by Martin Millican, President, Envoke
I recently met someone who worked for a large French multi-national corporation. When I mentioned I owned part of an email marketing company, his immediate response “that must be a tough business … I guess you can make money from existing revenue as the business dies”. He said that email was surely passé and being replaced by newer technology. When I asked him, “Like what?” his only response was that there had to be something new and revolutionary coming down the pipe that would make email marketing obsolete. In retrospect, I should have asked him whether the number of emails he gets today has gone up or down over the past five years. I suspect his answer would have been it had increased significantly.
His reaction to email is pretty common these days. The reason most cited? “My kids don’t use email at all – they just text and send messages through Facebook and Twitter.” What’s missing from this perspective is that these kids don’t have a job. I also send my friends and my kids messages through Facebook, but I send my clients and vendors messages via email. And my clients use it to engage potential customers, nurture the leads and convert them into sales.
We live in an age of “miracle and wonder” where innovation is coming at us at a fast and furious pace, particularly with respect to how we communicate. The focus on the “next big thing” has reached a point that it can blind us from our actual experience. The fact is, email will be with us for a very long time and the use of email as a marketing tool still has a long way to grow, particularly for organizations looking for cost-effective solutions that can be easily measured and linked directly to customer engagement and sales
Beyond B2B, email for the consumer market is also under appreciated. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review titled, Why Email is King by database marketing consultant Arthur Middleton Hughes talks about the return on investment that email offers for both online and offline marketing. Hughes writes that email marketing remains the best overall marketing bang for your buck when compared to all other media. One of the most important reasons? Customer intelligence.
Engagement is key to building customer intelligence, whether you’re selling soap or software. Email marketing, when done properly, helps you build a relationship with your customers that transcends the often fleeting nature of shiny new technology or the next big thing.
I look forward to the day I’m getting emails from my kids’ workplaces and not just tweets and Facebook updates.
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