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.