• October 2, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Email Marketing Needs to Keep Up with Mobile

Email continues to be one of the most widely used marketing channels among small and midsized businesses (SMBs), largely because of its low cost and immediacy. However, in the face of stiff competition, channel proliferation, and greater spam protections, it is critical for SMBs to execute precision campaigns to enhance email marketing effectiveness, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

"Customers today are impatient, so you need to grab their attention and give them what they need, quickly," says Brendan Read, a Frost & Sullivan information and communication technologies industry analyst and author of the report, titled "Boosting Small and Midsized Businesses' Email Marketing Effectiveness."

In the report, Read suggests that the lack of consumer patience, coupled with their use of mobile devices—and the small screens that come with them—"puts a premium on content, the subject line, and the targeting."

"With the smaller form factor, every word has to count. Every link has to count," Read says. "You don't have the same luxury of space as you used to have on a desktop."

Content, therefore, has to be "sharp, concise, and best-suited to the smaller screens," he adds.

The mobile environment is also characterized by greater consumer protections against spam and unwanted communications, so Read emphasizes the need for businesses to get permission from consumers, who ideally would opt in to receiving such messages. Messages also have to be able to make it past most spam filters, he adds.

The same conditions are placing added pressures on vendors of email marketing technologies, who will have to continue to refine their platforms. Among the latest innovations are tap reminders and working marketing messaging into transactional and customer care emails.

This will prove crucial as marketing emails compete with each other, as well as with nonmarketing emails and other channels, for limited customer attention, Read says.

Among the emerging channels that could compete with email are chat apps and instant messaging. While enterprises will readily take advantage of these new channels, SMBs must look to use these tools to communicate and market to customers as well.

Because of this, Read says email marketing has to be integrated into other marketing material. "The same message that you're sending in email has to be available on the Web, in mobile apps, and in social media," Read says. "The message has to be consistent across channels."

Despite the many challenges, email marketing remains "a vital tool for SMBs," Read points out. "It's a very affordable, effective means of customer outreach," he says.

And it's gaining in popularity among larger enterprises, Read says. "They’re looking now for the same benefits that SMBs have been getting—basic functionality at an affordable price," he says.

But still, email marketing's future is not guaranteed. If current challenges are not addressed, email "could shift from being dominant to limited," he warns. "Therefore, it is imperative that steps are taken to develop email capabilities."

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