Is e-mail's branding impact still strong? Does e-mail still intrigue readers? Or do they just skim it?
We all know how much impact e-mail marketing efforts can have. The return on investment is often second to none. CMOs love it, engaged consumers love it, and marketers love it. Some would say the world has finally fallen under e-mail's spell.
As e-mail's popularity has grown, its purpose and usefulness has changed. In today's world, e-mail is often seen as a facilitator of a greater end. Maybe it drives people to a Web site, store, social network, or even phone. Whatever the channel is, e-mail has become a great driver.
With that said, some may question e-mail's impact on the brand. Is it still as strong? Does e-mail still intrigue readers, or do they just skim it?
E-mail Influences People
You may not realize it, but your e-mail is more powerful than you think. Recent research indicates the sender and subject lines alone generate a brand-related response, without the e-mail being opened. Sometimes it's good, other times not so good. But one thing is for sure: when recipients read your sender and subject lines, they make some type of response.
The interesting element of unopened e-mail's brand impact is its ability to influence recipients on the content referenced in the subject line. For instance, after people receive a number of e-mail messages with subject lines like, "Invest now and be rich," they tend to explore the topic in more detail. Does this mean they'll open the obvious spam? No, but it does mean that if you are a financial services company, you may receive a boost in results due to renewed interest in the topic.
With such an interesting change happening with unopened e-mail, we can't forget about the compelling actions that occur once an e-mail is opened. A general best practice is you shouldn't start an e-mail with "Dear [Name]," unless you intend to sign the e-mail with a salutation like "sincerely" or "thank you." Though the significance of the salutation's impact is still unknown, the salutation definitely gets noticed.
For two weeks, I changed my e-mail signature line to:
Within two days, 17 people took the time to call me (yes, call me) to see what "AF" stood for. After a week, I'd counted over 100 inquires.
While admittedly odd, this experiment demonstrates that e-mail does influence and affect us, even in a world where e-mail's main purpose has transitioned into being a director and advisor rather than a purchasing vehicle. How e-mail will continue to evolve isn't entirely clear. One thing is for sure, though: e-mail's influence on our lives is growing.
Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.
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