Category Archives: Email Marketing

Email Marketing

The end of email marketing is nigh

Or at the very least it needs to adapt or it’s going to die.

Given that an open rate of 20% is considered an industry high (more data from MailChimp, in case you were in any doubt), 80% of the emailed population don’t get around to open these sterling email missives. Now let’s be conservative and say half of them have either switched email, gone on vacation, departed their mortal soul or not reported back the open rate for some technical reason, that still leaves around 40% of all those emailed who consider the message spam.

In the past, that has been a hit the email marketer has been willing to take, given that this was primarily a numbers game and only a small percentage of responses was needed to declare victory on a campaign.

(image courtesy of Google)

However that small percentage is very likely to shrink given a couple of recently announced features. Both Google’s Priority Inbox and Facebook’s updated messaging system prioritize the display of mail from friends and respected sources. This could have a significant impact on bulk mailings: rather than these messages appearing as part of the stream of messages that makes up an inbox, these messages could be considered unwanted and get buried. In effect, this will slash the open rates from email marketing campaigns. Given that the Gmail and Facebook systems are used largely by consumers, you can expect to see a hit on B2C campaigns first.

Now is this only a B2C issue? I suspect not. Most companies acknowledge that email puts a considerable dent into productivity of their workforce. As corporate email vendors start offering companies the ability to make email communications more efficient, expect to see the performance of traditional B2B email marketing campaigns tank.

Earning respect

‘Respect’ is a key buzzword in all of this. Email marketers will have to have more respect for their constituents’ inboxes. They will have to engage through other channels (like social media) to earn the respect of the target audience so their brand hits the priority list.

They will also need to ensure their messages are more relevant. Marketing analytics tools (a subset of the emerging business analytics sector) can be used to look at past data on the behavior of the target audience to pinpoint those most likely to open an email and respond. For instance, a mailing can just be sent to those individuals who have clicked on a related link in a past campaign.

These same tools allow for more customer-centric marketing practices such as creating content using messages that marketers know have proven to have the strongest resonance. Relevance breeds respect and if you can become that ‘respected source’ to your target audience, you stand a much better chance of having continued success with email marketing campaigns in the future.

So, pardon my apocalyptic hyperbole, but be aware that recent developments in the email industry have the potential to shake down the marketing industry in 2011 and beyond.

LinkedIn tops the list of top social media used by B2B marketers

LinkedIn is cited as a key tactic used by marketers to reach a B2B audience, according to a recent study by BtoB and the Association of National Advertisers.

Generally, marketers are making a stronger push into social media, with 57% saying they are either currently utilizing social media, as opposed to 15% in an earlier study.

new_media_platforms_b2b_ma2

(Source: “Harnessing the Power of Newer Media Platforms for More Effective Marketing” survey)

I’m surprised to see that corporate blogging falls further down the list. Is this because marketers in this space aren’t the people who can maintain these blogs? Does this task fall to subject matter experts who might be in another part of the organization.

Interesting to see that search engine optimization outranks paid search marketing: a sign of the times given the tight marketing budgets?

More information

TechTarget Content Strategy Workshop

Bill Crowley, VP, Group Publisher, Data Center Media, TechTarget, ran this lively discussion on producing good online content for IT professionals.

Get your head around the prospect

The Heath brothers call it the curse of knowledge. Whatever way you frame it, there is always a problem when an expert tries to communicate to a novice… empathy towards the uninitiated is hard to maintain.  This is particularly true of documents produced for IT prospects: the audience may not understand how your company’s solutions relate to their problem.

You need to remember that it’s about the problem – not about you! So work on really discovering what is the problem – not just going overboard describing all your bells and whistles. As most sales guys will tell you, the hardest task is finding people with the problem and the budget. Remember that most prospects have pain points – understand these and put forward a solution.

Create ‘change the game’ content

If you are developing content for the awareness or interest stage, you need to explain why you are different. While this is not great froma direct response perspective, it can really help you develop a niche and stand out.

Headlines sell the story

Think of where your target is in the buying cycle and frame your headline accordingly. The categories:

  • Awareness
  • Interest/tech explanation
  • Solution/product information

Remember that people are more afraid of failure than they are craving success – play on this. Show how your product reduces risk (could this mean a move away from the often-overused ROI arguments?).

Like a good journalist, make sure there is some action in the headline. Breathe life into it.

Measurement, tracking and nurturing

Check out what is the most popular content for the month. See what is working – both in terms of headlines and content. This information is available on TechTarget sites. However, make sure you don’t judge all content equally – product/solution assets: these have a much lower volume, however given their position in the buying cycle, generally attract higher quality traffic.

Finally, remember that if you do have content for the different stages in the buying cycle, you can leverage this: if someone takes an awareness stage asset, run a nurturing program and use a solution stage asset to make further contact.

BTW, if you want more information, check out the presentations from the TechTarget Online ROI Summit in San Francisco.