From the Trenches

Why Email Deserves to Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Will Davis | January 12, 2010

It’s been exactly 3 months since the  October 12, 2009 Wall Street Journal article Why Email No Longer Rules…And what that means for the way we communicate touched off a mini-firestorm in the marketing world.  This article wasn’t the first on the topic but really more of a culmination.  It seems for much of 2008 and 2009 there were many similar articles, in newspapers, industry pubs, blogs, etc.  And yet, if my inbox since then, the back-end analytics results we see, and the accompanying graph from Forrester Research here are indicators –- The rumors of email’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

forrester email

Before we get too far, let’s start with a couple numbers.  According to The Direct Marketing Association’s Power of Direct Report, Email marketing continues to demonstrate the highest ROI of all direct marketing channels, including search.  According to the report, email returned $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009. While that is down $1.31 from 2008, it still far outpaces the ROI of PPC search advertising, which with an ROI of $21.85 is the next most effective.

So what does this mean to you?  Well if you have read anything on Marketing Trenches you’ll know that I’m probably going to work the word strategy into this post a half dozen times before I’m through (OK, maybe that is a slight exaggeration).  But, email deserves strong consideration as a part of that strategy.  Notice I say a part, because your other components are critical as well, and the most successful approaches are truly integrated.

Instead of choosing one channel over another because it has the highest surveyed ROI metrics, look at ways to use these together.  As an example, many of the top Email Service Providers (ESPs) offer Share With Your Network (SWYN) features now, integrating social network sharing tools into your email marketing.  If you aren’t working with a top ESP right now you should be – the half a penny you may save on a send just isn’t worth what you are sacrificing.

From an integrated marketing perspective, your email subscriber base and ROI from that base is likely to grow when you are using marketing channels like search (both Paid and Organic/SEO), social media and other online and offline marketing in a more holistic, integrated way, reaching your prospects and customers in multiple places and increasing your overall marketing ROI.

With the recent flip of the calendar, now is as good a time as any to reevaluate how email fits into your interactive and overall marketing plan.  Because trust me, email is alive and kicking.

What are your recent experiences with email marketing?  I’d love for you to add them in the comments below.

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