Taking a Second Look at E-Mail

When I started to write this column, I ran into a problem. I couldn’t think of anything exciting in e-mail to write about. Call it e-mail marketer writer’s block. This got me thinking: Has e-mail marketing gotten to a point where we have nothing new to talk about? Has this industry matured enough that we now just need to focus on the tried-and-true acquire, convert, retain principals?

Then it hit me.

The e-mail marketing industry could never land in this type of rut. As the backbone of all other digital media, our e-mail efforts will keep growing and evolving as new technologies do. For those of us who choose to ignore the power that e-mail marketing can have as an influencer for other channels (like social and mobile), e-mail will remain a fairly cut-and-dried direct marketing practice. The rest of us, though, have reason to celebrate.

Here’s a list of some newer aspects of e-mail you should be aware of. If you haven’t considered these as part of your strategy, what are you waiting for?

Acquisition-focused upgrades:

  • Tiered performance pricing for prospecting

  • E-mail as a branding tool
  • E-mail to feed into social networks
  • Mobile e-mail

Conversion:

  • Social/micro-messaging options

  • Channel/source optimization
  • Preference center enhancements
  • Win-back advancements

Retainment:

  • Partner-oriented value add

  • Inventory management
  • Co-op marketing
  • Social influencing
  • Video in e-mail

Out of all of these new initiatives, my recent favorite is partner oriented-value add. This is where customer e-mail programs include some type of unanticipated reward for reading the e-mail. Unanticipated rewards have been around a long time in marketing but have rarely been used in e-mail. That’s because e-mail marketing was historically such a high conversion channel that this tactic was rarely needed. But in today’s world of inbox overload and channel integration, e-mail needs a little sweetener. Including a valuable, unanticipated reward packs a one-two punch. Here’s how:

In a recent column, I wrote about a new segment in our e-mail lists: the social influencers. These people aren’t always your best click-and-buy people, but they are the best people to share, post, and talk about your recent e-mail effort (which results in even more sales than if they bought themselves).

When these people receive an e-mail from you that contains an unanticipated reward, something that they enjoy, you’ll increase their level of loyalty to your brand. That’s important. Equally important, or even more so, these people will share that great news and your generosity with others through social networks and online water-cooler conversations.

This opens up a whole new world of opportunity for you to attract new customers and increase revenues simply by adding unexpected value into your messaging.

Yes, the world of e-mail is nowhere near tired and old just yet. As new developments and trends rise, e-mail is right there to help maximize exposure and monetize results.

I love being a part of the e-mail industry. Don’t you?

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you from May 5, 2009, to July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 16 events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing.

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