I have no data, so will email marketing be cost-effective and how do I start?
It’s worth thinking long term as email marketing generally offers the best ROI, aided by SEO

According to our research email marketing delivers by far the best Return on Investment (ROI) of any Marketing channel – a pole position it’s held for some years. Yet surprisingly it only ranks 5th as the largest category of expenditure (behind older more established mediums such as TV, Print, and Direct Mail) and young upstarts like Google. In case you are wondering our specialism, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in 6th place and both channels are growing at around 3% per annum.

Why so low I hear you cry? It’s all because old habits die hard.

Whilst it’s true to generalise that most older advertising mediums are either in decline each year or are stagnant and most new media channels are enjoying buoyant growth (on average up 11% per annum), with such a head start it will take a while for the old channels to disappear completely if in fact they ever do. Our belief is once something is out of fashion some bright Marketers will of course reinvent and reinvigorate old techniques simply to help their business stand out again ahead of the crowd – so we will probably forever have a mix of old and new to contend with.

But surely we’d still expect the number one performer to be doing a bit better than fifth place and just 8% or thereabouts of all Marketing spend?

There are of course many kinds of email ranging from normal customer/client/supplier relationships of a one-to-one nature, incoming email, through to mass marketing techniques to prospective customers and it is this latter area, Outbound Marketing that concerns us today.

One reason for this failure to launch as much as might be expected of outbound email is for the simple reason that not all businesses have people they can mail out to in bulk. They might be new companies, new departments, or new product areas, they may simply have failed to collect the email addresses of customers (or as is more likely failed to collect the correct usage authorities), they may simply have failed to get around to it due to the complexity of running good campaigns with high deliverability rates.

The days of buying a spam list of 5 million people for £50 are thankfully mostly behind us and the only way to legitimately email prospective customers is to have already opened up a dialogue with them. In short, if you want to reap the huge ROI advantages (due to the low cost per unit) of outbound email, you need to already know the customer, to a degree.

This is where SEO fits in and is one reason why as an industry it sits just behind email as a top performer from an ROI perspective.

For businesses that don’t have an email prospect list they can market too, one way to get one is to start getting your website, articles, blogs, white papers, opinion pieces, etc found online and then collect the email addresses of people who want to connect to you in some way. Once they have expressed a legitimate interest in you, you have a legitimate opportunity for a regular dialogue with them via email.

SEO then helps again as if their interest is piqued by an email and they visit later, but forget the precise URL or lose the link, they have a better chance of finding you when searching if you have a well optimised website and contents. And with both SEO and email delivering Cost Per Acquisition figures which generally drop over time (whereas in most Marketing channels costs escalate), it’s a great mix within the broader Marketing Mix.

In essence, then email marketing and SEO go hand in glove, it’s one reason why our former SEO agency, netcallidus, was acquired by dotMailer and rebranded dot-SEO. To this day if you want a good manager for an outbound email marketing campaign, we still recommend dotMailer / dot Digital.

With email you don’t just need an ability to craft and send nicely structured virtual mailers, you need to ensure they get delivered to your prospects’ inbox safely which is a skill way beyond normal IT developers, web designers, and the like – just like SEO, its highly specialised.

So we commend everyone to consider email marketing as a big part of your strategy and dotMailer if you need a good supplier. And if you don’t have lists of people to mail, forget trying to find spam lists and start building your profile online legitimately via high-quality SEO.