While email marketing remains a valuable tool for informing customers, it is no longer unique. As an accepted marketing medium, it does not automatically delight consumers. To make it effective, retailers have to get really good at email marketing, concluded a new study by Forrester Research Inc.
Consumers value email just as much as they do other marketing mediums, such as direct mail and television commercials, according to Shar VanBoskirk, a Forrester senior analyst who specializes in email issues. "Email has reached a maturity in terms of consumer penetration," she said.
The research shows that 97 percent of online consumers use it, and 97 percent of marketers use, or plan to use, email marketing this year. Research also shows that 77 percent of consumers feel they get too many email marketing messages, and 72 percent delete most email without reading it, VanBoskirk said. "For marketers, this means they can't just do email marketing and expect it to get them noticed. They must be the best at it, in order to get consumers to value their messages," she said.
Being the best means innovating. And many experts point to the practice of batch and blast as endangering email marketing innovators. "It's so easy to dump five million messages using the email medium. A retailer might do this because it needs to make a sales objective for the week and it knows a certain percentage of consumers will respond," said DaveLewis, VP of Market Development at StrongMail Systems Inc.
"Where that backfires, though, is while there will be some people who click through, enabling you to meet your sales objective, there also will be people who make decisions to unsubscribe or complain, or simply delete your emails. This affects your reputation and your ability to really reach customers." Too many marketers use email this way, as a broadcast medium, Lewis contends. In doing so, they overlook narrower, customized, more effective uses of email messages.
"You can send out five million messages, all the same, all at the same time. But the technology and the medium permit you to customize each message personally to a customer, relevant to their online behavior, all centered on your brand," he said. "Marketers still see the Holy Grail as list size, when it actually is the percentage of customers on your list who are engaged with your brand."
This article was edited from a story on InternetRetailer.com.
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