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Yesterday’s Killer App, Email, Can be a Killer in Marketing

killer app email

Back in the 1990s, the Neanderthal Days of the internet, email was the killer app. Welcome to 2023.

An Optimove February 2023 survey of 450 consumers revealed that email could catch a consumer’s attention when they shop online 33% of the time. It just edged out social media at 31%, followed by text at 13% and online ads at 12%.

catch your attention killer appWhile consumer preferences vary greatly depending on location, cultural background, and personal choices, email is no longer “the killer app.” Instead, it is one communication channel where marketers can connect with consumers. The question for marketers is what to use, when, and where.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn use varies by age.

According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of consumers who use at least one social media site by age is as follows:

  • 18-29:  84%
  • 30-49:  81%
  • 50-64:  73%
  • 65+: 45%

Plus, instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger can help engage with customers in real-time and provide customer service.

In-app messaging and push notifications can be effective for app-based businesses to

communicate with and retain their user base. Ultimately, the most effective marketing communication app (or channel) will vary depending on the specific context and goals of the marketing campaign. Marketers must choose the most appropriate platform for reaching their target audience and achieving their goals. If marketers don’t know the consumer’s preferred channel – the cost can be losing a customer.

Marketing messages that are irritants

Email, text, and social media can irritate consumers. The same February 2023 survey of consumers revealed that text is the most annoying channel when receiving marketing messages at 53%, followed by email at 21%.

marketing messages annoying

While the “killer app” email is a powerful tool, there are better choices for some marketing campaigns.

Dedicated email service providers (ESPs) such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Hubspot are designed to help marketers manage and interact with clients, customers, and other interested parties via automated emails. But they do not go far enough. Each is limited because they need more in-depth personalization technology.

To better personalize their emails, email point solutions have tried (with mixed results) to bolster their data capabilities – they understand that for marketers and brands, a significant factor in effective marketing is deep, real-time, comprehensive, customer data.

Limited first-and second- party data access is limiting 

The owner of most first- and second-party data is the brand, not email client services. Deep data from a customer data platform (CDP) enables more creativity with marketing emails. Brands can highly personalize the email, knowing the products and services the recipient is interested in, rather than just being able to use the person’s first name. But email marketing platforms trying to incorporate such data are mediocre at best. In a world where marketers are seeking seamless integration of customer data and precision execution, these are often jerry-rigged at best.

The truth is that many marketers themselves have only limited access to granular personalized data. Few are able to seamlessly begin all communications from the insight of a CDP. Their ability to finely target marketing campaigns is limited if communication does not start with the customer’s needs first.

Even if some marketers have a CDP and granular data, they are often held hostage by a data team. Marketing could be the data team’s second or third priority, leaving the marketer wanting.

Marketers’ tools at their fingertips may be archaic compared to the consumer’s expectations today. Marketers need to know what each customer is shopping for right now. They need to know if that customer needs help and guidance. They need to know the customer’s preferred communication channel at the moment.

Marketers with unfettered access to robust data within all their marketing communications platforms are empowered. They do not have to wait for the data team to provide the information. They segment the data any way they want to develop unique, compelling, effective marketing campaigns.

Tear Down Point-Solution Communication Silos

Further, an email client may bifurcate the critical customer data obtained from communications in social media marketing, text messaging, in-app communication, and more. Silos can create disjointed, unproductive marketing campaigns rather than comprehensive marketing campaigns that emanate from a single source of truth of each customer’s interaction with a brand. But without comprehensive analytics, you can double-count items as messages opened. The same customer might open a different message in more than one channel. There are other statistical anomalies as well.

Having a single source of truth enables brands to reach very finely targeted customers/prospects with finely tuned messages in their channels of choice. It tears down communication silos.

Dedicated email marketing platforms offer some value, but in a silo, that value remains limited. Comprehensive marketing that delivers finely tuned messaging and deep personalization requires 2023 systems that provide integrated data and messaging capabilities across email, SMS, in-app messaging, and social media. After all, email, the killer app of yesteryear is still powerful – but used in a silo only, that thinking is so 1990s.

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