Is EMail Marketing Dead?

Brands have used email marketing for years as part of their marketing communications. For brands that don’t sell directly to consumers, email can provide a channel to establish a dialogue with consumers, and to provide content that could be shared with others, so it was “social” before social networks came along. With the rapid growth of Facebook, brand marketers sometimes ask whether they investments in building an email database and creating email content still make sense. My answer is a hearty YES! Email continues to be an important part of a brand’s social marketing strategy. Here’s why:

1. Email is still growing; consumers still choose to receive it. While many consumers are increasing using social networks for connecting with friends and families, permission-based email subscriptions continue to grow. This implies that consumers are looking for relevant information from brands. By carefully segmenting content and monitoring consumer response, brands can provide real value and information that consumers are seeking.

2. Email is a hub for brand communications. Email provides the brand a unique ability to connect the consumer to all elements of the marketing plan: the brand can send consumers to a Facebook app, share a YouTube video, invite them to an event in the “real” world. Mike Bloxham from the Center for Media Design at Ball State University calls email “the connective tissue in the media mix based on the ubiquity of its use, the amount of time people use email throughout the day, and the ability for marketers to proactively communicate with their customers through the medium.”

3. Email is relevant to the consumer.┬áBecause the marketer controls the database and can track the behavior and interests of email subscribers, the brand is able to create different email content for various consumer groups, providing the opportunity to be more relevant to each consumer. At present, Facebook messages on the news feed can only be segmented by geography and language. Facebook can now function as a “reception room” for potential consumers; it’s an easy and light format that allows consumers to easily get to know the brand. Once the consumer has decided that they want deeper, more personal contact with the brand, links between social they can sign up to receive email messages that will include personalized content that is right for them.

4. Email remains important to users of social channels and mobile devices. Nielsen studies indicate that users of social channels are also heavy users of email. ExactTarget found that 58 percent of online consumers check their email first, compared to the 11 percent who start their day by checking Facebook. ComScore reported that mail dominates time spent on mobile devices and computers.

Email is alive and well, and an important part of the social marketing strategy for consumer brands. Email is one part of the social CRM toolkit, allowing brands to build strong and enduring relationships with consumers.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Promoted Trends: What We Learned

When the Jack Daniel’s brand became the first spirits brand to advertise on Twitter, we had one clear objective: we wanted to build awareness for the brand’s first new product in more than a decade. While many brands have used promoted trends to become part of the consumer conversation around trending topics, that conversation would be an ancillary benefit for us. We wanted the reach that a promoted trend could give us in exposing the new product, so our topic was #JackDanielsHoney. Here’s what we learned:

1. The objective needs to drive the strategy and tactics, as always. The strongest tool in our arsenal to build awareness for our new product is the strength of the Jack Daniel’s trademark. It had real stopping power on Twitter. When people saw the brand name in the words used for the trending topic, they noticed it. When we experimented with a topic that strayed from our awareness objective towards a conversation objective, and didn’t include the Jack Daniel’s brand name, we lost momentum. If the objective is awareness, use the brand name!

2. Keep it simple; don’t try to do too much at once. In a medium that boils everything down into 140 characters, folks aren’t expecting or wanting deep engagement. They want quick and relevant information. Our tweets included links to our Facebook page containing videos and a “story”; what many folks wanted was a simple explanation of the product. We should have sent them to a simple landing page with product photos and information, with links elsewhere if they wanted to go deeper.

3. Be flexible. Folks ended up using the words of our trending topic in ways we didn’t expect. And of course, that was great for us, because it did indeed create conversation, even though that wasn’t our primary objective. Some folks thought the product was a type of honey, and talked about putting it on their pancakes. Others thought it was meant to be used in answer to a female bartender, and still another group thought it was intended as a description of a southern woman. Each one of these threads gave us a chance to respond in a different way.

As Brian Phipps points out in this great post about Twitter strategy, twitter is a platform for shared discovery. Brands want to make sure that the discovery process is easy. And once they have discovered the brand, conversations can begin.