Why e-mail is still one of your most effective channels

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While growth hackers are continuously looking for the sexy, new trendy way of obtaining or reactivating users, they often neglect one of the most effective methods: e-mail. A recent article published by McKinsey & Co., “Why Marketers Should Keep Sending You E-mails,” makes a strong case for e-mail marketing. In fact, the article shows e-mail is 40X more effective to acquire users than Facebook and Twitter combines (though maybe 1/40th as cool). The argument is very consistent with what I wrote about Bayes’ Theorem: The underlying baseline data is very powerful in driving results. In this case, the “40X more effective results” assertion states that about 91 percent of US consumers use e-mail daily, and that e-mail prompts purchases at three times that of social media with an average order value that is 17 percent higher than from other sources. Given e-mail’s power to improve your user-acquisition efforts, there are three keys to making it a successful channel.

Focus on the customer journey

Understand the recipient’s journey from the time they receive your e-mail to the final desired action. This action is not opening the e-mail or clicking on a link but it is potentially installing an app, making a purchase, etc. While it is good to optimize every part of the e-mail, from the subject line to the images to the copy, you should focus on optimizing the entire customer journey. Once they click on a link in the e-mail, do not stop optimizing. Rather than taking them to a generic landing page, keep their experience consistent with what persuaded the user to click on the e-mail in the first place. And ensure the experience is just as good on a mobile device, given that 45 percent of all marketing e-mails are opened on a mobile device. According to Google, 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40 percent visit a competitor’s site instead.

Learn, learn, learn

You should use every e-mail as an opportunity to understand better your customer. Define clear learning objectives for every campaign, capture data and share it across your company (with your product team, design team, VIP group, etc). By sharing hits and misses from your e-mail marketing campaigns, you uncover what does not work and improve messaging in all channels. It also helps ensure future e-mails are more successful.

Get really personal

Adding a customer’s first name does not make an e-mail personal, but really customizing it for the user has a huge impact on effectiveness. The article discusses how Gilt Groupe sends more than 3,000 variations of its daily e-mail, each tailored based on user click-throughs, browsing history and purchase history. Keep in mind that building this level of customization and targeting abilities is not easy; it requires specific capabilities and supporting infrastructure. A targeting engine must be built to guide the right message to the right person. Your e-mail team also has to be able to create and send 3,000 different e-mails daily, which is significantly more difficult than one mass e-mail blast.

Key takeaways

  1. E-mail marketing is a grossly underused marketing channel, 40 times more effective than social media.
  2. When building your e-mail campaign, focus on the customer’s journey. It is not only about getting your customer to open or click, but ensure that once they arrive in your game or on your site they have a great experience.
  3. Learn from every e-mail and constantly improve, not just your e-mail campaigns but use it to optimize all of your growth efforts.
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