Email is the marketing channel that refuses to die, no matter how much scorn people pour on it.

In fact, the emergence of the multichannel discipline has actually given email marketing something of a boost.

Our new Reality of Multichannel Marketing Report, published in association with dotmailer, examines the extent to which email has become the fulcrum for a wide range of online and offline brand engagement activities.

Rapidly becoming the tie that binds disparate elements of the multichannel together, email is playing a crucial role in the increasingly multi-device behaviour of consumers. 

One need only look at the comparable open rates on desktop and mobile to realise email's importance to cross-channel activity.

Research from eBay suggests that the consumer will use an average of three to five platforms when considering a purchase and each move between them creates the potential for a lost sale.

Using email, whether triggered through registration, a dropped basket, a behavioural or anniversary-related input, helps draw the consumer back into the consideration process and moves them forward on their journey. 

Easy and inexpensive to both automate and personalise, and highly trackable, email is rapidly becoming the heart of the multichannel environment.

Here’s a look at two of the points discussed in more depth in the full report...

Email as a key engagement tool

Several of the brands we spoke to as part of the research identified email as key to their engagement strategy.

In the words of Tim Lundberg, head of CRM at Reed Online:

We, at the moment, are mainly focused on email. We do a lot of search marketing, we do a lot of PPC and we want to do display and a few things like that, but it’s very much focused on inbound and communications.

Email campaigns drive people to the site and are fully mobile optimised. We have a large proportion of our traffic from either alerts that people create or behavioural emails based on site activity. 

So there’s a powerful connection between the site and email. The site is very reliant on email for traffic and for leads for different parts of our business.

Tim added that around 70% of Reed’s email is automated.

The ability to track the customer journey through email with embedded links and landing pages is now an important method of gathering data and optimising performance, lessons which can then be applied to other marketing channels.

According to Antony Lea, head of CRM at Notonthehighstreet.com:

Email is where you communicate with customers and it’s the most measurable way of seeing where they go.

According to the DMA, email is the preferred mode of brand marketing for consumers in every age bracket.

Email as online/offline data conduit

The email address is the passport to customer data. 

It’s already a means for people to gain access to a variety of services, and companies have woken up to various added-value products they can offer in the offline environment that translate into improved experiences for the consumer and better access to data for the marketer.

We’ve previously reported on Evans Cycles’ efforts to capture email addresses at the point-of-sale, and Mothercare won a Digitals Award for its new CRM programme that was centred on collecting email addresses in-store.

In the Reality of Multichannel Marketing Report David Paice, director of ecommerce at Merlin Entertainments, also points out that gathering email addresses either offline or on a store’s Wi-Fi network is a valuable way of attaining customer data.

We have communicated how important it is to drive customers to the email funnel. From Wi-Fi sign-up in parks all the way through to customer satisfaction surveys – anywhere we engage we should make an effort to collect data as long as it’s not too intrusive.

His thoughts were echoed by Edward Armitage, head of ecommerce at Hobbycraft:

I would say that email is the pivotal channel for us – it’s the one channel that ties together our online and offline customers. 

We have a large customer database, we’re launching a loyalty card, and email is the single, common marketing method that unites the two. 

It allows us to contact our offline customers and our online customers, and indeed our multichannel customers.

David Moth

Published 23 February, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and GDPR Geek at Fresh Relevance

Email remains important because it's one of the few communication channels that is free (as in speech). So competition has made it extremely cheap and third parties are constantly innovating to layer new technologies on top and improve the experience..

This is in stark contrast with alternative channels, such as twitter, facebook and messenger, linkedin and so forth. These tend to be "walled gardens", each with a commercial owner who makes money from "paid for" ways of brands contacting shoppers. It's not in their interest of these owners for third parties to move in and take a slice of the cake, or to make free commercial contacts too easy.

about 3 years ago

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Zo Zhou, Marketing specialist at Traction Digital

Thanks David, great to see more marketers see renewed value in email and its change from a blast channel to a glue binding multiple channels. We'd also add that the personalisation power of email enables content marketing to be more contextualised as well: http://bit.ly/1psVYLY

about 3 years ago

Duncan Wright

Duncan Wright, Director at BSA Marketing

Can't disagree with what is being said, but I do have to take issue with a couple of things:

1. The "emergence" of multichannel - multi channel marketing is as old as marketing itself. I think what the means is that digital marketers have started to cotton on to its importance.

2. Pete - I would dispute that e-mail is any "freer". Than social media. Both channels require investment in either time or cash to be effective. I would also suggest that to be effective brands should be careful about promoted content on social media as increasingly it is seen as obtrusive and is becoming less and less effective at reaching and engaging with people (http://xen.com.au/forrester-advises-brands-stop-using-facebook/

about 3 years ago

James Gadsby Peet

James Gadsby Peet, Senior Digital Services Manager at Cancer Research UK

Any chance of a reference / source for the DMA chart? thanks!

about 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

about 3 years ago

Philip Storey

Philip Storey, Founder & Principal Consultant at Enchant Agency

I am quite surprised by the 18-24's statistics. Are they really the most likely to engage with email marketing versus all those other channels, especially social marketing?

I have found this to be the most difficult demographic to engage with through email marketing strategies, depending on the brand of course...

about 3 years ago

James Gadsby Peet

James Gadsby Peet, Senior Digital Services Manager at Cancer Research UK

Great - thanks David

about 3 years ago

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Zo Zhou, Marketing specialist at Traction Digital

@Philip - it's all about context. With email, you opt in and expect updates. You enter your details in a preference centre, with the knowledge that data will be used. This is not the case with social, which is why targeted messaging can come across as creepy. That's not to say there aren't brands doing social well but the vast majority still treat it like a disruptive advertising channel (which it has rapidly become).

about 3 years ago

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