What’s the highest-performing digital marketing channel? Is it Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? You may be surprised to know that yes, even in 2017, the tool that delivers the strongest return on investment for marketers is still email. With a median ROI of 122 percent, if done well it can be more effective per dollar for some organizations than other tactics.
Just a few years ago, experts were predicting email’s demise, but our old friend continues to chug along. Far from static, the channel is growing in market penetration – the base of adult email users in the United States will reach almost 204 million this year. Not only that, but it’s the method of communication 72 percent of adults prefer businesses use over social, direct mail, and other methods.
With so much going for email as an effective marketing channel, shouldn’t companies devote more attention to getting it right? The typical email tactic for a small or medium-sized company these days is to send out a newsletter every month or so. And that’s fine, as a start, and even better as part of your overall content marketing program.
But you could do so much more. Traditional email tools are only designed to take you so far. To really deliver what today’s customers expect, you need the twin pillars of segmentation and timeliness. A marketing automation platform delivers both of these.
Segmenting Your Email Marketing Audiences and Messaging
Email marketing today isn’t about “blasting”, or sending out generic messages to your whole list and hoping your content matters to at least some of them. Your subscribers want information that’s directly relevant to them. A Marketing Automation solution collects information over time, including pages visited on your website, form responses, email opens and clicks, and more. Using this data, you’ll have a much better idea of what a particular subscriber is interested in.
Building even the most basic of custom email lists in traditional tools is hard, because most of the time it’s a manual process and the amount of available information on your subscribers is limited. Segmentation with a Marketing Automation solution is much more capable because you have many data points over time and can assign your leads and customers to different email lists automatically based on their behaviors. Imagine being able to put your subscribers on an email list for the particular kinds of products they’ve been looking at on your website.
Even when you don’t have much information to go on – a new email subscriber, for example – being able to automatically assign contacts to your lists is incredibly valuable. Think of a scenario where you start each new subscriber on a “welcome” list that takes them through the basics about your company and products, or sends them some of your best past sales offers. Their reactions to these first offers can determine what longer-term list they get assigned to. Do they seem interested in your environmentally-friendly products? Great, assign them to a list with messages that tout your conservation efforts and certifications. If they don’t respond, put them on a list that sends out a mix of offers over time, and see what they react to.
Timeliness in Sends and Content
Traditional email newsletters are sent monthly on a fixed date, or, more commonly, when they are ready. The date and time a newsletter is sent generally has no connection with the buying cycle of your potential customers, though. Marketing Automation turns this idea on its head, and gives you the power to send out personalized emails to your leads based on what they do. Imagine a lead that visits your products pages and then your page that locates the dealers in their state. They could immediately be sent a case study highlighting that particular dealer or the products they have looked at, or an offer to download a “What You Need to Know About Installation” checklist.
The ability to automatically send email messages based on certain behavioral triggers magnifies the effectiveness of your existing Content Marketing program, sending your high-quality offers and information at the exact moment your lead may need them. That’s why the combination of the two is so powerful: it provides tools to not only bring in new leads at the top of the sales funnel, but also help drive them through the funnel. Done right, this can shorten sales cycles, take pressure off of your Sales and Marketing teams, and build buyer loyalty.