Email marketing has become the most abused word in the digital media ecosystem in India. But first, let's get back to basics.
Email marketing has always been an unsung hero for majority of the advertisers. But brands that use this form of digital marketing know that it proves to be the most effective tool for delivering results. Internet, in India too, stands for targeting and within the available tools, email is one of the most targeted one that marketers leverage as part of their mix.
Indian advertisers use email marketing for virtually every possible marketing objective today. Be it driving acquisitions, generating leads, creating awareness through reach etc., email satisfies most of the marketers' objectives. Reading email is one of the top most activities of Indian Internet users so it delivers the numbers that every marketer wishes for.
Email marketing has also become the most abused word in the digital media ecosystem of this country purely because of how some dot-coms and other players have used it over-extensively, resulting into either spam or low open rates which are falling further year on year. Consumer databases are sold like fruits and vegetables in this market, thanks to not-so-rigid spam regulations.
Having said this, I strongly feel that there are some core principles that can still help your brand stay afloat in this complex email marketing ecosystem. With time, these habits haven't died; in fact their importance is ever increasing now.
There used to be a time when addressing an email recipient by a user's name was a big thing. Not anymore. Email marketing can be improved to a great extent if a marketer can combine its website traffic data and behavior shown on the website, CRM, and VRM data and information such as purchase history. There are enough re-targeting parameters available that should be used in email marketing as well.
We all know most of the email service providers like Gmail, Hotmail, etc. are moving to prioritized message delivery formats and these email service providers (ESPs) treat irrelevant messages quite close to what we call spam. Even if it reaches the inbox of a user, the "low priority" of this message ensures that the user ends up never seeing it. Marketers then need to think of tailor made emailers to overcome this hurdle. How customized you can become will ensure, going forward, which messages get read and which don't.
There are a lot of theories around what is the best time to send emailers to your customers. It depends on the category you are in. Based on my personal experience I found Wednesdays and Thursdays to be the days with highest open rate on average. To not generalize too much, I have also seen high response during the weekends for certain product categories like movies and entertainment. For dot-coms in e-commerce, the second week of the month has proved more effective compared to other days in the month. The bottom line is that every marketer needs to understand these nuances of its category and derive its own benchmarks on timing of the delivery.
Integration With Other Digital Vehicles
All brands use multiple ways to reach its consumer segments through display, search, social, mobile, etc., there are synergies of using these channels with email marketing efforts. A user might interact with you in multiple ways. If you can build a profile based on those interactions, email marketing can be even more effective and efficient. A report from VerticalResponse suggests that music and consumer electronics category deliver better open rates for emailers when the social data is used.
Email Marketing and Mobile
In a country where the mobile subscriber base is over 850 million and around 150 million mobile Internet users, mobile email is no longer a choice. Every marketer must start thinking about formatting the mailers to adapt to the portable screens given the amount of emails being read on the smaller screens. Some marketers believe that they only need to worry about very high-end phones like iPhone etc but Android claimed nearly half of the smartphone market in 2011. Basically your message should be able to adapt itself to multiple platforms. These days, the majority of the smartphones use a mobile email client like MailDroid, Apple Mail, or GMail, and open rates, clickthroughs, etc. are trackable.
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RP Singh is a digital marketing specialist with over 12 years of new media experience working in India, China, and Southeast Asia. As the CEO of Sirez Group, RP looks after 4 companies under Sirez: Sirez Infosystems, MRP Digital, Apptology and Sample&Try. He has worked at leading media networks WPP and Starcom MediaVest Group including organizations such as GroupM, Starcom, Ogilvy, Trident Group, and Smile Interactive. RP has worked on brands like P&G, General Motors, Amex, Diageo, Qualcomm, Nokia, Lufthansa, Pepsico, Economist, British Airways, GSK, Tourism New Zealand, HSBC, Ford, Perfetti Van Melle, Akzo Nobel, Apollo Tyres, GE Money and Hero Honda among others. He believes digital is about the consumer, not technology. RP has trained over 600 marketers in digital marketing so far and also a member of advisory council for World Brand Congress. A lead trainer and mentor for afaqs Campus, an active blogger, and a visiting faculty at leading B Schools.
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