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April 4, 2019

In the Broad Landscape of Digital Options, Email Marketing Remains King

Email is a direct marketing superpower, but it’s not your grandpa’s email anymore. Grandpa ran through the early email landscape scooping up leads at will with not a care in sight. There are many more pitfalls now and with government regulation, social stigma, spam traps, blacklisting and general oversaturation, email marketing can sometimes seem like a less than ideal method to reach a target audience.  

At the same time, social media marketing, across a variety of new and shiny platforms, can seem enticing, after all, everyone wants to be marketing on the “next big thing.” While other marketing channels can appear to be good options, when it comes down to the numbers, email marketing is still the best bang for your marketing buck. The big difference is now you only get rewarded if you know what you’re doing. ROI in email marketing remains high because email is ubiquitous, convenient, extremely low cost and highly scalable.  

Every hot new message delivery system either gets replaced by a newer system or gets used so much that the target audience gets desensitized. Email marketing has diminished in its effectiveness in some respects over the last decade, but it still holds the highest ROI of any marketing channel.1 Social media has cut into this some, but social media doesn’t have the 1-to-1 relationship that email has; a much higher percentage of emails are viewed than social posts.  It’s estimated that when it comes to marketing, email is nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.2 People are twice as likely to sign up for a business’s mailing list or newsletter than to interact with a Facebook ad.3  

Email is effective partially because it works on your schedule and doesn’t get offended if you say no or ignore it.  We all have a phone in our pocket, but would you rather get a call from a sales person or an email?  An email sits in your inbox until you’re ready to look at it and it doesn’t demand interaction or a response.  By 2020 half of the worlds’ population will use email,4 and the ones who aren’t using email aren’t shunning it by choice. Email is your digital home. Social sites and all other marketing channels have boundaries—be it geographical, topical, or generational—but email is a standard platform used by everyone worldwide.  In fact, a lack of email address is a barrier to entry for nearly every online community in use today.  

Email marketing extends beyond people who sign up for your newsletter. You can expect a higher response rate and overall interaction from your company’s opt-in newsletters, but those contacts are already interacting with your brand. To generate new business and maximize growth you need to be in front of people who aren’t already listening to you. The most effective way to do this is to purchase a list.  While lists purchased from a list vendor will always give lower open and click rates versus your pre-existing opt-in mailing list, they still have the best ROI of any new business generation channel.  There are many issues to consider when marketing to a purchased list, and though it is a very powerful tool, when used improperly it can cause problems. 

The first thing to avoid when purchasing a list is purchasing inaccurate or outdated information. Emails for contacts who haven’t been at the job for years (or even one day) don’t do you any good. Using inaccurate emails is far worse for your campaign than someone simply not receiving your message. Sending to emails that are no longer active will hurt your sender reputation and cause good emails to get filtered out of the inbox and into spam folders.

Email sent to the wrong person with an irrelevant message for their needs can result in complaints that hurt your ability to deliver emails to inboxes even more. It’s important that your message and data is highly targeted to avoid spamming irrelevant companies and contacts. So not only is it important that the email is accurate but also that the other targeting information (industry, title, company size, etc.) is correct. When purchasing a list, make sure you get samples from several vendors first and check them for accuracy.  

A reliable data company will verify its emails every 30 to 90 days. There should be other verifications as well, since email verification alone is an inexact science. Ask any list vendor how often they verify their data and what verification steps are taken. A trustworthy list vendor will be able to answer this type of question.  If they stop at only email verification, you’ll likely find a high percentage of their emails are inaccurate.

Finally, once you have the list purchased and are ready to begin your email marketing campaign, make sure your message is clear, concise, and most importantly, follows the rules and regulations [of your country]. For new business generation, email marketing best practices include:

  • Relevant Subject Lines
  • Limited use of Images
  • Straightforward Messaging
  • Simple Call to Action Early in Emails
  • Identifying the Messaging as an ad
  • Including your Company’s Address in an Option to opt out

Email marketing is consistently cost effective, scalable, and accessible while remaining familiar and easy to use, so it is worth continuing to invest in, both financially, and investing the time to remain well versed on how to acquire a potential audience, and how to effectively and successfully reach that audience. 


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Sky Cassidy is the CEO of MountainTop Data and host of the If You Market podcast. He grew up in rural Northern California and moved to Los Angeles after college.  After a decade in the sales and marketing trenches and dabbling in the Southern California startup scene he took over as CEO of MountainTop Data, a provider of list and data services for B2B marketing.

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