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Whilst social media tends to attract much attention at the moment, the savvy marketing professional understands that success lies in using the best digital marketing mix and not over focusing on one channel.

Email marketing remains an important component, but what can be done to raise our game and generate even better results from this established and proven marketing tool? 

The multichannel world

Originally a vehicle for driving traffic to websites, the email message must now promote mobile channels as well as social fan pages and other digital properties. We constantly hear about the need for multichannel campaigns, email has a role to play in this complex interwoven world. Rather than concerns of channel cannibalisation the modern digital marketer actively seeks ways to feed, grow and support other channels.

Consider too that emails are consumed through a variety of devices and can provide access to your audience whilst they are in a variety of different contexts. Issuing a traditional email company newsletter once a month is woefully inadequate. 

How can you change your content to take advantage of and support today's multichannel world? 

Get connected to your audience

It is difficult to craft messages and email campaigns that resonate unless you understand your audience in detail. Consider obtaining first-hand insights into what your audience really think, discuss and are excited about.

We need to strive to understand how our audiences change at different points in their relationship with us; before they become customers, during purchase transactions and post sale in customer care.  

There is no short cut, and second hand views just won’t do. If you really want to understand the audience then be prepared to put on a headset and spend a few days in your organisation's call centre. If your organisation has physical outlets, then visit them. Walk about and listen, watch and enquire. 

Find the places where your organisation comes into physical contact with the public, customers or supporters and be there with and open and absorbing mind. 

A customer-centric perspective


A customer-centric approach is a much overused term. The bottom line is that our campaign must serve your organisation's needs and help it meet it’s objectives. However the effectiveness of our email campaign will depend upon finding intersections between our goal and our audiences needs. Armed with our first hand insight from walking about, listening and enquiring, we are in a much stronger position to find these intersections and common ground. 

Similar to all other digital channels, email marketing needs to offer control to the audience and not simply push content. Modern email campaigns need to enable the audience to shape the content they receive and refine their interests as well as feedback. Simply being able to unsubscribe is completely insufficient.


We have at our disposal sophisticated database tools and technologies that enable very detailed segmentation and the refinement of content based upon user feedback and action. We can then take action based on the feedback and preferences that our audiences express. 

Enabling our audience to actively participate in email campaigns might be the most customer-centric action we can take. 

Moving beyond marketing

Often constrained to the marketing silo, email campaigns can provide an opportunity for virtually all aspects of an organisation to participate in the customer dialogue. This is advice we often hear in the context of social media, but it is just as applicable to email campaigns.

Take the time to look for ways that email can help other departments solve problems, reduce costs or achieve non-marketing business objectives. In the same way that the digital marketer is well advised to get connected to audiences by walking about and listening, it is equally helpful to stay connected within our own organisations by adopting a similar philosophy. 

Evangelise about the power of email communications and then use your specialist skills and knowledge to help other departments achieve better performance through improved digital communications. 

Meaningful information

We all know that email campaigns generate huge amounts of performance data, but what do you plan to do with it? It is easy to fall into the trap of measuring what is easy to measure or what is presented to you as being important. 

One approach that can be helpful is to model in advance what you expect to see in the post campaign data. Based upon your campaign objectives determine which numbers are most significant. For instance, if your goal is to increase brand advocacy then focusing on open rate is less helpful than forwarding rate. 

Rather than defining success as relative change between two campaigns or comparison to an industry norm, consider defining your measures and targets whilst determining the campaigns objectives. 

Email marketing might not be new and sexy but it remains a powerful weapon in the digital marketer's armoury. But in increasingly noisy times, we need to rethink how we approach its use if we are to drive better results from it.

Ed Stivala

Published 12 May, 2010 by Ed Stivala

Ed Stivala is the founder of consulting firm n3w media and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or find n3w on Facebook

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Comments (1)

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email marketing

Loved your post and your comment on get connected to your audience.  To be able to meet and speak to people in person, is the best way.  There is nothing that takes that place.  However, if you can't do that, understanding your audience and engaging them in a blog or on a social media site, is mandatory.  People want to talk with and deal with people, not voicemail and robotic messages.

Live chat is popular for that very reason.  Why not chat with someone, rather than wait for a ticket to be answered?  We still want and need that personal touch.

over 6 years ago

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