Email marketing - is it unfairly fashionable?

FASHIONABLE is an interesting word.

You can have fashionable clothes, fashionable hair, even fashionable food. Anything can be fashionable and if certain influencers or the media tell us so we believe it. By definition therefore when something becomes fashionable something else becomes unfashionable. So for every pair of skinny jeans there is a pair with an elasticated waistband. For every tight haircut there is a mullet and for every locally sourced, organic gastro pub meal there is boil in the bag curry.

This pace of what is shiny and new and what is old and dusty is far worse in the digital world driven by the pace of technology. So your iPad1 is already old and useless compared with the new iPad. Likewise if you compare the column inches and web pages dedicated to the best practice for social media you would think that there is no other way to interact with consumers. In fact as a commentator and professional it often feels that unless you spend your time banging on about the latest trend you too will be viewed as unfashionable and out of date.

So I am going to put my mullet on and stand up for email, a marketing tool that many now view as run of the mill. 10 years ago email marketing was the sexy young thing in a marketeers toolbox. It was shrouded in mystery and some people made a lot of money telling others how to do it. Over time however new things arrive and email marketing moved from being shiny to becoming a stalwart of peoples marketing activities simply because done well it delivers.

A recent report from the Direct Marketing Association showed that half of the respondents stated that email marketing was driving 30% or more of their total revenues. So almost a third of revenues from an activity that is often neglected, and in some firms given to a junior while others try to fathom out how to get a return from their new Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Those companies, from large corporates to local restaurants that do get it, realise the benefits. They know that they can prove the return on investment in both time and money. They understand that compared to other channels it is cheap and you can truly build brand loyalty through regular contact if done well, something that all Social Media tries to do. Compared with Social Media it is also highly targeted, you can personalise your emails to named individuals and send highly tailored messages. Anything from solutions or products you know interest them such as a Friday night offer for a deal on a curry to announcing a new product line.

There are lots of shiny new toys out there and there are good reasons why you should pick them up and play with them to see how they work. However you also shouldn’t be afraid to put on your mullet and not forget those older toys that deliver results time and time again and give them the time, effort and attention they deserve and enjoy the returns that will give you.

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Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant follow him on Twitter @timyoungman