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Future of Email Marketing for B2B Marketers

Email will celebrate its 50th birthday in a few years. After half a century in action it has replaced paper and pen as the preferred choice of contact for most. Since the birth of email, technology has developed rapidly and today we find ourselves ever available, even emailing on the move from our mobile devices. The social media frenzy that has gripped the internet in recent years has breathed new life into the way we communicate online, so it is no surprise that endless reports are surfacing to suggest the death of email.

However, seasoned marketers are playing their part by keeping email an important part of their marketing mix, with their realisation that email is still a cost-effective marketing tool, and an absolute necessity for any social network to survive. According to our 2010 SUBSCRIBERS, FANS & FOLLOWERS research, 88% of US consumers still check their email daily, while 94% use it at least once a week. 50% of consumers make purchases as a result of email, so it’s clear that email still drives more conversions than any other channel.

If email is to remain the staple in digital communication, marketers will need to change the way they use it, to work alongside the ever increasing list of available marketing platforms. So what else does the future hold for this popular form of interaction, in these constantly evolving times?

Cross-channel marketing

Social media, mobile, video and other technological advances have prompted marketers to rethink the way they interact with their audience, using the various channels available to them. The integration of these channels has been on the agenda for a while now, but it’s not just a case of being aware of and using the different platforms. It’s important to make the most of the integrated mix of email, mobile and social media in order to accelerate the ability to engage customers in real-time, dramatically improving marketing and sales performances as a result.

Email is the crucial link in this chain. Ok, so it’s not shiny and new, but it drives essential traffic back to the social media channels or website of a brand. Taking Facebook or Twitter as an example, how many users re-engage with apps and/or websites because they have received an email about a new friend, follower, comment or event? 

This idea is supported by the findings of the research, which showed that 58% of US consumers begin their day with email and only 11% with Facebook. We also know that those who start their day with email tend to be motivated to interact with brands online for the sake of obtaining deals, promotions or new product information. More than 93% of online consumers are subscribers, providing their email address to at least one brand.

Email as a standalone channel may not be as effective as it used to be. Using different channels independently – instead of cohesively as one isn’t effective either. Messages often conflict, offers are not consistent, and the customer’s perception is that the brand is dysfunctional and therefore, ill prepared to anticipate and respond to his or her needs.

However, if a brand creates a single database of knowledge about its customers and use it to deliver consistent messages and timely offers across multiple channels, the customer’s brand experience would be quite different; one built on a single view of the customer that values real-time interaction over static channel-focused campaigns.

"The Age of the Individual"

With an average of 600 tweets, 34,000 Google searches, and 700 Facebook posts per second, consumers have access to infinite amounts of instantaneous information, and as a result, possess a demanding new set of expectations. Every conversation and every interaction a customer has with a brand – whether it occurs face-to-face, through email, on the phone, on the website, or via Twitter, Facebook, or SMS – shapes a customer’s opinions and influences how he or she talks about the brand.

For marketers, this means the constant need to satisfy customer expectations. Nowadays customers want to be in control more than ever before.

It is important that marketers not only understand the necessity of external cross-channel interaction with consumers, they also need to make sure that the internal interaction between all customer facing departments is unified. Customer information should be loaded to a shared database that all customer-facing employees can access in order to communicate with their customer effectively and provide a strong and well informed service.

What does the future look like?

Streamlining campaigns, using data effectively and segmenting audiences will ensure that email continues to be a leading tool in the marketing mix. The future will be very much about creating well informed and targeted content for use in cross channel marketing campaigns to reach all target audiences. Email is an influential and effective B2B marketing tool, and an essential factor in cross channel campaigns of the future.