For marketers, the continued relevance of email is self-evident: as a digital medium to engage with your customers, it works as well if not better than other channels. If you need stats to back that up, here you go: 72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media, according to MarketingSherpa, and numbers from the DMA show that 49 percent of consumers prefer to hear weekly from companies sending promotional emails.
So we understand the value of customer engagement via email. But what about revenue generation? I don’t mean the eventual revenue of a sale from a customer click-through on a marketing offer; I mean actually making additional revenue from the emails themselves.
Consumers are getting increasingly good at ignoring advertising—DVRs allow them to skip commercials, and seemingly-unique ideas like “The Gas Station Network” (TVs at the pump) are truly just background noise. But what if the ads are relevant, interesting—and are served up in an email from a brand they trust enough to opt in?
Brands and Advertisers: Lend me your ears
It may be hard to initially wrap your head around this, but it requires thinking about marketing emails in a different way:
Brands: You already have the most valuable asset: your list of opted-in customers and prospects who trust you to send relevant content to them. But now, you can partner with advertisers and technology providers to send them additional content—complementary to yours, mind you, but advertising for a related product or service—within the email, providing members of your list with relevant offers and information, and you with a brand new revenue stream.
Advertisers: You know the pain of today’s “blocked Internet" -- “more than 198 million active ad blockers around the world,” according to PageFair, with U.S. ad blocking growing 48 percent last year alone. Marketing emails present a bold new opportunity of an untapped, unblocked means to reach potential prospects—one that even the best software can’t block. Dynamic content such as videos and other creative that provide the look-and-feel of the best Web advertising can help convert an entirely new source of prospects.
Be Kind to Your Customers—Or Else
That isn’t to say this concept isn’t without risk. If you start serving up irrelevant or tasteless videos, content or ads to the customers you’ve worked so hard to engage, you’ve lost them—with one click, they’re gone.
Here are a few tips as you enter this brave, exciting new world:
1. Work with a trusted technology partner capable of inserting great creative from relevant, complementary advertisers into your emails. Ideally, this partner will have their own ad network, or a close partnership with one, allowing them to show you their capabilities and relevant advertisers—and providing you with a single-source partnership. Additionally, you don’t want unsold inventory (yes, you need to start thinking of your marketing emails as “inventory,” like a publisher) so having a partner that will guarantee 100% fill is essential.
2. Insist on creative that is truly creative. Don’t insert any old banner ad into your emails—work with your technology provider and their brand partners to insist on exciting, dynamic content such as videos that render on any device and open automatically, wowing your customers with the unexpected—a marketing email that delivers even greater value and interest.
3. Refine. Then refine more. Work with your technology and advertising partners to conduct A/B testing, and see what works. The minute things go south, refine—and insist on a program that empowers you to make changes in campaigns in real time.
The final step? Reap the benefits—you’ve provided the customer list you’ve worked so hard to build, foster and engage with relevant, complementary advertising that performs like a Web page or social media site. They’ll vote with their clicks—if they like it, you’ve tapped that goldmine of advertising revenue for something you’re doing already. If not, keep refining. But in a world where we’re all trained to ignore advertising, it’s hard to skip over something beautiful, dynamic and relevant coming from a source you already trust—so respect that trust, and enjoy the rewards.