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August 14, 2012, 7:02 am UTC
Digital advertising is at its epitome today - each day we are dawned with some new innovation in the form of dotcoms or campaigns or e-mailers in our inbox. These not only grab eyeballs but also have a substantial conversion rate. E-commerce companies are a dime a dozen today, but very few have been able to actually cash in on the revolutionary concept. Companies like SnapDeal, Myntra, MyDala, Fashionandyou have all managed to attain optimal success not simply out of the sales but also with thoroughly calculated and designed email marketing campaigns. According to experts, e-commerce companies budgets for Email Marketing campaigns has been growing tremendously; increased by 100 % this year. Given below is a graph presented by Octane’s Research that explains the primary online activities as per India Marketers in 2011.
(Online Marketing Activity in 2011 as per India Marketers)
In 2011, email marketing topped the list of online marketing activities with social media following closely at 26% and website development at 21%. Search marketing was less favored marketing activity at 19% and videos & webcasts lost to the more direct media. However, in 2012, the scenario seems to have changed drastically with an increase in social media campaigns as well as a lot of email marketing campaigns coming up almost every day! Like 2011, social media and email marketing still remain on top priority of the marketers’ mind.
Jacob George, Co-founder of iCubes, a dedicated Email marketing solution provider, explains the importance that marketers give to this mode of communication, “In India where we are witnessing an explosion in the Internet penetration, the investments into email marketing programs are also showing an equal growth trajectory. A quick glance at the list of the corporate houses getting into the email marketing bandwagon will itself depict the value they assign to email as a marketing tool. Evolution of new business models like daily deals and the entry of reliable Global Email Technology service providers also led to a massive momentum in the email marketing spending in India in the last 2 years.”
Commercial email marketing is one of the top notch and best channels for marketers. According to this year’s Direct Marketing Association’s Power of Direct economic impact study, email marketing will finally surpass search, display, social networking and mobile in the current year. It has already driven $576 billion in sales last year compared to direct mail’s $630.5 billion. And while email’s ROI is fairly catching up, it is bringing in Rs 30.56 for every rupee spent on it. This is compared to catalogs ROI of Rs 7.30, search return of Rs 22.24, Internet display advertising’s return of Rs 19.72 and mobile’s return of Rs 10.51. It is the highly effective marketing medium over all other digital marketing communication channels be it social networking, mobile marketing. Experts expect digital channels to continue to increase their share of marketing budgets to 21% in this year. The total spend on digital marketing has increased many folds since 2006, out of which e-mail marketing contributes maximum.
Samarth Saxena, Co-founder of Octane Marketing Pvt Ltd says that both email marketing and social networking are on the same ground, “We don’t think either one actually trumps the other. We see them as symbiotic in nature and the way the two platforms have been converging over the last couple of years, we have actually been able to see trends which point out to the fact that closer integration between them is the way to go. ‘Our e-Marketing Research Report 2012’ clearly suggests that Social Media and Email Marketing emerged as the top two online marketing initiatives that will see an increase in marketing investments in 2012. Social media is gaining moment fast but email continues to be the most effective marketing channel. According to our research, 18% of Indian marketers already see the importance of integrating email and social media campaigns in 2012 and about 80% agree that integrated campaigns have an effect on conversion rates,” says Saxena.
However, like everything has it pros and cons, even email marketing has its advantages and disadvantages. Many people do not really like daily updates or emails from these E commerce portals and this ultimately results in many people unsubscribing. “Different companies formulate different strategies based on what they think will work best for them but we have seen that many times, that might not be the best for their customers. Online retail and e-commerce companies in India are among the top 5 industry verticals in terms of e-marketing investment due to the scale of their operations but we believe that daily mailing is only useful in very few scenarios and for a majority of e-commerce companies, it is not sustainable in the long run. In fact, we suggest that the frequency of emailing should be decided by the user. While signing up a subscriber, an option must be provided to select the frequency of communication and the kind of marketing campaigns that the user would like to receive. This tends to raise the value of your mailers for the customer because they receive information based on their interests and at their convenience,” says Saxena who believes it is solely on the user’s discretion.
Email marketing puts the ability to connect with potential and existing customers at the touch of a button. Despite this simplicity, however, deciding how to approach and manage the process of email marketing can still be a challenge for businesses looking to leverage the channel to communicate competently and achieve a high return on investment.
Samarth Saxena further elaborates the significant changes that Email marketing has witnessed over the years and will continue in the coming years. He lists down some of the significant changes that Email Marketing has seen over the last couple of years and with advancements in technologies and adoption of best practices, marketing campaigns have also evolved considerably:
- ISP level policy changes in deliverability require that campaigns now follow certain guidelines and meet some basic value criteria for deliverability.
- There has been great advancement in SPAM filtration tools and policies and marketers have had to adopt techniques that are more closely aligned with acceptable best practices to ensure successful campaigns.
- There has been an upswing in permission based email marketing that delivers better results and ROI.
- Content has gained more value and campaigns are designed to be measureable in terms of impact and relevance.
- There has been an increase in integration of email campaigns with social media campaigns to achieve greater reach and impact. Cross platform value addition is now aimed to improve conversion rates and build larger subscriber lists.
Like any other marketing practice, email marketing is also constantly evolving and as online marketing industry matures in India, we will continue to see changes in the manner in which email marketing campaigns are planned and executed. With a well-planned email marketing campaign based on demographic propositions and smart tactics, e commerce companies can not only maintain uniformity but also create a healthy database for future growth because what the experts truly believe that delivering mail is not a task, but a good conversion rate adds to the success of any e-mail marketing campaign which is only possible with a smart e-mail marketing strategy.
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