As president of digital marketing agency MediaWhiz, a Hyper Marketing Inc. agency, Ed Kats is responsible for overseeing everything that goes into helping clients drive profitable digital marketing programs. Kats spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher about the online marketing tactic that holds the majority of successful digital marketing campaigns together: email marketing.
eMarketer: Given that you’re a full-service digital marketing agency and you focus on a variety of channels, including search, display, affiliate marketing, social and email, how important is email to the online marketing mix?
Ed Kats: Email is absolutely an integral part of our online marketing tool chest. It’s by far one of the most profitable, ROI-focused media channels that we use, based on how deeply we can target. The better we’re able to overlay that consumer information [on] our email marketing, the better we are at creating effective programs, which integrate well with other media such as social.
For example, if you’re doing [customer relationship management] work today, social goes hand-in-hand with email as a CRM tool. Email is a big driver of the beginning of the customer conversation, and social media is a natural channel for following up and continuing that conversation.
eMarketer: What are some of the ways you incorporate targeting into your email marketing programs?
“[I]t’s really about having the right messaging and trying to drive that one-to-one marketing experience.”
Kats: We’re looking at consumer behavior patterns, through display or through some other channel response, whether it’s social or otherwise. We’re then segmenting the data based on those behavior patterns we see and what we know about them in order to remarket to them more effectively.
If you think about any good direct marketer and the programs they are pulling together and building, it’s really about having the right messaging and trying to drive that one-to-one marketing experience. It’s simple enough if you have preference centers and customer information.
But there’s also data overlays and opportunities to look at what the customer has done online and offline in the past through cookie pooling. This type of data allows marketers to dive significantly deeper into what a customer’s interests might be—whether that’s casual wear or suits and formal wear. And if you’re a retailer, you don’t want to send an email or serve an ad for something a consumer has no interest in.
eMarketer: We’ve seen some data that suggests younger demographic consumers are less reliant on email, preferring instead to correspond with friends over chat and text. What are your thoughts on this trend and its potential effects on the future efficiency of email?
Kats: In terms of time spent with text and chat vs. email, I can understand this trend. But in terms of ROI, I don’t see email’s effects changing. Places like email and social are still going to be places where consumers go to learn and gain information.
I think email will remain an ideal channel for brands to have a continuous conversation with consumers and continually message the consumer in a meaningful, thoughtful way. Look at the recent development with Facebook making users’ Facebook accounts their primary email. They know that social media is a place where consumers interact, and email is the place where consumers make purchases, so they’re trying to capture that wallet share. It makes complete sense to me they would try to capture wallet share and look to drive the user experience up and their conversion rates up.
“Email will continue to thrive so long as marketers strive for integration with other channels and a better understanding of the data points.”
Within social, there’s so much clutter, and it can be hard to hear through the noise. It makes sense they would want to have a location where consumers can come back to specific conversations and content to review, learn and then make follow-up decisions. It’s clear that everyone sees that as a big value driver.
I’ve been hearing email pronounced dead every year for the last 20 years, but every year its performance stays strong. Email will continue to thrive so long as marketers strive for integration with other channels and a better understanding of the data points. They can effectively message the consumer with the things they care about in the manner and time they expect to be messaged.
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.
Check out today’s other articles, “Overcoming the Mobile Research-Booking Gap” and “Facebook Dominates Social Media in Mexico.”