About 10 years ago, the marketing illuminati declared “email is dead.” It had run its course as a marketing tool. And then… it made a comeback! With so much noise on social media, a targeted email communication suddenly had a lot more value, and email was resurrected.
Over the past decade, marketers have used everything from email clients like Microsoft Outlook to sophisticated and integrated marketing automation platforms like Pardot to engage with clients via e-mail.
But in 2019, it seems email has once again lost a bit of its lustre as a marketing tool. Prospects and customers are too time-strapped, and too savvy, to put much stock into or even bother reading marketing emails.
Is it dying again — or dead? We asked the Roundtable this week for their thoughts on the future of email marketing.
It’s All About Segmenting and Targeting
Julie Ford: I wouldn’t say email as a whole is dead. It’s just changed. The days of buying large lists and blasting them with generic emails are gone. This has made email marketing a lot more challenging for marketers, but also more effective when done right.
In B2B specifically, email marketing works well when the target audience is segmented and the email content is directed to their specific challenges and needs. You may not email as many prospects using this approach, but the email performance will likely be higher.
For example, I led a webinar for a B2B tech company recently. The email campaign to the company’s prospect list drove a higher number of registrants than out organic and paid social campaigns, and our sponsored email blasts via third-parties. Furthermore, the open and click-through-rates on the email that was sent the next day to the people who registered for the webinar but did not attend were the highest I’ve seen in any email campaign in a long time — at least 10 points above average. These results validate that email marketing can be effective when it’s relevant, time-sensitive and expected by the recipient.
Think quality over quantity, and put yourself in your recipients shoes when developing email campaigns and strategies throughout 2019.
And don’t buy lists!
“Set-it-and-forget-it” is Dead
Josh Kern: Julie and I are well-aligned on this one. I don’t think email is dead as a marketing tool, but I do think it’s time for the traditional B2B email newsletter to be put out to pasture.
Generic, “here’s a bunch of stuff you might like but really, we just want to remind you we exist” emails just seem like yesterday’s news. As marketers, we should be hyper-focused on providing personalized and relevant information anytime we send out a communication. We should never send out an email without asking ourselves, “will the people receiving this email find it truly useful?” If the answer is anywhere close to “no,” we shouldn’t be sending it.
When I think about the emails I receive, both at work and on the personal side, I ignore the general email newsletters but I gravitate to anything providing something practical and useful. For example, I occasionally get emails from one of the many SEO tools providers out there; they’re not on a regular schedule, but when they do come, it’s usually a new template to use, a new plug-in or tool, or a step-by-step how-to guide. Not every one of these emails is a winner, but they’ve provided enough value to have earned my trust.
I know that marketers and marketing teams (not to mention small businesses where the staff all wear many hats including marketing) are strapped for time and resources, and “set it and forget it” regular newsletters are the types of easy wins we need to stay sane. But with a little more effort, and a little more mining of the data we have at our disposal these days thanks to automation and CRM, our emails can be more timely and relevant, and email can remain an effective tool for acquiring and retaining prospects and clients.
Also: Don’t buy lists!
Give the People What they Want
Esha Khan, B2B Pipeline Marketing Manager, Brainrider: Email has been through its fair share of ups and downs as we experimented with ways to use (abuse?) it. But I think email has finally found its place as a mainstream marketing tool. In this age of personalization, email is more about reaching opted in leads with targeted messaging around their areas of interest. Julie and Josh have explained that well.
I also think more stringent regulations have given email a new and more meaningful life — people who sign up to receive emails, actually want them, or at the very least, expect them. Using an email preference centre is a great way to make sure you’re enabling people to choose and control what sort of emails they would like to receive. It also gives you a sense of what your target audience is really looking for so you can plan content and messaging that keeps them interested in both your emails and other channels.
Esha Khan is a B2B Pipeline Marketing Manager at Brainrider, a Toronto-based digital marketing agency. She has over 10 years’ experience in marketing, on both the client and agency side, planning lead generation campaigns and developing customer-centric content strategies.
Leverage Today’s Tools to Provide Relevant Content
Mike Wilson, Marketing Technologist: I certainly wouldn’t agree that email marketing is dead today, rather I think the excitement around email marketing as become more stagnant as it has now become a permanent fixture in the digital marketer’s toolbox.
Today’s email marketing platforms are more sophisticated than ever before, so marketers should be moving away of the old “batch and blast” approach and moving towards a more lead-centric methodology: leveraging dynamic content to serve each individual lead/consumer the most relevant content in real time.
In 2019, email marketing is not dead, but it is also no longer just a buzz word, it is a practical tool and valued marketing channel which can be leveraged in all businesses big or small, B2B or B2C.
Mike Wilson is a Marketing Technologist with more than six years’ experience as a marketer with a strong focus in marketing automation and lead generation.
Where do you see email marketing heading? Are you using it in new and exciting ways right now? Drop us a line on Twitter!
And as always, let us know if you’d like to contribute to a future Glance Roundtable.
- How does email fit in to 2019? Read our thoughts on the year’s hottest content marketing trends.
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