Email still gets results as a marketing tool

Ever since the rise of Facebook and other social media, marketing gurus have been predicting the demise of email as a marketing tool. Like its predecessor direct mail, email gets little respect among thought leaders in the field.

Yet email gets results that other marketing tactics can only dream of. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email campaigns return an average of $43.62 for every dollar spent on them. Internet search ads return $21.85 on the dollar, and direct mail $15.22.

That’s amazing: Email is twice as effective, dollar for dollar, as Internet search ads.

In a recent survey of more than 5,000 marketing executives, email was named the most effective marketing medium. More than 39 percent of the execs called email their top marketing tactic; Internet search was second with 23 percent.

There are many reasons for e-mail’s effectiveness as a marketing tool. It’s a one-on-one connection that leads to immediate action in the form of inquiries, downloads and even sales. It builds and strengthens the consumer’s connection with a product, company or brand. It allows a company to reward loyalty with coupons, discounts and other offers.

One knock on e-mail has been that it’s not as effective at generating new leads as other marketing methods. That may be true, but any marketer knows that the easiest sales are those that come from existing customers.

E-mail allows you to communicate effectively with your current customers, and that more than offsets any weakness of the tactic in gaining new customers.

I’m not saying the gurus are completely off base. Clearly, social media are changing the ways marketers communicate, and that may have a long-term impact on e-mail and how it’s used.

Many theorists envision a world in which we communicate exclusively through Facebook, or something like it — a 24/7/365 social media sea in which everyone swims.

We may wind up there. But at least for the present, let me remind you of one ironic fact: You can’t get a Facebook account without a valid e-mail address.

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