As the CEO of an Email Service Provider for the last 8 years I have watched the evolution of email marketing. We started with being the only way to send beautiful rich looking html emails that would help convince your prospect or customer to buy more from you. Coupons, sales and buy now were the norm. Over the last 8 years the technology has advanced as well as the recipient’s acceptance filter. We have received so much pretty email that we do not have time to look at any but a very small slice of it. Our personal interest filters have shut down the system. Add Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and RSS feeds and you can just give up trying to squeeze in more information.
What happens when there are too many cable channels, too many email newsletters, too many blogs, too many tweets? We get very selective. We stop trying to look at all that is available and we focus our energy on those that we trust. Our email marketing customers have evolved. The ability to see the open and click rate immediately after sending an email marketing campaign is very sobering. The industry average for open rates is about 30%. If you are sending out a campaign and you get an 8% open rate you know that you are broken within a day of the time that you send it. This constant access to immediate feedback creates a behavior change. How do I get people to accept my email marketing efforts? We preach trust over and over to our email marketing customers. Give people the information they are looking for and only send it to those that you think are looking for it. Open rates soar and prospects become customers and customers become repeat buyers and referral agents.
Over the last 8 years we have seen more sophisticated spam and personal junk filters. It is easier to block and harder to be accepted now than ever before. With all of this, why is the Email Marketing industry soaring? According to Marketing Sherpa’s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, email marketing budgets increased across all industries despite overall marketing budgets decreasing. Just in the Business/Financial services industry, 51% of companies increased their email marketing budgets. Marketing Sherpa’s results also show that tactics that take more time are that much more effective. Delivering content that is highly relevant to the segment at 50% increased effort is 70% percent more effective overall.
So, why are more and more small businesses turning to email marketing? Is it because the technology allows us to penetrate junk filters? No, I think it is because people are learning how to use email marketing correctly. I have seen a big increase in our business customers realizing that they need to build a trusted email relationship with their prospects and customers. They are then using the data that email marketing provides to follow up with the customers that are clearly the most interested. (i.e. Adding a phone call using a ranked call list of email activity enhances the result significantly.) Let’s face it, nothing but a trusted relationship works and the reason that email marketing has exploded worldwide is because the small business world is starting to figure out how to use it properly.
We have gone from 8 foot long emails to short focused emails with learn more buttons that take you to a landing page. The click data that can be collected for those that are interested enough to learn more is invaluable. We have gone from blasting everyone a coupon once a week to a series of small informative sometimes educational touches over time. The coupons are all in the spam filter and the educational emails are forwarded to friends. The email marketing small company has evolved and email marketing is thriving because of it.