Can email compete with social media in 2015?

I recently sat down with DJ Kepler, our eMarketing manager here at Moving Targets, about why social media isn’t a threat to email’s future and the importance of optimizing email for mobile devices.

The future of email marketing

Q: Email has been holding its own despite concerns that it would be rendered obsolete by social media. Do you see this continuing in 2015?

A: The reports I’ve read say email’s expected to grow in 2015, and social media is becoming more and more of a complementary advertising channel. In some ways, email is like direct mail marketing in that it’s mostly a direct, one-way channel of communication. Social media on the other hand provides the means for companies to engage and interact with customers both responsively and proactively, so it’s not really apples to apples. A social presence can fall flat if it isn’t maintained, but email marketing will always have a place as long as you have a message to send and recipients to reach.

Q: Many SMBs use email to advertise seasonal promotions. How can they determine the effect of this and pinpoint what to improve next year?

A: I think the biggest thing business owners need to do to determine the success or failure of seasonal promotions is track results using their POS systems, manually counting redemptions or subjectively gauging how busy they were. Don’t assume you’ll remember what worked best either – write down your findings so you know what to do next holiday season.

Q: You said social media is becoming complementary to email, rather than adversarial. How can SMBs use email to enhance their social media campaigns and vice versa?

A: At Moving Targets, we have customers who use both our email programs and our social media marketing. We promote their social media pages through email and put social media icons at the bottom of every message. On social media pages, we include email signup forms. When customers sign up, they receive an email saying, “Thanks for subscribing – here’s a free slice of pizza!” or something like that. The two channels really work together in that sense.

Q: Mobile device adoption looks set to continue rising in 2015. How important is it for email marketers to ensure their messages are mobile-optimized?

A: Two-thirds of people view at least some of their emails on a mobile device, so it’s pretty much a necessity to have your emails mobile-optimized. Responsive design makes the font a bit larger and will rearrange everything so you can read it. Most people, if they can’t read an email quickly, will delete it, so it’s almost essential to make your emails viewable on mobile devices. If they’re difficult to read, chances are that person’s not going to open your next email.

Q: How can SMBs build on the “new year, new start” momentum to engage customers via email?

A: January and February are a good time of year to try new content. If those tactics work well, you’ll know for the rest of the year to use them. Also, make sure to plan out your strategy. Try not to wait until the day you want to send an email before you put it together – maybe come up with a one- to three-month plan of when you’re going to send emails and what content they’ll contain.

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