Is email marketing dead already?

As I was clearing out my junk folder yet again yesterday, it got me thinking – is email marketing dead already?

Like most major companies at MYOB we’ve found in the past that email marketing can be a simple and effective way to reach our clients ― we’ve certainly had our fair share of “learning’s” in this space and made our fair share of mistakes.   But with so much spam now flooding everyone’s inbox, and some really nasty spammers making everyone more wary, has email  had its day as an effective marketing tool?

Communications technology has provided so many more avenues for direct, rich and responsive ways to speak – and listen – your customer base. But like direct mail before it, I suspect there is still a role for the right kind of email as a persuasive way of engaging your customers.

And, like so many things in business, it all comes down to trust.

Many business owners believe they need to be in their customer’s faces in order to be noticed.  But – as we all know from experience – this can have just the opposite effect.

You want to build a relationship with them and like any relationship you need trust. Would you want to do business with someone who was cluttering up your inbox with constant, completely irrelevant emails?   Me either…

The thing to remember with email marketing is that it’s so easy for people to just click the delete button without even opening your email. It’s so important to have a good reputation ― your aim is for people to see your name as the sender and want to open your email.

And once you’ve built that reputation – and have their permission to communicate by email –you don’t want to waste it by sending your clients anything they won’t want to read.

I know that I only open emails that I feel are targeted at me and are going to offer me something.  Emails that are generic and consistently have nothing relevant for me I just delete without even opening.

So I guess the answer to my first question is no – not yet, but in the hands of the lazy or the unscrupulous, it may be that email marketing is killed off pretty soon.

And that would be a bit of a shame, because, like a skillfully written letter, that right kind of email can be highly effective.

  • Every so often you hear the same old ‘Email Is Dead’, ‘Direct Mail Is Dead’ or whatever form of ‘Marketing Is Dead’.
    The simple fact is that its as strong as ever! Email is just a medium to connect with your ‘Tribe’ – Too often you see people email once every couple of months and only when the ‘Latest Special’ is running and that is no way to establish any ‘Relationship’.
    Emails need to sent on a regular basis (Daily or Weekly) with information that is useful to the person, they need to look forward to your next email and your valuable information. Then after forming that relationship do you send out a ‘Sales Offer’ which is then treated with far more respect.
    Some will say that their customers wont read a daily email – However, the only time they wont read it is when it doesnt contain information that is valuable to them.
    Build some character and stories into your emails (there are some very good articles about this from Pete Godfrey and Dan Kennedy) which although dont create sales on a daily basis, establish a long term relationship with your ‘Tribe’ which is what email is all about.
    Relationships first, Sales second.

  • Matthew – I think you sum it all up brilliantly with your last sentence – “Relationships first, Sales second.” It’s about be trusted to provide relevant content.

  • I would disagree with Matthew’s comments about sending emails on a daily or weekly basis.

    Relevance relates both to content, but also context.

    The frequency of communications should really be determined by the industry or product category you’re in. I don’t expect to receive a weekly email from an automotive or software company, but I would from a retailer.

    Unfortunately technology is making it easier to reach customers, and marketers feel obliged to ‘communicate’ by sending any old rubbish, rather than providing value. And value doesn’t mean an offer, or something free, it can simply be relevant content.

    Smart marketers are able to publish dynamic content into their emails and also their websites, so that the content is tailored to the individual. Obviously there are costs associated with doing this, so it can be difficult to justify in the beginning.

    However I can tell you it works. I’ve seen results from an NZ loyalty program, where they tested generic vs. tailored content, and the results started to vary dramatically (in favour of tailored content) after 5-6 contacts.

    One last point – it’s only going to get worse. One thing the GFC brought was a major shift in cost reduction, which has seen most businesses push everything online. That means there will be even more rubbish being distributed via email.

    The winners will be the businesses who are not lazy, and are genuine about having a relationship with their customer, and who can leverage the available data to tailor all their communications, regardless of channel.

  • Many say that email is dead. But on an average basis a person at least sends two mails. Its all about building trust.