I recently took my son to his first NFL football game. It was a typical game in that 65,000+ rabid football fans were all donning their team color - green in this case. My son mentioned that one of his classmates was at the game and I joked with him and said look around, he's the one wearing the green hat. In a sea of similarity, how could one particular person possibly be noticed? The exchange got me thinking about email marketing and, in particular, the "cheap email" effect.
Your email inbox is not unlike a football stadium packed with fans dressed in the same color. With so many people wearing the team colors, it's nearly impossible to pick out any one person in a crowd. Today, virtually every company from mom and pop businesses to global enterprises have access to inexpensive email marketing tools. This access to cheap email has encouraged any would-be marketer to rampantly email blast anyone with a valid inbox.
The practice known as batch and blast is not new by any means and, in fact, has merit in certain cases with certain content. Email marketing as a whole continues to reign supreme in campaign ROI and while social media channels get more ink these days, few could argue the value and ROI of effective email campaigns. But like the fans in a stadium, our inboxes today resemble a crowd of offers that all look the same. And like the football stadium example, it's very hard to get noticed in crowd.
Offers for webinars, white papers, case studies, product data sheets and news releases from every vendor with a list inundate the buyers inbox. Email clients are taking note and are proactively trying to sift through these messages for us. Gmail is a great example of how email offers are being auto-sorted to tabs that the average person may look at, even if only to "clean out" on a weekly basis.
At no other time in my more than fifteen years of running email marketing programs for companies have I seen it more difficult to get to the inbox and then get your message noticed, opened and clicked. Open rates as a whole are trending down, while email usage is trending up at a ridiculous rate. Go back to the beginning of this paragraph and re-read it. In the time it takes you to get to this sentence, over 20 million emails have been sent.
However, all is not lost. In fact, thanks in large part to social and the vast array of content that marketers produce today, email is going through a renaissance. Gone are the days where batch and blast represents the primary communication medium. While it's a good supplemental prospecting tactic, nurture-based email programs that trigger communications based on behavior are rising to the top of the marketers list of primary campaign tactics.
While they can be complex (which depends in large part on the preferences of the creator), most often -- and for marketers just getting their feet wet with nurture campaigns -- they are elegantly simple. With marketing automation systems, when someone interacts with the website, an email, landing page or social post, they are cookied. This first-party cookie then identifies the ongoing website visits of a prospect, down to the page level. By understanding which content someone is accessing on the site, marketers can trigger more personal and relevant communications within a window of time where interest is highest. These email communications are one-to-one and highly personalized. Because of this, they have a tendency to get noticed in the sea of green hats, so to speak.
The benefits of triggered communications based on behavior are far reaching. Buyers will view your materials in a much different light and open rates for these types of communications show open rates that are five to fifteen times greater than batch and blast communications.
The path forward for email marketing is very clear. Listen to what buyers are telling you through their digital interactions and respond accordingly. You'll be rewarded with higher response rates and more engaged prospects!
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Kevin Miller is the Chief Marketing Officer at Salesfusion and has over 23 years of experience in marketing automation, CRM, marketing campaign management and database marketing.
March 19, 2014