How Long Can C-Level Execs Ignore E-Mail?

Not to sound like an e-mail fanatic or anything, but were corporate executives asleep at the wheel when e-mail invaded the digital realm?

Do CEOs and CMOs realize the power and control e-mail quietly gained while we were all paying attention to TV ads, radio spots, blogs, search, and mobile mania?

Here’s a message to all the C-levels out there who have any type of business that reaches customers: It’s time to wake up and put on your dancing shoes. E-mail is back and she’s ready to party!

If you’re an interactive or e-mail marketing manager or you work at an e-mail service bureau or agency, chances are you already know what I’m talking about. Your analytics teams clearly demonstrate e-mail continues to drive the highest ROI (define) at the lowest cost. Adding a very subtle up- or cross-sell message to thank-you and confirmation e-mail is one of the best ways to access free (yes, free) media placement to an extremely targeted list of fans. If you read customer service e-mail or replies to marketing campaigns, there are tons of examples of customers either proudly touting the benefits your organization offers or offering clearly defined suggestions on how to improve your service and strengthen their loyalty.

Many questions I receive in response to these columns and through the Email Experience Council (EEC) are from people not only searching for solutions to e-mail related challenges but also looking for reasoning and justification to gain them support for changes they feel are critical to improving e-mail programs.

Over the past two years, e-mail has quietly evolved into the backbone of digital communications. Think about it: You can’t complete online commerce without e-mail to wrap it up (usually two to three messages). You can’t visit social networking groups and post comments to blogs without e-mail notifications. You can’t get access to most case studies, white papers, or other cool tools without providing your e-mail address. And who can overlook the fact that without an electronic mail infrastructure there would be no mobile or SMS (define) messaging?

E-mail is powerful. It pretty much owns the digital landscape. This is true around worldwide. In many cases, research has shown e-mail accounts for over 60 percent (sometimes as high as 90 percent) of all marketing messages. Yet it continues to be the redheaded stepchild of the digital realm.

There are many theories why C-level executives haven’t yet realized the value e-mail offers their organizations. Whatever the reason, many top executives don’t fully understand the broad implications and impact e-mail has on an organization; how it weaves together multiple lines of communication, social networking, and marketing; how it transforms one-off campaign messaging into ongoing dialogues; how it builds advocates; and how it has the potential to break relationships if not used correctly. Without C-level support, funding and operational support for e-mail is often left out in the cold.

How do you reach your C-level to prove e-mail’s value and importance? The EEC will launch a client-led investigation called “Selling Email to Your CEO.” This series will be aimed at answering three critical questions:

  • How must companies evolve to keep the customer at the center of the multiple e-mail and digital communications they receive?

  • How do companies organize to ensure the brand experience is optimal for these customers and prospects?
  • What will the conversation look like that gets a C-level executive to agree to invest in the right organization, platforms, and so forth for e-mail to succeed?

If you have thoughts or ideas on this topic, please send them along. Our collective voices can help change the e-mail world.

Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.

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