Businesses may be swooning over the ability of social media marketing to woo customers, but business owners shouldn't forget that email still has substantial commercial chops, a new report shows. It's the Web's common denominator, used by virtually all Web users for both personal and marketing messages.
According to email marketing provider ExactTarget, 93 percent of all U.S. Internet users get at least one permission-based email daily.
But there is still significant debate over whether email is even relevant to Web users anymore. The perceptions about email's demise are off target, said David Hallerman, the author of eMarketer's new report on best practices for email marketing. It remains a key activity among Internet users of all ages, and marketers have become more sophisticated in how they use it in order to optimize their chances of success.
"Best practices for email marketing can be summarized in one sentence," said Hallerman. "Get accurate and detailed data from people who want to hear from you, then automate the numerous steps involved in sending them relevant messages."
Marketers need to ensure that emails are delivered to the recipient's inbox at a time when they might be read, he said. They need to find a balance between outsourcing email campaigns and handling them in-house. Automation can help customize and trigger emails based on the recipient's activities and interests.
Landing pages and emails should be optimized for multiple devices, particularly mobile ones. Marketers should try to convince recipients to share their emails with others and test campaigns to boost email open rates and clicks.
"Not only does usage remain a prime activity among Internet users of all ages, it allows marketers to contact their target audience with timing and personalized details and social media cannot match," said Hallerman. "And the rise of mobile usage helps marketers reach their customers via email more than before, since people use those devices to check email much more frequently than they might have in the past."