Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer and writer. He is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning custom clothing company in Washington, D.C. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190.

The death knell of email marketing is sounded daily from all corners of the business world. We're constantly seeing articles popping up in our news feeds suggesting that a significant percentage of Generation Z doesn't have an email address and that marketing your content is worthless if it isn't shareable.

Although it's true that the proliferation of social media has resulted in countless marketing options with more emerging all the time, the reports of email's demise have been greatly exaggerated. But the dynamics of email marketing are changing. Namely, it's heading toward deep personalization. Over the last year, this has more than doubled our email marketing revenue.

Email marketing can still work for you.

A recent study by McKinsey found that not only is email three times more likely to result in conversion than social media, but the average purchase price is 17 percent higher as well. Email inherently offers several unique characteristics marketers can take advantage of that social media simply lacks.

Since social media is designed for content that is seen by many and shared across diverse networks, it is naturally a better platform for marketing campaigns that are broader in focus. Email, conversely, presents an opportunity to engage your audience with a distinctive, tailored message that serves to nurture a long-term relationship.

The current climate rewards personalization.

Since the average email user receives approximately 121 emails per day, crafting content that stands out from the crowd becomes paramount. Successful email marketing campaigns of the present and future must increasingly rely on personalization in order to drive customer engagement and increase return on investment (ROI). For instance, sales site Gilt.com has over 3,000 iterations of its daily email content, each specifically crafted based on purchase and browsing history.

At Blank Label, we are moving to exclusively utilize customized, context-rich messaging with the intent of facilitating successful repeat purchases from our most valuable customers. These types of emails result in significantly more opens, website hits, and sales conversions when compared to a more generic, mass-produced email campaign. Like most brands, we used to send a single broad email campaign once a week. We'd see 30 to 40 percent open rates and decent click-through rates. But we're selling a personalized, customized product, so we thought our marketing should be geared that way too.

We now send more dynamic, customized emails, rather than generic emails. Most small businesses and startups can do this with an email tool like Klaviyo. We send them all our data, including a customer's name, what they ordered, when they ordered, etc. This way we can send an email like, "Hi Jim, I noticed you haven't shopped with us in a while," or, "The blue shirt you bought three of, we just got another one just like it," or, "Thanks for shopping with us five times this month. Here's a 20 percent discount." We've seen our open rates double with campaigns like this.

Email is still the best tool for customer engagement.

If you need any evidence of the importance of brand loyalty, Accenture found that the top 20 percent of customers contributes 150 percent of a company's profits. No matter which industry you are in, aiming for customer retention is always a good strategy for long-term success. Marketing to existing customers will always be cheaper than trying to attract new ones.

Thankfully, a successful email marketing campaign uniquely positions you to maintain robust customer engagement and mold the campaign to their needs as buying decisions change. Taking advantage of the attributes of an email service provider (ESP) can help you keep track of customer data and segment your buying populations into targeted lists. You can create specific emails for customers who have gone several months without a new purchase, even encouraging them with extra discounts in order to renew the relationship, or you can send specific product information to a group of customers who have historically bought the same item over and over.

It's time to evolve from the old era.

Most criticisms of email marketing are aimed at old practices that have little value in a world with universal mobile broadband access. Traditional email marketing campaigns grew out of the belief that repetition would eventually translate into conversion. In order to achieve this, companies created newsletters or other marketing content designed to be sent out at regular intervals to a mass audience. While repetition can be useful for increasing brand awareness, these types of strategies lead to predictability, and they condition your potential customers to ignore your messages.

While it's true that most companies today can't compete without a strong social presence spread across several platforms, there is still significant marketing ROI to be gained from personalized email campaigns. As digital outlets continue to diversify and become more specialized, it's clear that there's still room in the marketer's toolbox for a well-designed, targeted email campaign that uniquely presents your value proposition to the customer.

Published on: Apr 6, 2016