Does email still work?

A recent report by Econsultancy indicates social networks have a long way to go before they catch email in terms of marketing effectiveness. Econsultancy completed a sample of 1,400 surveys and found that only 63% of consumers use social networking sites and that most of them had not yet friended/liked/become a fan of a company on-line. When asked their preferred method of contact 42% of consumers said email, followed by 33% who said phone, 17% snail mail, 3% Facebook and 1% Twitter.

Email is going to be around for a long time but it’s not as easy as it was few short years ago when there seemed to be abundant low-hanging-fruit. Today there is a declining willingness of people to join lists which makes it a little tougher to build a viable email database and those of us who have used email marketing for the last several years are frustrated with the declining response and are seeking other means to generate leads. Its almost like Yogi Berra saying “nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”. The truth of the matter is email marketing is still very effective but the approach to a successful campaign has to be more sophisticated in order to achieve good results.

The first step is building a good opt-in list. According to Marketing Sherpa’s Best Practices in Email Marketing the top five opt-in methods for b-to-b marketers are…

1. Free trials/downloads

2. Sales alerts/product announcements

3. Trade events

4. Newsletter offers

5. Sweepstakes

There are two types of opt-in lists, single opt-in and double opt-in. Around 75% of marketers use single opt-in because it’s easier and there are less barriers to entry according to Marketing Sherpa. The difference is a double opt-in requires a second opt-in in the form of clicking on a link in a confirmation email. We use single opt-in because it generates more opt-ins, it’s easier to manage, is cheaper, and it’s in compliance with CAN-SPAM. Double opt-in also has its advantages such as keeping your list free of hard bounces, which is becoming increasingly important for SEO, and its easier to prove opt-in in case of spam complaints.

In summary, email marketing is very much alive and combining it with a solid social networking strategy is the only way to go. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on social networking and or email marketing. Please comment.