Given the rise of social networking sites, it seems that email marketing has become passé already. Does it still work for marketers?

The advent of the internet gave birth to email. In my opinion, even before websites are made, everyone was already all excited about creating hotmail accounts and sending everyone virtual greeting cards. The brands, however, have a different perspective to it: create and establish a directory and send them emails to develop “awareness” for their products and offerings. Initially, this was not bad. But too many emails and abused messages from companies and individuals gave birth to the terms “spam” and “junk mails.”

Fast forward to today, we are actually quite wary of what goes into our inbox. In fact, we do not hesitate to “mark as spam” an uninvited email that pops up in our inbox. Email providers are also doing their fair share of monitoring spammers to ensure that the content that really enters our inbox are those that are legitimate.
 
For marketers, we have to be cautious whenever we use email as a marketing tool. The last thing we want is to irritate our audience like how an uninvited guest comes into our living room. We want people to welcome our message, not smirk at another irrelevant offer.
 
Email marketing is nothing different from the universal rules of marketing. Marketing efficiently means communicating to each segmented market with specific relevant messages.  Gone are the days when you do mass marketing, and more gone are the times when you do mass emailing. Even the current email systems will jam your messages and bounced them back to you, or automatically drop everything you send out to the trash.
 
I hope I did not paint a bleak picture or even come across as saying that email marketing is dead. In fact, it is alive and kicking, and could be a potent digital marketing tool if used well. Truth be told, I think it is one of the most powerful marketing tools ever made, because this is the closest any push media could do to interact with its customers. TV, radio, print and even websites are all about creating content and getting the audience to see them. Email goes all the way to the point of interaction, the inbox.
 
If we believe the cliché “content is king,” then in emails marketing, the content is queen. The “Subject” is king. It does not matter who sends it, but the Subject bearing the message should be the most important as it determines whether an email gets opened or gets thrown into the deleted folder. The Subject area should be relevant to the target audience. Therefore it goes without saying that before any email gets sent out, the list should be segmented to as lean as possible, whether geographically, demographically, or psychographically. In fact, after the segmentation process is done, one can realize that they don’t even have to send to those who now does not become part of their target audience.

Content is queen in email marketing only because once the email gets noticed and opened, that’s when the attention of the reader shifts toward the body of the message and to the content. Now given a hardworking Subject copy, the last thing you want is people to hit delete button after opening the message. Make it short and sweet, not too much text and use a good combination of pictures and words. The content should not be too long, at most two scroll downs. Simulate watching a 15-second commercial. That’s how long you will have them.
 
So what do you want them to do after having them open something from you, and capturing them for 15 seconds? Tease them to go to your site. Don’t expect a sale, or them going into your store. That’s too much to ask from an email message. Unless it really is an extreme offer, how many of us have really bought something from an email message? Tease them and get them to your website or microsite. Explain things there and start the conversation and relationship going.
 
Emails can work wonders but you have to know when and how to use them, and more importantly, what it can do. It may not directly drive sales or bring new customers, but it will definitely get the conversation started. Like all relationships, a good beginning is just what we need, right?
 
 
Donald Lim is the Chief e-Marketing Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (www.mansmith.net), the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. Please email info@mansmith.net, call (+63-2) 584-5858 / 412-0034 or text (+63) 918-81-168-88.  Please also send your marketing, sales and strategy questions to mentors@mansmith.net.