woman sending lots of emails

Email Marketing Isn’t Sexy—but You Can Still Make It Your Secret Weapon

By: Jon Chang, Adjunct Professor of Social Media and Web Analytics, NYU

February 6, 2019

The most exciting and challenging part of digital marketing is simply keeping up with constantly changing technology, trends, and strategies. One digital marketing discipline, however, hasn’t changed nearly as much as its peers: email marketing. What’s holding it back?

1 Inbox, 1 format

Jon Chang

Jon Chang, NYU Adjunct Professor of Social Media and Web Analytics, and Product Marketer at IBM Watson

Unlike marketing disciplines like search, social media and display, email messages are delivered to a single placement in only one standard format. Think of these limitations as compared to the wide diversity of placements of the Facebook network, which includes Stories, Newsfeed, Canvas, Live, et al. Those Facebook network placements help marketers and advertisers curate posts and messages to the unique journey stage of each user, which, in contrast, makes email marketing seem dull and basic. But don’t be fooled, because email is alive and thriving.

Once marketers accept the simplicity of email marketing, an exciting strategy can be crafted around its foundational aspects: a one-on-one relationship with the user, the potential to hyper-personalize messages and ease of predicting user behavior.

Lean into simplicity

The primary strength of email marketing is the relationship it allows marketers to build with subscribers. Legally, subscribers must consent and opt into email marketing messages from businesses. At this point in the user journey, the subscriber is already warmed to the brand, explicitly providing the marketer with unique personal information in the sign-up form (i.e. location, interests, and industry), and is actively asking for messages from the brand.

Now, it’s up to the email marketer to deliver on the subscriber’s expectations, knowing the user will only access emails in a single email client like Gmail or Outlook, without the complexity of multiple creative unit types. These limitations reduce the possible performance variables to a small handful, which helps email marketers focus solely on timing, segmentation and messaging.

Bottom line

Use these simple email components to focus initiatives on a small handful of performance variables, deliver hyper-personalized messages based on the explicit personal information subscribers provide and use every email as a way to further build a strong relationship with each subscriber. Pairing this with a social media strategy is the most effective way to turn new users into loyal advocates.

Follow Jon: @Changahroo

At The Social Shake-Up