Only Influencers: Email Marketing’s Exclusive Club

I’m proud to say I’m a member of a rather exclusive online club known as “Only Influencers.” This list/site/community focuses on email marketing, but also discusses other channels such as social and further expansion is planned. Over the past year I’ve been a member, it has repeatedly provided me with great information and insight marketing leaders and visionaries.

I wanted to share this great resource with you and so I emailed Bill McCloskey, the founder, and asked him a few questions.

Can you give us a quick history of Only Influencers?

Bill: Back around 2001 I started a small listserv for people in the digital marketing community called the One Hundred Club. It was really a who’s who of digital marketing at the time. When I founded and launched Email Data Source (now eDataSource), it made sense to create a separate list that focused on email marketing, so in 2005 I started The Inbox Insiders, which was an invitation only list, again, for the who’s who of email marketing.

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How Engaged is Your Brand?

Late last year Alterian surveyed 1,462 marketers around the world at various industry event for their eighth annual survey. The basic question was: How engaged is your brand?

Respondents in this survey agreed with other surveys which found that expectations were that marketing budgets would increase in 2011. In the Alterian survey 48.53% percent of those surveyed expected this. North American marketers were more optimistic about budgets increasing slightly than their European counterparts. 52% of Marketers also expect their digital marketing budgets to increase slightly.

As for engaging customers via their websites, 55% of those responding stated their focus was on campaigns and offers intended to drive interaction on the website. Surprisingly, only 11% stated they personalized each visitor experience to the website. As the report points out, mass marketing over personalization is still the norm. That means most companies are not leveraging the full power of marketing via their websites, social and email marketing.

When it comes to the level of email engagement, the study suggests (and it doesn’t surprise me) that marketers are doing better with personalization in email marketing as compared to other channels. On the up side, 43% segment audiences with different messages. On the down side, only 13% are delivering email based on individual customer preferences with real-time monitoring.

As observed in the report, some email marketers still cling to the idea of hammering the same list over and over again regardless of engagement, thus treating all subscribers the same. If your content is not relevant and you aren’t engaging your subscribers on some level, they aren’t likely to be motivated to do anything other than ignore you or worse, hit that spam button.

I often hear people trying to explain the power of segmenting use Einstein’s quote regarding how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That sums up pretty well the waste of time and effort which results if you don’t use segmentation to optimize your list and increase relevance.

Every single interaction with a customer is an opportunity to engage them. Let me rephrase that! Every single interaction via email (or any channel) MUST engage the user if you want it to accomplish more than some passive branding in an inbox. Even transactional emails can engage and drive more sales if you seize the opportunity.

All of this is overwhelming if you are trying to do it in-house. This is why people are looking for partners offering an integrated cross-channel solution for marketing where the focus is on engaging the customer via the channels the customers choose and not the other way around. I’m quite confident this will be a big trend in 2011 and eventually become the norm – simply because in today’s cross-channel world, it has to be.