Along with the new A-Team film, our annual staff rounders night and the phenomenally excellent ‘Mad Men’, email marketing has been a hot topic at the Stopgap Group office this week. Top ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s has announced that it will be decreasing its email marketing communications in an effort to focus on customer communications within the Social Media space, which has divided opinions within our marketing microcosm, as well, it seems, as the wider industry.
There’s no doubting that 12 months ago, it was very tempting to agree with the idea that email marketing was finally on its way out. Google Wave was dubbed the ‘email killer’ (ironic, considering the platform has seemingly dropped off the face of existence), Twitter was the new darling of the SM scene and social networks were fast becoming de facto communications tools. So Ben and Jerry’s seem to be making a logical shift in digital marketing strategy, surely? Not necessarily.
This week has also seen the publication of a US study on http://www.emarketer.com that claims 37% of online shoppers prefer to receive offers by email – a percentage that’s by no means insignificant. (Thanks to @RossFurlong for the article.) So what is a digital marketer to do? Should we all drop email and place our proverbial eggs within the embracing basket of Social Media? Or does email remain a relevant – and successful – digital marketing channel?
I believe that email marketing remains a very valid strategy – if employed within an integrated context.
You see, just because Social Media channels have opened up new and exciting ways of engaging with our target audiences, this doesn’t mean that all email marketing has subsequently become redundant – far from it. Yes, early adopters of Social Media may now interact more prevelantly with brands through Facebook, Twitter, apps on their smartphone – but there still exists a large demographic of consumers who are not engaging with Social Media.
My mum is a perfect case in point. She continues to find it absurd that her four children “tell people what they are up to” on Facebook and refuses to sign up for such a service. Although this is very handy for me (as it means my poor old mum is spared the shame of seeing her son tagged in a photo after several pints), this attitude is not good for marketers who are putting all of their efforts into Social Media – like Ben and Jerry’s.
Sure, a marketing communication on Ben and Jerry’s Facebook fan page can reach (at the time of writing) 1,349,244 customers, but what about the generation of people who find personalised, targeted marketing emails a helpful tool? My mum likes ice cream too – which is why email marketing remains a valid part of an integrated digital strategy.
Long live email.