In the age of smart phones, tablets, app-based operating systems and social media advertising, are you still using email for inbound marketing? If you are, then good for you.
Is eMail Outdated?
Email may seem to be a decade outdated, but just as Forrester Research Inc. predicted in their Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016, email continues to be a mainstay of successful integrated marketing efforts, alongside rising social media and mobile channels. However, there are changes to the email marketing landscape that may impact how you should be reaching out to your leads via email.
The Case for Email Marketing
If you have been hesitating before beginning an email campaign, it is important to understand that email isn’t a completely outbound effort, given spam filters and laws against unsolicited email which is the biggest no-no of permission-based marketing. It also isn’t entirely inbound either, as it relies on marketing tactics to encourage prospects to subscribe to an email newsletter or regular marketing updates.
In essence, this puts email marketing in the later part of the inbound marketing process – something deep, slightly more complex because of its nature as a medium of direct communication. In exchange, email is a very effective lead nurturing vehicle and platform for building brand authority and loyalty.
As a result, email marketing is the bridge that moves traffic and visitors from being merely “interested” to becoming actual leads – it can even close a sale. A tool so powerful should be used properly, so let’s look at email marketing as it stands today.
Email Marketing Today
Web-based mail, popularized by AOL, MSN, and Yahoo a number of years ago, is still the dominant method of email use today. Mobile platforms of email are on the rise too, however, with a substantial 34% increase of use from 2010 to 2011 alone, according to research conducted by Return Path. For instance, viewing email on the iPad grew by a whopping 73% in the twelve month period.
This means that the platforms people use to open their emails are diversifying. From webmail to app-based mail tools and of course, software such as Outlook or Apple Mail, the two leading platforms in that category.
How Do We Adapt to the New Platforms?
So what are the implications of these changes for your email marketing efforts? Webmail still reigns, so any effective strategies you have in place for email marketing specifically for webmail should be maintained. If you have yet to develop a specific strategy for mobile, however, now is a good time to do so. At the very least, you should develop email campaigns tailored specifically for smaller screens and native smart phone and tablet email apps.
Let’s also touch on improving the user experience. PulsePoint documents an excellent case study on how a better user experience with email helped New York Media decrease its unsubscribe rate by an impressive 76%. The trick? An email “preference center” solution.
The preference center allowed New York Media’s email subscribers to tweak their preferences, update their data, and choose which topics to subscribe and unsubscribe to – a vast improvement from the one-click, no-questions-asked unsubscribe feature that New York Media’s previous email effort offered. Again, it’s all about user experience.
The Bottom Line
Email is indeed a powerful tool in your inbound marketing repertoire, and as such, it should be given due attention. We’ll delve into more email marketing soon.