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Posts Tagged ‘email channel’

My first job on the Web was in email marketing and I’ve been involved with it to some degree ever since. I have been trying to think up a juicy post on the subject and I think I have finally got it.

I believe it’s time to take the word “marketing” out of the term “email marketing”. Brilliant huh? Here’s what I’m trying to get at. Email is a channel or a communications tool, not simply a form of direct marketing. I think email has received such a bad rap over the years because one of its first real business uses was to direct market to customers. Businesses became so excited at how cheap and easy to do it was that they didn’t put any thought into it. You know, the old “throw enough sh@t at a wall, some of it will stick” approach. This, coupled with list purchasing practices and the lack of overall creativity, really turned off a lot of people to their inboxes.

Well, times have changed and email is as important as ever.  It’s time we stop using the catch-all term “email marketing” when discussing ways to utilize the email channel. “Email is the digital glue”, is a quote I really like from a video series filmed by Ellie Mirman at this year’s  Email Summit. Off the top of my head I can think of three great ways to use the email channel that are not direct marketing related.

  1. With all of the social media hype a lot of us have forgotten about email. Email is by far the most used channel on the Web for sharing content. I see this firsthand at Boston.com and one of our partners, ShareThis, recently put out some great data on sharing including how people share (email led the pack accounting for 46% of shares).
  2. Transactional emails are a huge opportunity area for businesses of all kinds. They are the best performing emails because they contain something of value for the recipients and, if integrated into a product/service the right way, they can also provide a lot of value for the sender (business). Take Netflix’s transactional email that is sent once a DVD is returned as a perfect example. Yes it’s nice to know your DVD has been received, but the real value here for both the customer and Netflix is the rating functionality. I’m willing to bet that a large percentage of user ratings come from these transactional emails and we all know how important these ratings are to Netflix’s business model.
  3. Sites leveraging “group buying power” have had a lot of success lately by providing users with great daily deals. I think it is pretty obvious that users are not proactively navigating to these sites everyday and since RSS hasn’t caught on with the mainstream yet email has been the flagship channel delivering these daily deals to them. Much like transactional emails this is a great example of directly integrating the email channel with your product/service.

What do you think? Is email as important as ever and are my three uses of the channel at all valuable? If anyone’s out there… (I’ve always wanted to type this) fire away in the comments.

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