What Drives the Growth of e-Mail Marketing

For years, email has been considered as a cheap and effective yet mature channel that has limited room for growth. More of our attentions are being directed towards social media and mobile. Social and mobile spend surpassed email spend in 2011. So what is the future of email marketing? Is email as many people have boldly predicted, dying?

Email marketing is here to stay

TV didn't kill radio nor did the e-Commerce eliminate retail stores. The rise of new channels does not necessarily mean the demise of email. Dead is blast email, relevant and permission-based email is here to stay and will continue to grow and flourish. Channel integration, advance analytics, and new technologies such as customer level web analytics are three major trends that will bolster the growth of email marketing.

Channel integration

Channel integration first means data integration. Customers interact with you via multiple channels. The history of touch points may reside in different places. Traditionally, retail and email marketing operated in silos, which oftentimes resulted in bad customer experience and lost revenue. Marketers need to link across data sources to build up a full picture of your customers across channels, on and offline. In an integrated and more coordinated multichannel marketing environment, email will serve as one of the key components of an integrated approach to customer communications complementing social media, mobile, direct mail, and catalogs. Email drives customers to retail stores and social networks to interactive with them again there.

Segmentation and Advance Analytics

Email is all about relevancy. Segmentation and analytics are key to identify the right audiences, right channel, right timing, right products, and right offers. There are many ways to slice and dice your email database. One way is to identify your best customers by value and customer lifecycle, and design triggered and promotional email such as welcome, loyalty building, retention, churn prevention, and win-back programs that are customized for customers at different lifecycle stages. You may also segment emails by customers' preferred channels. A multichannel retailer collapsed emails into retail-only, web-only, and those used both channels. Take Retail-Only segment for example, marketers created two types email programs for them: programs that drive traffics to local stores and programs that aim to convert them into multichannel customers.

In order to make email more relevant, more companies are digging deeper into data to better understand customers' behaviors and interests. Cross-sell models and response models predict who are most likely to respond to your offers and what the next best products are, and how much they will spend on their next visit. By using segmentation and predictive models coupled with multivariable testing, marketers can apply insights gleaned from data to deliver more personalized messages and offer to customers.

New Technologies

New technologies such as Hodoop, Hive, Pig, and Cloud will make it technically and fiscally feasible for marketers to take full advantage of big data. Customer level web activities such as what product reviews read, what questions asked, etc. accurately reveal the immediate needs and wants of a customer. My friend Jane had her first baby boy 3 years ago. She has been buying boys' stuff in the past three years. Last month, she gave birth to a baby girl. Now she searches girls' products all day long. However, even the best predictive models will fail to predict the change of her interests because all predictive models were built upon historic data. But customer level online analytics data can quick reveal the change of her interests. If you are the first to email Jane presenting the relevant products and offers to her, most likely you will beat competitions. Although most of the web analytic data are still at aggregate level, we strongly encourage marketers to start working with your ESP and web analytics providers to link customer level web analytics data with other data sources, e.g. CRM systems, social media platforms, and email marketing systems to better engage your customers, and then turn insights into revenue and competitive advantage.