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E-mail's New Role

  |  December 6, 2010   |  Comments

E-mail has evolved from the backbone of digital communications into the spine of a socially driven outreach.

I was walking through the airport a few weeks ago and a lady came up to me and said, "Aren't you that lady who is always talking about spines?"

I turned to see who she was talking to and upon realizing she was talking to me, became very confused. Flashes of TV commercials for those law firms who will make you rich if you lost X, Y, or Z in an accident were running through my head. Did I look like Roni Deutch? Did this woman have one too many cocktails at the airport bar?

"Excuse me," I said, "but I think you have the wrong person. I work in marketing."

"No you don't," said the woman. "You are the lady who is old enough to have founded the e-mail industry and you always do that transformational speaking on how e-mail isn't a marketing channel, but more the spine of all of our digital efforts."

Wow…two things stuck in my head - transformational speaking - I like that phrase, so I've adopted it. And double wow…all my years of positioning e-mail as the critically important channel have finally made its way into the heart and head of at least one lady.

As this woman and I spoke, we discussed a great deal about the changing ROI e-mail offers, the perceived value that it has within companies today, and how e-mail has adopted a new role. The new role of e-mail has become something that has always been there, but never realized by more than half of the marketers using the channel. E-mail has evolved from the backbone of digital communications into the spine of a socially driven outreach that enables both offline and online channels to merge into one powerful conversation.

With e-mail's new role, the effectiveness is no longer simply about the open rate, the unsub rate, or even the purchase-based ROI from a send. Instead, it's now creating a new set of metrics from which to be measured against. Elements like influencer engagement, social extension, and the new ROI - return on impact - are starting to be widely adopted. As over 40 million households become smart-media device adopters over the next 12 months, e-mail's role as the spine will only become straighter and stronger.

A few years ago, I stood in front of a room of e-mail marketers: mid-level managers who were looking to make a mark on the world. I asked them to all look around, as they were the future of our marketing and media industry. I told them they were the leaders. Today, an e-mail marketing manager's role is much more than simply e-mail marketing messages, it's strategic innovation and integration into areas that impact a future that is being created daily. This woman happened to be sitting in the room when I spoke. Someone gave her a chance in e-mail and it has transformed her life from a job into a successful and blossoming career. She has taken chances and been bold in her efforts, and the results at her company have paid off in multitudes. If you are in the e-mail marketing business, now could be your time to shine too. Take hold of e-mail's new role, make it your own, and own the future.


Jeanniey Mullen

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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