Email as a channel: In need of further investment and attention

Email is a powerhouse channel. It is direct, conversational, mobile friendly, personalised, low cost and completely scalable. Despite its great potential I am regularly seeing underinvestment in a channel that can deliver huge returns.

Let me suggest five areas for further investment by businesses:

1. Transactional and marketing emails

When the all channel list was put together, email scored far higher that any other channel. This was because it can be used in so many other use cases that marketing:

  • Sales or registration confirmation
  • Requests for further information
  • Suggestions to share content
  • Password reminders
  • Customer support

In every case there is an opportunity to increase your relationship with a customer, to position new products and to sell.

You need to audit every email that your systems are sending to ensure that you are maximising their impact. Also take a look at your corporate email signature an often overlooked opportunity to connect.

2. Personalisation of email messages

Personalisation still proves to be tricky for mass email.

Having the right availability of content for your templates is a challenge that CACI are overcoming with our Email Template Manager (ETM). The ETM enables marketers to call in dynamic personalised blocks to an email that is already set out. Worries about email client compliance are quickly erased.

Similarly marketing orchestration platforms can support the matching of customer data with complex rules and other data sources.

3. Speed of delivery

In many cases it takes marketers too long to get an email message out of the door. First there’s the drama of content production. Next comes the creative struggle, a battle dwarfed only by making the email cross client compatible. Finally there is legal sign off and a never ending cycle of approvals.

I worry that for some businesses email is escaping rather than being sent.

Again, CACI’s clients have benefited greatly from using the ETM. Templates and content blocks are pre-approved, pre-tested and guaranteed compatible with every email client peculiarity. Time can be reinvested in getting the proposition right rather than managing a overly bureaucratic process.

4. Programme based sending

This is an often missed opportunity in marketing and transactional emails. Challenges around data and complex selections are cited as the reason. However these challenges can be overcome with investment in integration technology and the right expertise.

The concept is simple. Following a specified customer action or at a specific time send a campaign. Based on the response to this campaign send something else. B2B programs such as Marketo, Eloqua or Pardot do this well. On the B2C side Adobe Campaign, ExactTarget or Responsys have the capabilities that a marketer needs to really make an impact.

5. Retention and engagement strategy

It’s a brave and sensible marketer who understands the need to move beyond purely pushing product.

If content is King, then email is an incredibly effective way to get content in the hands of your audience. A rule that a mentor of mine taught me is that to engage the prospect you should make your content either:

  1. New
  2. Interesting
  3. Relevant
  4. or Different

If it doesn’t meet this criteria then don’t send it.

Also marketers should make use of the wealth of response data they get to plan future content marketing activities. Even better personalise content for specific prospects or audiences.


These are five topics that came to my mind when considering the state of email. I’d be interested in hearing your views on the topic…

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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