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New Study: Email Marketing Actually Works?!

new-study-email-marketing-actually-worksIt’s obvious to most of us now that the digital space is a must for businesses to connect with their consumers. The cool kid in town is social media; there are a lot of deals and steals advertised on the various channels, and there’s even been some growth of transactions via social media, otherwise known as social commerce. However, a new study from Custora asserts that as far as customer acquisition goes, especially the Lifetime Value of customers, other channels are doing it better. Curious? Let’s take a look at the findings.

Search isn’t dead.

According to Custora’s study, organic search still leads the way as the largest channel for online customer acquisition, accounting for 15.81% of total customers acquired. This has risen from 10.35% in 2009 (although it is down from 16.22% last year).

The continued general growth of customers acquired via search reinforces the emerging content marketing orthodoxy: producing relatable editorial content is a value-add to retailers’ marketing efforts. It puts gets your brand in front of those Google web crawlers and, hopefully, if you've got decent content and relavent keywords, onto the search results pages of your consumer. While the fate of keyword optimization is a tale debated across the blogosphere, it should not be ignored. Keywords are still relevant, and it’s money well spent for brands to invest in keyword research and tracking (HTTPS encryption be damned). Just remember that quality content is always a must. 

Email Marketing - the real cool kid?

While sometimes over-shadowed by social media (the presumptive cool new kid in town) email marketing appears to be making its way back into the hearts of the consumer and marketer once again.

Basically, email is the hipster kid who listened to The Beatles before Target started selling t-shirts with the British heartthrobs on them. 

There are many posts on the success of marketing's very own hipster; the Custora study serves to further underscore the power of email. For example, the study found that customer acquisition via email marketing has quadrupled in the past four years. While it's still about 10% behind search, that’s an extreme growth rate, one that search hasn’t had in a long time. So, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: brands, especially retailers, would do well to invest in email marketing.

Social commerce isn’t taking off...yet.

It looks like customer acquisition via social media is a major fail, at least for right now. The study reports that Twitter has seen less than a 0.01% growth in the customer acquisition department since 2009. The customers it does acquire aren’t good ones, either. The Lifetime Value, or the future profit a company expects to earn from a customer throughout their relationship with the business, of those customers acquired via Twitter is 23% lower than average. Twitter may still be a good channel to generate buzz about promotions, but don’t expect it to provide a huge payoff. 

However, while customer acquistion directly on social media sites like Twitter isn't exactly rocking, social commerce species like Groupon and LivingSocial have found success through the sharing power of social media. I'll be watching social commerce on all fronts; my bet is that it will take off in the future. 

The Takeaway

While at times the Custora study reads a bit like a broken record (especially if its your job to pore over similar studies all day), there is some value to hearing these stats over and over again (I swear, it's not nagging!). A brand must engage on the digital space because that’s where their consumers are, and while most of us marketers are ourselves exhausted by our over-crowded email inboxes, apparently this email stuff really works.

Who knew? 

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