A week ago, I celebrated the anniversary edition of my weekly digital marketing strategy e-newsletter Two Point Tuesday. Wait, what? You’re not a subscriber? Please remedy that.
Anyway, because of the anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the merits of email marketing.
Obviously, I value email as a form of communication. In fact, I’ve staked a great deal of faith in email over other forms of communication. After all, I could’ve used my blog to published weekly articles. Or I could’ve posted on LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Medium.
Instead, I chose to use email as my primary platform via Two Point Tuesday.
But should you?
Most people think social media is the king of content distribution. Ask most marketers, and you’ll get a hundred reasons why you should use Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn to get your message out there. (So much so, in fact, that a friend of mine scoffed at the idea of businesses still using blogs to promote their business. She said brands should go all in on social only.)
But just because something’s flashy doesn’t make it a bright idea. An article from Harvard Business Review reports that social media converts less than half that of email: 4.29% vs. 1.81%. Moreover, for every dollar you invest in email marketing, you’ll get around $50 in return. (Maybe I should start selling stuff here…)
Why People Subscribe to Email
Let’s say you’re convinced, and you’re 100% bought into email. Now we need to figure out why someone would actually want to subscribe to your email.
First, ask yourself why you subscribed to this email? It might have been by accident (24.8% of email subscribers claim they’ve accidentally signed up for email, according to GetApp).
Likely, you know me and are curious what I have to say. For others, maybe you just want a list of articles and news to read, curated by someone else.
No matter what your reason, you’re expecting to get something out of it. Every time we sign up for emails, we do it in order to satisfy some need or want.
Sometimes, what you want is tangible. For example, if you’ve ever signed up for a retailer’s email, you likely were after a discount or coupon (like 22.6% of subscribers).
But other times, people subscribe to get access to information or content that interests them (42.4%).
When a buyer purchases a good from a brand, there’s an exchange of value: cash for a good. But a value exchange between brand and buyer doesn’t have to limit itself to physical items. Value is whatever we make it.
In this sense, brands have the power to create value beyond their end products and services. The exchange of education, insight, and perspectives can be incredibly valuable to the right consumers. And when the value of those intrinsic goods is high, consumers can be convinced to make an exchange to acquire them.
Essentially, a trade is made by buyer and brand in order for each party to secure what they both want.
This, of course, leads right into email marketing.
When you create something of value—something perceived valuable by your buyer, that is—you can expect to “sell” that value to buyers in exchange for the price of their email.
Of course, you should extrapolate this idea and take it much further than email: When your company delivers on consistency, high quality, outstanding customer service, etc., that value can be exchanged for a buyer’s loyalty.
The key, therefore, is to truly understand the goods (external and internal) your brand creates that are perceived as valuable by your buyers. This requires gathering deep-level insights into who they are and what motivates them.
I think Ian Stockley, author of a good article about value exchanges, summed it up nicely:
“When we start to see the consumer as an individual with their own needs and requirements, then brands can start to evolve the relationship they have with their customers. It takes the brand-consumer interaction from being a solely monetary exchange, and transforms it into an emotional one.”