Back in the day, email was strictly a communications tool for academic and business purposes. But it quickly became a solution for personal communication among friends and family and continues to grow in its use and usefulness.
Early in the lifecycle of email, smart marketers realized that email marketing presented a number of benefits over traditional snail-mail direct marketing. Email was (and still is) a powerful way to communicate with customers and drive sales to the bottom line. It can also be easily tracked and personalized and continues to be a less expensive, greener alternative to direct mail.
According to the Radicati Group, there were 3.9 billion email accounts in 2013 and by 2017 that number will increase to 4.9 billion. And as the number of email accounts grows, the value continues to rise as well. According to EmailExpert, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25. But getting there requires the consumer to invite you into his or her inbox.
When a business is invited into a consumer’s inbox, it creates an opportunity for the marketer to develop a one-to-one relationship with that individual by delivering highly targeted and relevant offers or content that is of interest to the reader. Such individualized personalized communication with a customer is what makes email so effective.
However, for email to live up to its full potential and be mutually beneficial to both business and consumer, the marketer must maintain this relationship by consciously delivering the right messages to the right consumers at the right time.
This can be a challenge not only for small business owners who lack the time and resources to build an email list but also for large enterprises with multiple divisions and numerous products. In both cases, marketers face two of the biggest challenges in the email marketing world – churn and growth.
Email churn – or as some say, attrition – happens a few ways. Some churn is inevitable. Consumers move on to new jobs, change email addresses or just stop checking an old account. This inactivity leads to what is referred to as opaque churn. The other type of churn – referred to as transparent churn – is predicated by an unsubscribe (or sometimes spam) reporting.
Problematic unsubscribe rates usually stem from a lack of understanding about how to keep the customer engaged. Consumers sign up for an email list because they are interested in learning more about (or receiving special offers on) a product or service. Then after a while, messages start to fill up a junk folder or a consumer unsubscribes because the message got stale and interest waned. So, it is up to marketers to avoid churn through fresh and relevant campaigns.
MediaPost tells us that while transparent churn rates can vary widely, typical annual rates are between 25 percent and 50 percent. Opaque churn rates are probably between 10 percent and 25 percent annually for most brands, but in the words of the author, this is more of an educated guess rather than an industry stat. Nonetheless, churn is a fact of life and a common problem that needs to be addressed.
But how? What solutions are out there to help drive list growth with targeted email addresses of consumers who actually want to hear from you?
Now more than ever, list growth – for both enterprises and small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) – is not as challenging as it used to be. There is a new trend in so-called opt-in display ads that allow for geo-targeting, as well as targeting by hundreds of demographic and psychographic data points. As these technologies evolve, retargeting solutions will also emerge and take on characteristics of traditional online advertising. These solutions will have stronger click through rates and overall ROI because of their ability to allow consumers to interact and opt-in directly in the advertisement.
We are now seeing more of the bigger email marketing solution providers integrate these email list growth solutions into their overall offerings. And why? They don’t lose customers because of the inevitable churn, and now paid acquisition has become part of the email marketing budget. SMBs are also recognizing the value and affordability of an easy-to-use solution.
Heidi Schulte, owner of June Bug Skincare in the Russian River Valley, was already heavily reliant on email to market her services but wanted to grow her client base even more. She discovered a simple, programmatic ad-buying solution that was easy and affordable for her small budget.
Heidi started out with an email list of almost 500 customers. Within a month of launching her first list growth ad campaign, her list grew by 24 percent. She continues to add subscribers steadily every month. She was able to set a daily budget at a rate that was affordable for her, and she can change her budget whenever she wants. Her cost per new email subscriber is only $1.25, and once she reaches her daily budget the solution automatically stops serving her ad.
Heidi is only one of many SMBs and enterprises that are embracing email list growth ads as a solution for garnering new customers and more business. And while churn will continue to be an issue, technology is helping to make it less of a concern and more of a call to action. Companies are getting onto the list growth bandwagon and new technology is leading the way.
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