04/22/2021

Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Email in Your Marketing Mix

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Article at a Glance:

  • Businesses have increased spending on digital advertising in the last year as more and more commerce has shifted online.
  • However, focusing campaign dollars on digital ads alone may not guarantee a high return on ad spend. To find marketing success in 2021, companies need to recenter marketing efforts on personalized customer touchpoints.
  • One of the best yet most overlooked tools in the marketer’s toolbox for this is email marketing. By investing in your email strategy to cultivate channel synergies throughout your multi-touch marketing funnel, you can cater to your customers’ desire for direct contact while helping them move along in their buyers’ journey.
  • Therefore, as you build out your next campaign framework, ensure you have clearly labeled markers throughout the funnel where you can complement advertisements with personalized, direct email messages and clear calls to action.

More business is happening online now than ever before thanks to the global disruption of physical commerce in the last year. Consequently, businesses have also increased spending on digital advertising. According to PwC’s 2020 IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, digital ad spend increased by 11.7 percent and 28.7 percent in Q3 and Q4 respectively, and social media advertising alone increased by 16.3 percent from 2019.

However, focusing campaign dollars on digital ads alone may not guarantee a high return on ad spend. Ads should be complemented with noninformative advertising content (i.e. content that does not directly promote your product or service). The Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that consumers prefer direct communication in uncertain times. In the last year, explained HBR, successful marketers were the ones that “pulled back on campaigns and canceled events, focusing instead on communicating with their customers and building community.” 

In the last year, successful marketers were the ones that pulled back on campaigns and canceled events, focusing instead on communicating with their customers and building community.

To find marketing success in 2021, companies need to recenter marketing efforts on personalized customer touchpoints. One of the best yet most overlooked tools in the marketer’s toolbox for this is email marketing. We find that email marketing communications often compete with brands’ paid media campaigns rather than complement them. By investing in your email strategy to cultivate channel synergies throughout your multi-touch marketing funnel, you can cater to your customers’ desire for direct contact while helping them move along in their buyers’ journey. 

The Power of Email in Multi-Touch Campaigns

Marketing programs should never be one-dimensional. From the customer’s Zero Moment of Truth, Google’s name for the “moment in the buying process when the consumer researches a product,” to the weeks following their purchase, you should have a strategy in place to guide and measure your customer’s interactions with your brand through a multitude of channels — such as organic social, paid social, search, display, out-of-home, voice, and email. 

Emails have the capacity for influencing behavior from the first touchpoint to the last.

In multi-touch attribution models, fractional credit is awarded to each touchpoint to measure how well that channel influences the customers buying behavior. Emails have the capacity for influencing behavior from the first touchpoint to the last by delivering consistent messages to customers with clear calls to action and additional information about the product or service depending on their stage in the journey. A university study found that 31.5 percent of respondents agreed that email marketing has played an important role in changing their attitudes toward products and services.

Emails are also one of the easiest touchpoints to measure, and therefore optimize. HBR advises, “With email, you know within 24 hours exactly which messages have been opened, by whom, what links the openers clicked on, and what part of your message was working.” Email marketing software giant Mailchimp reports that the average email open rate across industries is 21.3 percent, with an average click-though-rate (CTR) of 2.6 percent. Comparatively, the average CTR for paid search is 1.9 percent, while the benchmark for Facebook ads is 1.1 percent, Twitter is 0.9 percent, and LinkedIn is 0.2 percent. The cross-industry average return on investment for emails is $58 for every $1 spent. Email is demonstrably one of the most effective and efficient ways to build lasting relationships with customers and deliver business outcomes.

Closing the Gap with Email Marketing 

Email marketing has become even more important during the pandemic. A report by email software company Campaign Monitor report found that open rates increased during the pandemic, citing that users are locked into their computers all day while working from home and see email as a way to increase exposure to the outside world. The report also found that “subscribers are interested in receiving more email — if it contains the information they are looking for.” 

Other studies have found a direct link between increased email open rates and increased revenue during the pandemic. Email software company Litmus reports that email revenue in eCommerce especially has increased between 20 and 30 percent since March 2020. Again the key is to ensure that your emails work in harmony with your paid digital campaigns, and not against them. Message consistency is vital to the success of this marketing integration. 

Best Practices for Email Marketing Success

Including email in your paid media campaign is most effective when you follow best practices. First, use an automation tool to accurately deliver emails based on specific customer actions. Mailchimp explains, “Automation helps you streamline your communications with customers so you have more time to focus on creating content and increasing return on investment (ROI).”

Personalization is also key. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Marketing Science found that simply adding the customer’s name in the email subject line increased the probability of the recipient opening it by 20 percent, which translated to a 31 percent increase in sales leads and a 17 percent reduction in unsubscribes. At a time when customers are seeking direct communication from reliable brands, crafting personalized messages will drive up engagement and retention. 

Simply adding the customer’s name in the email subject line increases the probability of the recipient opening it by 20 percent.

It is also important to schedule your emails at an appropriate cadence. According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, seven marketing emails sent during the customer lifecycle is the optimal number. Sending more or fewer can be measurably detrimental to campaign success: the study found that sending four emails can cause the retailer to lose 32 percent of its lifetime profit per customer while sending ten leads to a 16 percent loss. 

Ultimately, customer inboxes are an untapped mine for effective marketing communications. As you build out your next campaign framework, ensure you have clearly labeled markers throughout the funnel where you can complement advertisements with personalized, direct email messages and clear calls to action. Reach out if you need help with that strategy.

About the author

TOM RICHARDS is the Vice President of Client Success at Kobe Digital. He brings a wealth of experience to our organization from his time working with brands such as Apple, Starbucks, and Expedia at agencies including BBDO, Campbell Ewald, and M&C Saatchi.