How Powerful Is E-Mail?

How powerful is email? It’s a question I’m often asked by clients, colleagues, and friends. People are curious and eager to debate whether email plays a serious role in influencing loyalty and purchase decisions.

My answer to this question hasn’t changed in 10 years. There are only four ways to communicate with someone: personally, in writing, over the phone, or digitally. E-mail is core of digital direct communication.

As the world continues to evolve and receipt of digital communications becomes available in many forms outside of the standard inbox (RSS, text, blogs, etc.), some people forget email is still the backbone of these digital communications. That fact can never be changed.

So how powerful is email really? Using outgoing or marketing email in your strategy may not always be front and center, but I promise you any digital communication efforts you employ can use email and email best practices to help evolve and shape success.

Fighting the Battle

For years, email marketing experts have been fighting a battle over how to best communicate and educate others on email’s power. Quite honestly, we’ve been struggling. Much of what we do has been commoditized in price or strength. Many of our practices have been degraded to tactics. The articles and columns we write are often taken out of context.

Until now.

Over the last few months, a group of email and interactive visionaries, leaders, and experts have been discussing this challenge and seeking a way to proactively address it. We’ve done it! We founded an organization called The Email Experience Council (EEC).

The Email Experience Council

The EEC’s mission is to enhance the image and celebrate the ROI (define) value of email marketing through the proliferation of email marketing best practices, trends, and cutting-edge technologies. We’ll demonstrate our success by conducting a broad series of email initiatives for a variety of organizations that highlight the positive impact and importance of email as a critical and viable marketing tool.

For our first project, we partnered with a nonprofit organization, The Ryan Andrew Kaiser Memorial Foundation (RAKMF), which has two main goals (as posted on its site):

  • Financially assist local families with critically ill children, who may not otherwise be able to afford proper healthcare

  • Provide grants and funding to doctors and hospital groups that specialize in the care and cure of pediatric heart patients

Who’s Involved in the EEC?

Pulling together an initiative to demonstrate email’s power on a global basis has generated quite a bit of interest from all types of companies and organizations. Over 21 organizations have joined the EEC. Some members directly involved in the RAKMF project include: Ogilvy One, Gather.com, Kruger Direct/Interactive, Truverse, adknowledge, Pivotal Veracity, Lyris, eROI, and VentureDirect’s Xact Mail division.

Why are they involved? It’s best to hear from some of them directly.

“[We’re” excited to be a part of this program,” said Jim Scova, Xactmail’s VP of list services sales. “We certainly understand the benefits of email marketing. We look forward to letting folks know that this is a legitimate marketing tool that when used properly can generate substantial results for the advertisers. If people are exposed to some of the positives of our business, perceptions could change as it is realized that a few rotten apples have besmirched an entire industry. We are also extremely happy to work on behalf of such a good cause.”

Said Michael Perham, adknowledge business development manager, “Using behavioral targeting, advertisers and companies like the RAKMF, regardless of size, can get additional traffic beyond search by reaching customers when they are mostly likely to purchase. Adknowledge provides businesses of any size and category an additional marketing outlet outside of search engines to help them get customers. The company uses a behavioral targeting technology that results in more relevant ad placements to consumers when they’re most interested in a product or service. We are a proud member of the E-mail Experience Council and looking forward to supporting the mission by working with the RAKMF.”

“As we have witnessed firsthand from positive experiences with many of our 5,000 customers, email has become an indispensable tool for marketers,” stated Dave Dabbah, director of marketing for Lyris Technologies. “We are excited to play a part in the E-mail Experience Council as Lyris’ email solutions are ripe to support the Ryan Andrew Kaiser Memorial Foundation’s important work in pediatric heart healthcare.”

“Gather connects people around their shared interests and passions,” said Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Gather.com. “We are home to thousands of parents, grandparents, cousins, brothers, and sisters. Family health, especially the health of the young among us, is a common and important topic in our community.”

And finally, Andy Kaiser, founder RAKMF, stated: “I am thrilled with the support, guidance and leadership the E-mail Experience Council is providing to us. They have been amazing. In the first week, the RAKMF began to see an influx of activity at a rate we hadn’t seen in the past, including donations, run registrations, and emails from families who have lived through the same type of devastation we have. I feel lucky to have found a way to facilitate growth for the RAKMF and truly make a difference.”

The Future Power of E-Mail

Will the EEC be able to effectively demonstrate the power of email? We’re going to put one heck of an effort into making a difference. If you’d like to see a full list of members or request additional information regarding the EEC, check out our site or send me an email.

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

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