Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss email as the first step in an omnichannel strategy that can skyrocket your traditional or online business.
Despite the hype surrounding social media, email is still the most popular and effective marketing tool for gaining and retaining customers.
Longevity. Of all internet marketing tools, email has been around the longest, which means it had a head start in the race for global users. As a result, those users - and all potential users - have had a long time to get comfortable with the service email provides, and think of that service as a part of everyday life, like telephone, TV, and billboards on the side of the road.
Another reason is success. Email is the top channel driving both leads and conversions, especially when it comes to doing business with other businesses, as well as doing business with consumers who want to do business. In other words, there’s a good reason 80% of businesses use email for retention. It works.
In other words, email is the most trusted, time-tested resource for converting leads into customers.
The Biggest Reason
Those reasons alone make email an essential tool for acquiring and retaining customers.
But while success and longevity are good answers to why email is essential for acquiring and retaining customers, they are not the be-all-end-all, nor the most pressing and relevant answers to why email marketing is so essential today.
In fact, arguably the biggest, most relevant and underrated reason that email marketing is essential to the customer lifecycle is that - at a time when brick-and-mortar stores are shrinking - email is the ultimate marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.
Social media is an excellent channel for increasing brand awareness in marketing and sales, but when it comes to conversions, social media platforms do not lend themselves to customers making buyer decisions.
Email does. If a user is willing to give you their email address, you have already sold them on your journey. And they are certainly willing to listen to your offer, if not entirely willing to buy your product, wherever it may be.
When a customer gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to enter their private online universe. They are also expressing a certain degree of brand loyalty and customer trust that is greater than a like on social media, and greater than or equal to an in-store purchase.
But all this is to say: acquiring a customer’s email by their own permission falls along the same spectrum of customer loyalty as online and in-store shopping. Many customers are willing to give their email addresses during purchase, especially if it means access to promotions and discounts—which is what makes email uniquely suited to being the most suitable marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.
So, instead of worrying about online sales cannibalizing brick-and-mortar sales or vice versa, businesses should see email as a unifying marketing channel, or what’s known as an “omnichannel." In this case, omnichannel marketing is the practice of using online messaging to lead customers to brick-and-mortar stores, and brick-and-mortar messaging to lead customers to online stores, all of which works to keep the customer lifecycle of acquisition and retention alive.
Something to Consider
It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retail stores are closing at a rate that could see 1 in every 4 U.S. malls shuttered by 2022. In 2016, the biggest retailer in the world, Walmart, closed 269 brick-and-mortar stores and bought Jet.com in an apparent bid to expand its online sales.
Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to grow its already burgeoning online sales, and just last month expanded to the point of bursting its own digital bubble by purchasing Whole Foods and entering the brick-and-mortar business, wholesale.
Barring discussions of what all that says about the epic power struggle between Walmart and Amazon—which is impossible to say this early in the game—the expansion of each retailer into the other’s “domain” spells out what we’re seeing in the retail industry as a whole: a contraction for brick-and-mortar, an expansion for eCommerce.
What most businesses would rather see is a balance, which is why the first businesses to adopt an acquisition and retention model that can successfully unify online with brick-and-mortar could be the start of something new.
Why not start with email and add the ultimate marketing omnichannel to your business cycle?
Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about integrating email into your marketing strategy, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.