E-mail marketing: say yes to relationships

I’m hoping that David Muir’s viewpoint on e-mail marketing was deliberately provocative rather than narrow-minded (MW last week). You know you’re not off to a good start when he describes e-mail marketing as “this electronic form of traditional direct mail”. Just like a website is an electronic form of a brochure, I guess?

David seems to understand e-mail marketing merely as a blast of e-mails to a list of people who don’t want to receive them. This isn’t the permission e-mail marketing that anyone with any experience of e-mail adheres to. It’s probably not even legal the way David describes it.

Most e-mail marketers wouldn’t see e-mail as a customer acquisition tool. Rather, e-mail marketing is about customer retention and service.

“E-mail marketing” covers newsletters, customer service e-mails and news alerts, not just outbound campaigns designed to generate sales. E-mail marketing is about relationship marketing via e-mail.

When you buy something online, you expect an e-mail confirmation, right? When you sign up for a newsletter, you expect to get interesting content delivered via e-mail? When you ask to be notified by e-mail when someone replies to your forum post, you don’t mind getting that notification? This is what e-mail marketing is. These are where the real opportunities for e-mail marketers lie. Keeping it targeted, relevant, useful and permission-based for users, while building trust, brand loyalty, awareness and response for the e-mailer.

Indeed, as these best practices are increasingly adopted, research is showing that e-mail open and response rates are at worst stable, and in most cases are actually improving.

Ashley Friedlein

Chief executive

E-consultancy

London EC1

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