It's hard to believe, but it's already been two decades since email arrived on the scene as the "new big thing" in communication. What was once a worldwide fad is now simply commonplace, and meanwhile, we're discovering seemingly countless other means of keeping in touch with others.
Email is no longer the subject of public focus the way it once was - not considering that text messaging, mobile app-based communications and social media interactions are as big as they are today. Typing a message on a computer and clicking "send" is old news.
Except here's the thing - in the marketing world, email is still relevant. Amid all these changes in the way people communicate, there are still a multitude of reasons that emailing people is the best way to coordinate your direct marketing campaigns.
Business 2 Community recently published some illuminating findings about just how effective email can be in marketing today. The news source drew upon some recent research from McKinsey and Company which reveals that email marketing is far from dead - in fact, it's 40 times more likely than Facebook and Twitter combined to convert people into new customers for a business.
Ideally, emails would work in conjunction with other online content. For example, if you rope someone in with an email, then get them to follow a link to a landing page on your website, you've brought that person into the sales funnel, putting them well on their way to becoming a paying customer. McKinsey found that using links to customized landing pages can increase conversion rates by more than 25 percent.
In broad terms, Business 2 Community explained that there are three factors that drive effective use of email marketing - relevancy of content, timing of messages and frequency. But as technology evolves and people find more and more channels available to them, those three values are no longer enough. To truly adapt to these competitive high-tech times, you need to adapt, says D.J. Waldow, digital marketing evangelist at Marketo.
"The inbox is getting crowded these days," Waldow told the news source. "You get updates from social media sites, personal emails, work emails and daily deal emails. All sorts of different content is coming into our inboxes. If your email is not relevant and if it's not targeted, timely and valuable, people are opting out."
There are three big steps companies are taking these days to sharpen their email marketing skills.
Adapting to changing technologies
The growth of technology has enabled companies to do a lot more with their marketing emails. They can better target the right demographics by using big data analytics, and they can figure out exactly what products and services people will want at any given moment. Thanks to recent improvements in data enhancement and information management, it's now feasible for companies to tap into consumer insight in real time and use it to influence their email marketing approaches.
Embracing mobile, not fighting it
Some email marketers are of the mind that mobile devices and apps are their enemy - if people are communicating via their smartphones instead of their inboxes, this is a death knell. Instead of thinking this way, email marketers can take a different approach - embracing mobile. By making their emails visible on multiple screens and highly interactive with other channels, they can join the mobile marketing world in 2014.
Complementing email with other components
Email no longer exists on an island. Even if people love using their email accounts, they're not going to use email only. They're naturally going to branch out. That's why it's important that marketers complement their emails with other content - including mobile, social and more - that will further sate people's demands for information.