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Email: Marketing's Little Black Dress

In 1926, Coco Chanel featured the little black dress in Vogue magazine. Daring and accessible to women of all ages, the long-lasting design still lives in our closets 89 years later. Chanel’s iconic piece shows us that mastering simplicity in something as complex as a woman’s style is no easy feat. Finding classic pieces that you can dress up or dress down is also something to master. And that’s not just true for fashion—it’s the same for email marketing as well.

When it comes to marketing, it’s easy to overlook a practical essential like email. With the rise of social media and email filters, email often gets dismissed as an outdated channel—despite the fact that it still serves as the best channel for ROI at a staggering rate of 66 percent. Practical, appealing, and dependably simple, email marketing can serve as the backbone to a sustainable multi-channel automation campaign.

One size does not fit all.

When you reach out to your initial prospect, it might begin with a cold email, an awkward call, or a random LinkedIn invitation. What channel does your prospect prefer? According to a recent study by The Relevancy Group, 35 percent of marketers wanted to improve segmentation and targeting.2 A/B testing and list segmentation will show you which prospects prefer email and which should be routed to another channel. And an email unsubscribe doesn’t have to mean good-bye. Add a social media icon to your unsubscribe page to keep in touch. Over time, you will see trends by industry or customer type that help you find the right channel for that initial introduction to your brand.

Don’t let your slip show.

According to a recent eMarketer survey, 60 percent of marketing agencies and 55 percent of companies have adapted email design to render well on all devices—yet only 30 percent of those respondents have mobile-optimized landing pages.3 So remember: even if your emails are looking good on mobile, it won’t matter if your landing page looks like an afterthought.

Don’t just customize a message for your prospects. Tailor it.

Once your email campaign is in motion and you’ve optimized additional channels, you’ll want to keep a dashboard handy to monitor the effect of your efforts, allowing course correction as necessary for long-term success. Be sure to monitor how your email campaign complements your alternate channel and social media efforts. You may want to keep your tactical and operational dashboards separate as your team and investments grow.

Develop a sense of style across all channels.

Social media, digital media, and email marketing teams should have a consistent message across all channels. This can be tough with limited bandwidth and small teams. While social media campaigns are a common email topic, are your email campaigns announced on social channels? Can email subscribers Tweet directly from each email in their inbox? Who knows? Make sure you have a strategic roadmap from which everyone can align, then put it in motion with marketing automation.

Email marketing doesn’t have to sit waiting in the back of your closet. If you strategically focus on segmentation, mobile optimization, metrics, and planning, you can integrate it into a wide variety of campaigns. Because who doesn’t love that essential piece that goes with everything?

1. Jen Whitten, “Which Marketing Channels Produce the Best ROI?,” February 27, 2015, Dex Media blog, https://www.dexmedia.com/blog/marketing-channels-produce-best-roi/.

2. David Daniels, Chris Marriott, Peggy Reinders, et al., The Relevancy Ring – ESP Buyer’s Guide, 2015, February 23, 2015, The Relevancy Group, http://www.relevancygroup.com/email-marketing/_the-relevancy-ring-esp-buyers-guide-2015.

3.Lauren Fisher, REPORT: Email Marketing Benchmarks 2015: Are Performance Metrics Revealing Signs of Customer Fatigue?, August 12, 2015, eMarketer.