Regardless of B2B or B2C, email continues to rise as an important ingredient in any marketing mix. Let us look at some of the reasons why:
Email is in-your-face Direct Marketing
Consider it the online equivalent of “door-to-door” marketing, but with the caveat that the delivery of that door-to-door pitch actually was based on a reasonable knowledge about the prospects’ age, sex, industry, job title and your current phase in the shopping cycle.
That would make it, at least, relevant to who you are and for what you’re looking, if not your actual mood at that second. All this makes it an indispensable marketing tool, indeed. And all without the timing, gasoline, and shoe polish of an actual visit.
Introduce the brand, especially if it is not local
In most Asian cultures, personal appeal and relating to the audience is typically key in the first impression of the brand than raw information or a sly backhand to competitors, so it cannot be all business and sharp-edged attack.
The warm-up is essential because this is a friendly conversation perhaps even more so than anywhere else is. Positive, familiar imagery, upbeat tone, and authenticity are important factors in creative, to a degree that may not be true of every other market where calculated declarations of political affiliation or biting edgy humor is in vogue this month.
Use culture in creative, but do not let it thwart you
Do not tailor creative to ideas of culture that you really do not adequately understand. Stick to the contemporary mood of the locale when in doubt and keep cultural references simple and clearly distinguishable, relying on local talent and test viewers for inspiration and input before throwing much money into it.
In addition, do not overlook the mood of the generation to which you are appealing primarily, and the mood of the society.
In China and Japan, for example, cute iconic characters are all the rage and communicate something primal and friendly to a brand’s audience that a long commercial just cannot. This might tempt many brands to devise a pan-Asian cuteness campaign.
But wait, both cultures are also fiercely patriotic and often on opposing sides of history. Stumbling through that maze would be catastrophic and most “cuteness” campaigns that work for one culture do not necessarily work for the other. Politics and issues shape commercial consumption in Asia just as in the USA.
Email is key to shopping cycle and your marketing repertoire
Several statistics in the past 12-month cycle demonstrate that direct marketing makes a big impact on consumer shopping behaviors, and that’s something that should make any informed marketer sit up and take notice.
According to the CMO Council, in China alone, 83% of people polled admit to clicking ads online. Moreover, the 26-35 age group within burgeoning China consumer alone, frequently making buying decisions based on reinforced branding delivered via social media shares by friends.
With the emergence of internet entertainment consumption, email will only have more opportunities to capture (and categorize) valuable opt-in list leads. Incentives like opt-in giveaways are part of why opt-in works for email.
Understanding the background of all these complex dynamics is key, so let us dive in:
The relation of branding to direct marketing
Email marketing is direct marketing par excellence. Instead of a postcard, we now get emails that can be re-routed or eliminated if we do not like them.
And instead of randomized bulk mailings based on zip code, or mailing lists based on sold info based on catalogue deliveries, email marketing has the capacity to scope out a true audience based on not only demographics, but purchases and current memberships, as well as online activity and other looped-in opt-in lists. This is ideal for a first branding experience.
Targeting email campaigns
That also means more potential for more targeted direct ad campaigns, and more potential for retargeting ads that follow the user post-click from the initial email call to action.
This is due to the crucial ability to click through to a landing page ready to present a compact and powerful multimedia presentation in about a scalable manner, rather than getting a cursory confused glance and a toss into the wastebasket.
Got a ten-second elevator pitch? It may literally be an elevator ride up to the big meeting that determines whether or not your solution or product is mentioned to decision makers.
Retargeting and social media adaptability
Clicks on the email links can and should contribute to retargeting ads that reinforce and complete the user’s experience of the brand, what they want by virtue of clicking in the first place.
In short: clickers want to know more, and an initial email is often the first step of the journey to a purchase or other desired action, as well as an intermediary or final step.
It also works well with the so-called “earned media” (”word of mouth” via social media hailed by Nielsen as a top-performer in today’s tightly-knit social media climate), and that’s key to understanding email properly as a direct marketing channel.
A share becomes a website view becomes an opt-in, which becomes a fan-of-a-fan as a new list member, and eventually a purchase, potentially starting the entire process over again.
Is there a TV-email tie-in?
Don’t discount the idea. Internet-based TV has established itself so lucratively in relation to pre-existing advertising campaign advertising in North America that Europe and APAC markets like Australia, China, Japan, and South Korea have begun scrambling to jump in in whatever way is most feasible with current trends on solutions like Netflix and Hulu, already stealing massive market share from cable TV channels in recent years in North America.
In China, this is translated as Sohu. A click or even a branding experience typically leads to a website view, post-click, and that coveted opt-in.
Think that matters in front of the largest consumer spending base in history? So does Sohu, apparently. So should you, if you do B2C. The same applies on Youku for B2C product or service presentations.
Rising standards + social have grown engagement
Australia, for instance, had an estimated email open rate of 22.5% with a click-through of 4% in January 2015.
This could be attributed to higher opt-in standards within the online marketing culture as industry movers and shakers like Google, Baidu, and Yahoo strive to fit in with the continually upgrading bottom-line needs of bigger advertisers, a direct result of a more evolved analytics culture growing out of a maturing of big data’s promise.
The audience responds to social media because people are addicted to social media and find it easier to crowdsource its shopping and brand-screening process. That makes social media a natural crossover to email as people opt-in via social media shares.
Email is amenable to web analytics
As analytics solutions flourish and social plays into that emerging reality, there are more and more ways now to gauge the relevance of a list or a single opt-in, filter and re-categorize opportunities to target the same user for alternate opt-in lists via the original opt-in campaigns, and generally grow market share into desired new areas.
Finding the right mix
It is crucial to understand that email is not and never will be a stand-alone all-in-one solution, as is true of any internet-marketing tool. It is, instead, a component of a well-rounded arsenal in the marketer’s tool bag, and one not to be dismissed or underestimated.
It works best when used in close coordination with other channels to promote the same campaign. And with rising click-through rates throughout the Asia Pacific comes more opportunities to further the branding or shopping experience begun elsewhere (Baidu, Yahoo, Youku, Google HK, Weibo, Wechat, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and the rise of popular new apps such as the Chinese taxi app used by virtually every household and busy office worker or executive.