance, and it is not a discussion restricted to the Technology team. In fact, marketers are increasingly partnering with Email Marketing service providers of repute to ensure that deliverability is high on their campaigns.

In the end, it all comes down to how well we manage the message and the medium.

As marketers, we can choose to send out large amounts of unsolicited emails to irrelevant databases, or choose to build our customer relationships, one customer at a time – starting out with a small set of loyal customers, seeking their permission to engage with them periodically, and sending out communication that is relevant to their needs. The road to building lifelong relationships with customers may take a bit longer to tread on, but it is well worth the effort.

Saurabh Parmar, CEO, Brandlogist

Saurabh Parmar, CEO, Brandlogist

Saurabh Parmar, CEO, Brandlogist
Email Marketing is not about sending Emails to your customers via a mass email dispatch & using an Email analytic tool. The problem of relevance starts exactly there, because most marketers believe and practice something similar. In my opinion to be effective in email marketing the 4 most important things for a marketer are:

Be Relevant: With spam filters becoming more stringent & email load increasing the focus for a marketer should be not on what “you want your customer to know but what they want to know.” That starts by having better opt ins, avoid buying databases & segmenting your database as far as possible by demographics & psychographics so as to send it to only the relevant customers for the particular mail.

Test: Run A/B testing before sending out a major mail. It’s more important because if more users start finding it irrelevant (spam) or less relevant (aka Gmail priority inboxes or third party tools) they are chances you may not even reach the relevant customer the next time you send your emails. So test your database on a small sample size.

Optimize: ’People change’ ,that happens in life & in marketing-so do their preferences .So it’s important that you keep optimizing your database segmentation basis their changing demographics (location, age, income) to psychographics (teen to young adult to parent in early thirties) . It makes your cost effective & people like you more if you are relevant to them.

Content: Nearly all email clients – webmail or otherwise, block images by default. If a person has to enable images to even understand your email you end up losing a large number of them initially it. Make sure your content explains the point of the email & images supplement the primary content, never depend on them. Also it makes sense to make your content to be in sync with current trends-like current events, shift in cultural trends or even something which is trending on twitter.

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