By Colin Darretta, co-founder at DojoMojo and founder at WellPath
We can all acknowledge that competition to build brands and acquire users is fiercer than ever. Whether you are a publisher seeking to get people to read your content for the first time or an e-commerce business trying to build awareness for your product, one thing is certain -- there is more noise out there than ever before. As such, potential readers and consumers are more guarded with their attention than ever before.
While marketing on Google and Facebook might vacuum up headlines and attention, I believe email marketing is quietly experiencing a resurgence. Back in the halcyon days of 2012, according to a Pew research center study, email was still the most utilized app on our mobile devices.
While surely the myriad of new apps to distract ourselves with has eaten into that pie, it is still a big channel. Its value as a marketing strategy lies in its ability to deliver targeted content to consumers in a location where they will digest and engage with what they are reading. Further, according to a 2017 report by PageFair, ad blocker technologies were on the rise with up to 615 million devices installing ad blocking technology. That number is only set to increase.
There are a lot of headwinds for a new digital brand. Consumer attention span is getting shorter, average session lengths are declining across the board, bounce rates are ballooning and shopping cart abandonment rates are increasing. Brands are fighting for an a finite slice of an individual's daily time and attention.
Controversially, Microsoft released a study in 2016 that found that individuals had an eight-second attention span when surfing the web. As Time pointed out, to put that in context, goldfish have a nine-second memory span. Whether or not this is a fair depiction, it is fair that with the ever-increasing number of distractions on the screen, one can assume that attention span is trending down, not up.
Email remains one of the few times when your brand can occupy nearly the entirety of an individual's screen and fully command the eye's attention. The value of this cannot be overstated. Social channels like Facebook and Google trend in the other direction, where even a tiny slice of consumer attention and screen space can cost the advertiser a significant amount.
In real estate, one often hears the refrain "location, location, location." Well, it turns out this idea is equally important in digital advertising. Email allows marketers to deliver a personalized and targeted message that doesn't fight with tons of other visual stimuli to control viewer's attention. As a larger segment of the population turns to mobile for all of their digital needs, email's screen command becomes even more pronounced and important.
Further, checking email is a well-established daily habit that consumers already make time for in their increasingly busy schedules. Global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. estimates that office workers spend 28 percent of their workweek perusing email. It should come as no surprise that email thus remains a crucial channel for brands to communicate with both active and potential customers.
Rather than dismiss email as a tactic of yesteryear, marketers today have the opportunity to take the contrarian approach and divert time and energy into making email a key tenet of their overall marketing and advertising strategies. Targeted emails amplify a brand's message and permit it to speak directly to the consumer in a way that other digital marketing tactics simply do not allow for.
All of this coincides with the fact that email inboxes are getting less crowded. I read in marketer Jimmy Daly's newsletter that as offices move to Slack, Trello, Flow and other productivity tools and as our personal communications increasingly move into iMessage and WhatsApp, our inboxes are becoming increasingly devoid of clutter. On top of that, major email providers are getting better at keeping spam out of our inboxes.
There are many email marketing best practices -- certainly too many to comprehensively list here. That said, as a general rule of thumb, great email marketing succeeds at the three Es: engage, educate and empower.
Building a powerful email list is a marathon, not a sprint. As such focus on providing the kind of content that adds value to your readers lives across multiple dimensions. With devout readers you'll have opportunities to advertise whatever it is you're selling time and again, all without ever spending expensive paid advertising dollars.
Fortunately, it's never been easier to build an audience. Tools have made it easier than ever to build email captures throughout your product, offer email gated whitepapers, run sweepstakes with partners with similar audiences and cross promote your content.
So, what are you waiting for?
Colin Darretta is co-founder at DojoMojo and founder at WellPath; former private equity at CI Capital and investment banker at Goldman Sachs.