When I talk to Nick Heys, founder of Emailvision, about the past, present and future of email marketing, he comments that we have seen three phases since the beginning of his company.
Phase 1, in the late 1990s, was the beginning of using the email channel for direct marketing. This early period was simply about understanding and learning to use the email tool. Companies sending out emails wanted to know how to build a list, how to design an email, and what to write in the message.
The second phase was more about technology and performance. How do we check the integrity of our lists and insure deliverability? How do we use advanced tools to send targeted messages to “qualified” individuals, or use permission marketing to avoid sending spam? Or, how can we measure the results of our campaigns, track click through, and learn about customer behavior?
Of course, the phases do not apply universally to everyone, as organizations will adopt any technology at their own pace. Some companies today are just discovering the power of email marketing and thus would still be considered neophytes in phase 1. Others may be struggling with the technology solutions of phase 2.
Nonetheless, many companies have now mastered the tools and concepts of the first two phases, and they have thus entered Phase 3, the phase of relevance. In an age when we all are inundated with email, how can a sender craft messages that cut through the clutter, that pass the spam filters, and that the target recipient will open and actually take the time to read?
How do we, as marketers, engage clients and get them to react to our messages? Well, the best way is to write messages that stand out, that hold the recipient’s attention, and that elicit responses. And, the best way to accomplish all of those things is to tell a compelling story.
As Nick says, storytelling will be the new competitive advantage in email marketing. So, I’ll be working with Emailvision to help their clients spread and leverage their stories through the email channel and through social media.
I’ll keep you posted about our progress!