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You’ve Still Got Mail
By: Ted Curtin
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Marketers can be a lot like guppies: always swarming like a school of simple-minded fish, chasing that next shiny new object. It’s not an easy way to stand out from the crowd. If you’re interested in differentiating your product or service while effectively delivering a message, you’d be wise to not just aimlessly follow the masses.

There’s a lot to be said about new technologies that allow us to expand our marketing reach while further targeting specific demographic groups, market segments, and geographic regions. These new technologies have opened up the door to delivering new levels of customized, contextually relevant content. But before you put all of your resources towards the next great marketing trend, be mindful of the value of a diversified marketing mix.

To paraphrase a famous quote by Mark Twain, “Reports of email’s death are greatly exaggerated,” email is still the number one form of targeted personal communication today, and while the tolerance for irrelevant and impersonal messaging might be at an all-time low, the value of delivering meaningful content to an interested audience is only increasing.

It’s a history that we’ve seen repeated before in the world of marketing. During the '80s, advances in computerized printing technologies opened the door to a direct mail boom that some thought would reduce the value of mass-media advertising — only to find out later that the two proved to be quite complementary. With the web, we saw a succession of new opportunities from banner ads, pay per click (PPC), custom landing pages, and search engine optimization (SEO) all getting their time in the spotlight. 

When email marketing first exploded onto the scene, the promise of personalized, custom messaging — for very little cost — attracted a slew of marketers and service providers, drawn to the low cost and high potential reach. Some feared that email’s personalization potential would further unseat mass marketing with its inherent waste and untargeted reach but, for all of the hype, too many marketers took the easy way out and proceeded to batch and blast semi-generic e-marketing with personalization that barely extended beyond “Dear Susan,”. 

The intent is not to discount the value of new technologies and channels — quite the opposite. The cell phone brought with it the personal channel of SMS text messaging and the recent boom in smartphone technologies has given rise to a world of mobile App possibilities to interact with customers through their iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android smartphone and tablet devices. These new channels offer exciting opportunities to connect with and engage our customers. The message has turned into a dialogue and if we’re doing our jobs well, our customers are now some of our most effective promoters. The key to an effective marketing plan is a well-balanced mix of channels that can effectively deliver your message to the customer.

Email might not be the end-all and be-all that some originally predicted, but it does have an important place in the overall mix of communication channels. Marketers looking to revisit email marketing opportunities must realize that the new channels have raised the bar, and consumers have much higher expectations of relevance and meaningful interactions. With the abundance of new data and customer information at hand, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

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About the Author
Ted Curtin is a recognized strategic marketing leader with over 22 years experience covering online and offline marketing channels. Follow him on Twitter or at TedCurtin.com
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