It’s a great time to be an email marketer. While email has been overshadowed by flashier emerging marketing channels for some time, a new perspective on its role in facilitating cross-channel digital marketing puts it right back into the limelight. One of the most popular discussions taking place among marketers is how email addresses themselves can be the key to understanding and reaching individuals across an ever-broadening set of digital interaction channels.
At a recent industry event, Brian Anderson of LUMA Partners spoke about “The Changing Digital Marketing Technology Landscape.” Anderson affirmed once again that email is the highest ROI channel and shared insight into how email’s value extends well beyond direct ROI. He described how a person’s email address is now the “connective tissue” that enables marketers and advertisers to coordinate multi-channel, multi-stage marketing engagements.
Leading marketers now understand the value of an email address is not just in opening up a line of communication with a customer; it’s also as an effective means for targeting and attribution across alternate digital channels.
Even more recently, Dave Hendricks, president of LiveIntent, pondered the question “Is Email the Missing Link?” One of his most salient points was this: “The most important element of email seems to be the least exciting to so many current email marketers: the data.” The email address itself, and the behavioral data associated with it, are incredibly valuable in ways outside of the traditional email communication channel. Their use in media and advertising is now emerging, where smart email marketers need to start thinking differently about their email data.
Email marketers must recognize their new role across the wider organization and the critical new part they now play in improving customer experience and engagement. While most email marketers have long been obsessed with the results driven through the channel, there are now new areas where they can focus their time and energy.
List Building Beyond the Permission
Since the dawn of email, marketers have been obsessed with securing permission to engage consumers through the channel – getting to that critical opt-in. While this core fact is unchanged, the email address now plays a broader and very valuable new role within your organization. Even if some consumers prefer not to engage with your email communications, their email addresses can still be the key to reaching them. Building custom audiences in Facebook, tying together behavioral data from a variety of sources, or figuring out how multi-channel interactions are impacting your customer engagements, can all be done based on that key email address held within your systems. Managing an email list can deliver incredible value to your organization, even if that person never happens to engage with a single email.
Many of today’s marketing organizations are still highly siloed in their approaches and execution. Now more than ever, it’s critical to break down these internal silos and create true cross-channel orchestration to improve how we interact with our customers. As the holder of a key piece of information, email marketers are in a perfect position to lead us to this new coordinated future, where email address can be used to target display ads, tie together behavioral data, or even send a targeted offer.
Building Cross-Channel Contextual Data
“Context,” along with developing contextual marketing engagements, is shaping up as a key theme of 2015 for most marketing departments. Building a contextual understanding of consumers, and engaging with them on their terms, is changing how companies interact with, and create value for, customers.
Understanding true customer context requires bringing many types of data together, from a wide variety of sources. Context for a customer is comprised both of the disposition and situation of the individual consumer, as well as the disposition and situation of your business at the time of engagement (see image below). Email marketers need to develop true contextual insights and understand that the email address is the key to bringing the required data together.
Email marketers know that email is not dead or dying. In fact, it’s becoming more critical than ever. Email is not just the most productive channel for digital engagement, it increasingly provides the means for coordinating digital engagements and tracking their effectiveness.
An email address is the most personal, permanent, and portable means of identifying someone online. Email marketers must understand their new role as the keymaster for digital engagements and use their power wisely to benefit both their business and their customers.
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