I spent the second week of February in Palm Desert at the eTail conference and participated in a panel discussion focused on advanced segmentation strategies. Unlike in previous years, the team at eTail set up channel-specific tracks that preceded the usual conference—email and search each had their own rooms, and sizeable crowds looking to learn more from experts in the space.
The search room was especially well attended, with nearly double the number of conference goers as the email room. Now I have done some SEM work in my day, and have the utmost respect for search professionals and the business value they provide. But, as the recent Datran 2008 Marketing & Media Survey illustrates, email often delivers stronger ROI than search. In fact, 55.3% of the survey respondents expected email to outperform all other channels on the basis of return on investment in 2008. Additionally, when asked “which advertising media buys perform strongly for your company,” 80% identified email as a strong performer, compared to 70% for paid search. For this reason, 82.4% of respondents said they will increase their use of email marketing in 2008.
Again, don’t get me wrong here—I am a big search advocate (especially when it’s well integrated with email and other channels), but why were so many more people at eTail interested in search than email?
The reason, I believe, is that most organizations are still missing the boat on resource allocation and shortchanging email. Though email is often more effective at delivering near-term ROI, search still gets a bigger share of budget. Many of the advanced segmentation strategies we discussed at eTail require relatively significant investments of time and resources, and while they deliver excellent returns, it seems as if many of the people I spoke with were facing major resource constraints that prevented them from taking their programs to the next level.
It is our responsibility as email professionals (and evangelists) to ensure that our organizations realize the tremendous value a sophisticated email program can deliver. We need to craft email marketing performance dashboards that are designed for executive consumption—they must be clear, succinct and engaging. We need to keep our managers up to date on developments in the space and the opportunities they present to our businesses. Share the results of the Datran 2008 survey with your senior management. Leverage stats from EmailStatCenter.com in your quest for more budget. And do not take “no” for an answer.
All that is easily said. But I am still feeling a little like Rodney Dangerfield. Will the facts alone earn email the respect (and budget) it so richly deserves? What do you think? What can we in the email world do to get the resources required to drive more sophisticated and profitable programs? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
—Nicholas Einstein of Datran Media