The Best Real Estate for Marketers: A Customer’s Inbox

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With Apple’s recent push for data security, it announced that the new privacy setting in the upcoming operating systems will allow users to turn off tracking of email opens through the Mail app. News like this can easily scare any email marketer, but we’re here to tell you email marketing is just as valuable as before — and maybe even better than social media.

Although data privacy safeguards are becoming increasingly more common in the digital marketing landscape, email marketing is far from dead. Did you know there are more than 4 billion email accounts, which are being used by more than half of the world population, and that number will grow to nearly half a billion by 2024? In 2021, the total number of emails sent or received per day totals to around 319 billion and that number is only going to grow at least 13% by 2024

The number of Facebook and Twitter users combined only measures up to half of worldwide email users.

Email marketing provides something that social media doesn’t: intentional communication with people who are already interested in your brand. How do you think you got their email address in the first place? 

It should be noted that some businesses do build email lists through shady practices, i.e. including that by agreeing to signing up for a newsletter, you sign up for brand emails as well. This is why trust — from both the customer and the brand — is the most important factor in developing successful email marketing campaigns.

Adapt to the ever-changing landscape of digital transformation in the marketing world requires us first to get back to the basics of marketing. Think of the needs and wants for your strategy and align the tactics with those values. Then you’ll understand how email marketing meets the mark.

Email drives intimate, trusting and engaging relationships with customers.

The goal of any touchpoint is to start a conversation, and that’s exactly what email is meant to do. Email provides a direct line of communication to easily and quickly share company-wide announcements or seasonal/limited offers. 

And personalization is on your side — something almost all other digital marketing strategies, like social media, lack. Knowing your customers’ names can benefit you; emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Customer data is key because when you know their birthdays, favorites or habits, you can provide a follow-up or special offer that will draw them to your brand.

Email is cost-efficient and just effective, in general.

For every dollar spent, email marketing generates $42 in revenue, a rather high ROI. In fact, email marketing is known among most U.S. retailers to be the most effective tactic for customer acquisition. 

According to a study done by WBR Digital and Emarsys, email has the highest acquisition and retention rates (81% and 80%), with organic search following behind at 62% and 36% and social media at 51% and 44%. 

Email reaches more people.

When sending an email, you are 45 times more likely to have your message seen than if you were to post the same message on Facebook. Your email will catch someone’s eye in their inbox 90% of the time, compared with 2% of time your Facebook post will meaningfully reach someone, thanks to Facebook’s limit on promotional content.

Imagine posting on Facebook to an audience of 10,000 versus emailing 10,000 people; 200 will see your Facebook post while at least 9,000 will see your email. In addition, people check their emails constantly (around five hours a day), so they’re likely to see your message, even if for a moment, which is still important and leads us to our next point …

Email is easy to recall.

Try to remember the last time you saw an ad on your social media feed. Did you just scroll past? Did you end up clicking on it? Now, if someone in the future was talking about a subject that related to that ad you saw, how likely would you be able to find that content again? Probably pretty unlikely.

Now, imagine a different scenario — you receive an email advertising a local hair salon and briefly glance at it. Maybe you even delete the email. Later that day at work, while talking to a coworker, they mention they’re looking for a hair salon, and that email you saw earlier pops into your head. You whip out your phone and search through your deleted emails to find it and refer your friend.

Email provides a way past that fleeting moment on social media and keeps content and brands at the forefront of your mind, even if you don’t read or open the email (this is why the subject line and preview sentences matter).

Email encourages some kind of action.

Since the first email was sent in 1971, we’ve been trained to respond to an email in some way, whether it be opening, deleting, replying, forwarding, clicking through, signing up or buying. On the other hand, social media trains us to just scroll by content and rarely encourages us to engage. This is because we already have somewhat of a commitment to the brand. 

Ultimately, action-oriented emails help marketers figure out what’s working and what’s not.

Email yields reproducible results.

The best thing about email marketing is that it’s conducive to A/B testing: Which subject line should you use? Should you use HTML or plain-text emails? Do you need more graphics or images? At what time in the day should you send it? Who should it be sent from?

Metrics like open or click-through rate can help you see almost instantaneous, real-time feedback as all of your actions as an email recipient are being analyzed. With data privacy limitations, brands can respect privacy while still achieving measurable results by tagging links with UTM codes, unique offer codes or unique landing page URLs.

Email provides independent and open communication.

As a brand on social media, you’re subject to that platform’s rules and regulations. If they change something in their privacy policies or the way content can be formatted, you have to adhere to those things. And if that platform dies (remember MySpace?), all that time and effort put into social media campaigns has to start over somewhere else.

With email, you’re not controlled by a single entity. And even if major restrictions are placed on your tracking — like how the Apple iOS 14 has limited app tracking — there’s no need to worry because your subject line and preview still make all the difference. You can still get your message across.

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Just as email marketing isn’t dead, neither is social media marketing. The two need to work together to provide the best experience for your brand and your customers. Email marketing is just another ground to cover and a way of communicating, so use each platform’s strengths to work together as part of a holistic digital strategy. 

It’s easy to get caught up in whatever platform or medium you’re using, so make sure to take a step back and remember the basics of marketing, because no matter the tactic, the key is to engage with your audience in a meaningful way. 

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