Email is the Most Effective Digital Marketing Channel

Email remains an incredible standout as a digital marketing channel. So, what are you waiting for?

Part 1: Email vs Social Media

You might find this surprising, but email marketing is a very effective tool when it comes to communication and sales. Email lists work better and faster in terms of marketing when compared with social media channels by a wide margin. Because email lets you to engage with your audience on a higher level, it outperforms social in regards to reach, personalization and content value. In fact, it has the highest ROI of any marketing channel. Typically, email campaigns have 50 – 100 times the click through rate of Facebook and Twitter.

The Facebook and Twitter statistics cited above include comments, likes, shares and retweets, which don’t necessarily equate to a click through to your website, much less a conversion. That makes the click through rate for email marketing that much more impressive. Email just plain yields higher conversion rates, especially if you have a well segmented, opt-in list to send your marketing emails to. According to the Data & Marketing Association, 66% of online consumers made a purchase in response to an email marketing message.

But the much lower return from active social media engagement compared with opt-in email lists doesn’t mean you should abandon social. It means you should be leveraging your social channels to boost your email marketing efforts by encouraging your followers to click through to your website and sign up for your eNewsletter. That’s a helpful way to build a solid customer email subscription list.

It’s this simple: Email campaigns will get you noticed more effectively than social. On social channels your content competes with the content from other user feeds. as such, the only way to have meaningful reach on social is to pay for promoted posts. Meanwhile, people are used to getting offers and information via email—it’s the most used channel in marketing. If you plan your email marketing strategy effectively, you should get at least a 20% open rate and a click through rate of 2-4% or higher. By comparison Facebook’s engagement rate is between 2-6%.

Getting Started: Planning

Considering email marketing is the most powerful channel to reach your target audience, spending time defining what you want to achieve before diving in is crucial. So, set some objectives. It’s often a good idea to align campaign goals with your company’s overall marketing goals. Depending on how big your company is, this may require some discussion with sales and other departments. You’ll need to pinpoint what you want to achieve. Awareness? Trust? Persuasion? An offer that leads to purchase? Who is your target audience? Where are they in your sales funnel? What content will you be sending and directing them to? What is your measurement of success? Answering these questions will give you a clearer picture of what to send and who to send it to. Doing that kind of groundwork is an essential part of creating focused, high-performing email campaigns that can achieve your marketing objectives.

Building the Email List

An email list is a list of email addresses that you have permission to contact. Building a strong subscription list is a key to reaching your marketing goals. You can start your list by importing known contacts, then by focusing on bringing in new subscribers. Be sure to keep your list accurate and up-to-date. Email addresses can become invalid and that leads to a large bounce rate.

Perform the following tasks to ensure the optimal value for your list:

  1. Check for misspellings and typos such as tom@alocom or tara@gmailcom.
  2. Remove distribution and system email addresses such as or
  3. Manage your hard and soft bounces.
    • Soft Bounce – the email address was valid and the email message reached the recipient’s mail server. However, it bounced back because: The mailbox was full (the user is over their contractual quota), the server was down, the message was too large for the recipient’s inbox.
    • Hard Bounce – an email message that has been returned to the sender because the recipient’s address is invalid. A hard bounce might occur because the domain name doesn’t exist or because the recipient is unknown. Remove hard bounces from your list immediately. They affect your email reputation—too many could lead to ISPs blocking future emails.
  4. Monitor feedback loops – Identify complainers and immediately remove them from your list. ISPs monitor complaint numbers, which also affects email reputation.
  5. Remove inactive subscribers – Improves ROI by ensuring that lists only contain subscribers who are engaged. Before removal try a re-engagement campaign to regain their interest by offering incentives, asking them if they want to remain on your list, or informing them that their subscription period is ending and asking if they want to renew their opt-in.

Building a large email list can be done by providing simple subscription opportunities and offering enticing incentives. Think about the opportunities you currently have on your website to start capturing subscriptions. For example:

  • During the checkout process you can require subscription/sign up.
  • Use the contact form that already exists on your website by filtering contacts into your email subscription list.
  • Create a form on your blog to collect email subscriptions.
  • Add a sign-up form to your Facebook page. Most email services offer this integration and it easily lets your visitors subscribe to your email marketing list. Or simply add a CTA button at the top of your Facebook Business page and link it to a landing page that requires an email address. Be sure to promote give-to-get offers that require email address submissions in exchange for something of value. Don’t forget to include social sharing buttons on landing pages and thank-you-for-signing-up pages that encourage your leads to share your offers.
  • Tweet about your list and reply to people that tweet about your company. Incentivize users to sign up and receive great content through your website link and Twitter Lead Generation Cards.
  • Add a link to your email signature that will direct people you interact with to your email subscription landing page. This is a great opportunity to collect high-quality email subscribers.
  • There are many ways to gain email subscriptions in person. Ask for customer’s email address at the point of sale. If you don’t have the technology to perform this task at that time simply put out a pen and paper and ask people to sign up there or use an iPad App. There are apps that will provide a simple and fun user experience for those who sign up.

About those incentives: Remember, you want to gain new subscriptions, plus retain the subscriptions you already have. To do this you have to provide value. For example, social media accounts managing software provider, Buffer, offers compelling content and gains 1000+ subscriptions each week. What kind of relevant, value-added content can you offer? The possibilities are endless: Provide tips and tricks of your trade or industry as a subject matter expert…Offer exclusive early access promotions…If you sell a products or services, offer discounts and special offers or offer free/express shipping upgrades—this doesn’t just boost sign ups, it also a motivates purchases.

Your takeaway: Email campaigns work better than social media for marketing. So, start building a list of potential leads and customers! In part 2, I’ll talk about creating email campaigns.

Reading about best practices is nice. Practicing them is even nicer.

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