This sponsored post is produced by Message Systems.

What does email really mean for your business? Everything….and nothing. If an email doesn’t reach your intended recipient at the most opportune time, or isn’t relevant to their needs, it will amount to absolutely nothing. That “nothing” will result in no improvement to your bottom line, your brand awareness will contract ever so slightly, and you will have squandered an opportunity to deliver on whatever promises you made, implicit or explicit, when that recipient opted in to receive your email.

Email matters. It is the common denominator and undisputable link between communication channels that provides us with a complex and holistic view of customer behavior. It must be timely, it must be relevant, and, most importantly, it must be in the inbox.

Once it breaks everyone knows 

You’re probably thinking that one email lost among millions is too miniscule to matter — and that’s where many people go wrong. Think of all the times that an important email went ‘missing’ from a colleague or business associate, or your mother:

A: “I sent you an email yesterday, didn’t you get it?”

B: “Let me check [pause] — hmmmm… no, I don’t see anything.”

A: “Maybe it’s in the junk folder.”

B: “No, I looked, nothing there. What did it say?”

A: “Well it’s too late now…”

And there it is — an opportunity missed because the email didn’t arrive, or worse still, landed in the spam folder.

It must be real-time

Hitting the inbox matters, but equally as important is the speed with which email is sent and delivered. The expectation in today’s fast-paced world is that transactional messages will arrive in seconds, not minutes, after they’re requested. If they don’t, your brand suffers. Just this week I met a co-founder that recently changed email vendors because his previous provider couldn’t generate password resets fast enough — the average delay was 10 minutes — that’s about the length of the Jurassic period on the Internet. Entire species came into being and died off waiting for a password reset to reach the person who requested it.

Connection through familiarity

Chief among the reasons that emails aren’t opened — or even worse — that the unsubscribe button is applied, is lack of relevance: content built on a strategy of inside-out marketing in which the sender assumes to know the mind of the customer with data to back it up, rather than listening and measuring behavior from the outside.

Customers control the conversation; this is an absolute fact, they have options and their actions are measurable. Let that data be your guide.

Laura Ramos, a Forrester Analyst, recently said during a presentation at MarTech in San Francisco that “digital isn’t a line item, it is a way of doing things that will allow your business to flourish.” With email as its beating heart, digital programs bring to bear the data-driven acumen of predictive analytics applied and realized through outbound execution, information culled from website traffic, and other sources.

In addition, email provides its own rich well of clicks, opens, reads, and multi-platform portability and interactivity. This vast body of data re-establishes a kind of one-to-one relationship your grandparents had with their local grocer because it’s now possible to know what someone wants when they want it. Email isn’t just an outbound channel, it’s a wealth of inbound behavioral information and signals that create a dialogue, delivering a personal touch when the customer wants or needs it, even when they themselves don’t realize it.

The market, your brand, and your mother

To bolster a brand, improve awareness, and maximize profits, you need speed, accuracy, and relevance; this is a daunting number of factors and requirements to place on a channel. Underscoring this herculean task is the need to invest in highly specialized resources and careful planning to ensure the systems running your email programs are current in order to deliver value to the recipient and likewise, value to the brand.

Email matters. It’s the most efficient means by which customers connect with brands, and when they go missing, the gap is filled by a competitor’s message. Recently, David Baker very eloquently pointed out that email was recession-proof — he’s right. It’s the one channel that remains proven, measureable, and cost effective. Many initiatives are abandoned in the wake of an economic crisis, but email will never be affected by this, because it is that lowest common denominator that is both highly profitable and universally accessible.

If you haven’t prioritized email within your organization, you’re allowing someone else, in a competitor’s organization, to take their brand further and wider into the marketplace. Your brand may have a presence on the hottest new social play in town, but your mother probably doesn’t. She does, however, have an email account, and right now she’s wondering…did you get her email?

Phillip Merrick is CEO of Message Systems.


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