Email Marketing Just Isn’t Enough

Before I get started on this post, a disclaimer: I love email marketing. It’s a great tool to engage with and nurture your leads, making it a crucial part of turning leads into customers.

But email marketing, on its own, is not enough. In fact, if you rely solely on your emails as part of your digital marketing efforts, you may be in for a rude awakening. So keep reading to learn about the importance of supplementing your campaigns, and taking a more holistic approach to digital marketing.

3 Reasons Email Marketing Is Not Enough

1) You Need Recipients

The first reason you should not isolate email marketing is relatively simple. If all you do online is send emails, where will you get the recipients?

The best email lists will always be the ones you generate organically. In fact, many email clients actually forbid marketers to send messages to recipients who have not actively opted in, removing that option as a possibility.

And regardless of how good your emails are, or how receptive your list is, you’re always going to have to deal with people unsubscribing with every email you send. Thus, if you only send outbound emails and don’t think of organic ways to refill the list, it will eventually disappear due to opt-outs.

So if email marketing is your only online activity, and you don’t purchase list (again, I would recommend you don’t), chances are your email lists will be small.

2) Competing In The Noise

Even if you do have a respectable email list to send your messages to, chances are those messages will get lost in the increasing noise that dominates email clients these days.

The average person receives 121 emails per day, and will likely delete the vast majority of them before even giving them a chance. There is a better-than-average chance that your email will be one of them, getting lost in a recipient’s trash folder before ever being read.

In fact, most organizations have installed firewalls and spam rules specifically to block unsolicited emails.

Logan Johnson, a Senior Network Engineer for ITA, an IT management firm located in Dallas Texas, explains some of the steps companies are taking to block emails.

“Many of our clients have email spam pretty high up on their pain point list. And while it doesn’t expose them to security breaches as much as other IT issues, it’s still something we set up for almost all of our clients. And what’s funny, is that it’s one of the top services our clients appreciate. Email marketing is going to continue to be harder and harder to accomplish without opt-in lists.”

So, if there are groups like ITA that provide services specifically designed to halt email marketing, you had better have something else up your sleeve.

Competing with email means competing in a field of ever-increasing noise and roadblocks. It can be successful, but should not be your only chance to reach your potential customers.

3) Negligible Results

And even if you have navigated both of the first two hurdles successfully, email marketing may still not yield the results you’re looking for.

Think about it: in most industries, your benchmark for success is likely to be a 30% open and 3% click-through rate, and the reality is generally lower. If you send an email to 200 subscribers, that means you want about 60 to open them, and 6 to click through.

And if we go one level deeper, you now need to get those 6 clicks to actually convert on the page where you send them. Which you’ll be lucky to achieve a 30% conversion rate. Meaning, your entire campaign netted you two conversions which now have to go through the sales process. In the end, you might end up with nothing to show for your emails.

Is an email with that type of return really worth your investment?

It Is If It’s A Piece Of The Puzzle

The answer to the above question, of course, is that it can be. As I mentioned in the introduction, I love email marketing — but only if it is integrated into the rest of your digital marketing strategy. And here are 3 ways that can help you do just that.

1) Focus On Social Lead Generation

First, you need to make sure to get enough recipients to help the success benchmarks I mentioned above work out in your favor. Imagine the same example above with 1000 recipients, and the numbers — 300 opens, 30 click-through actions — look much more promising.

Fortunately, social media offers you a variety of ways to help increase your lead generation, as I outlined in an earlier article. Through Facebook link and lead ads, you can entice your target audience to sign up for your email newsletter, allowing them to enter your database.

These users have now opted in, and expect quality content in return. Now, you can begin marketing to them via email to slowly nurture them toward becoming customers. And because they made the active decision to join your email list, they will be more likely to look for your emails in their crowded inbox.

2) Market Your Content

Second, you have to create high-quality content that would entice your audience to take action. The importance of that content is two-fold: one, it drives users toward signing up and becoming leads, and two, you can use it to enhance your individual emails.

You can accomplish the first with ‘gated content’ on your website behind a sign-up form through which you receive your audience’s contact information. The second is relatively straightforward. An email in which you highlight helpful content will always outperform one in which you simply promote your services and expertise.

Another awesome vehicle for promotion is a webinar. I’ve talked about webinars may times before, but they really do work, both in B2C (webcasts) or in B2B.

Andy Jensen, the CMO of Curve Dental, knows the power of webinars well.

“Dentists don’t have a ton of free time on their hands. To generate and keep them engaged our content must be edgy and fun. Even so, it takes a lot of effort to not put tired content into our email marketing. To keep things fresh, we leverage webinars and promote those heavily to our email lists. We always see higher engagement rates with our webinar messages than any other type of email.”

3) Engage in Retargeting

Your email message can also be more successful if you supplement it with ads that reinforce your messages. Advanced retargeting (such as CRM Retargeting) enables you to do just that, showing Facebook ads to your email list subscribers that can remind them to check their inbox, promote the same content, and more.

By now, you probably know that one touch with your target audience is not enough to convince them to become customers. The more often you show them a consistent message in a variety of media, the more likely they will be to convert.

Using social lead generation, creating and marketing high-quality content, and engaging in advanced or custom targeting can all help increase the success of your email marketing.

Marketers consistently rate emails among their most successful digital marketing methods. But I’d be willing to bet that these marketers do not use the tool in isolation, instead supplementing it with various social and content-oriented tools to increase its success.

In the end, email marketing is just that — a tool to help you succeed. On its own, it probably won’t lead to much. But in combination with others, it can be a powerful aid in helping you achieve success in digital marketing.

This post originally appeared on my Forbes column.