Why is the use of professional email newsletters and email marketing continuing to grow at such high rates? Reducing marketing costs seems to be a key motivator among many professional service firms. Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective and far-reaching tools available for firms to market their services to prospects and maintain touch points with existing clients. As cost-cutting continues to factor into business practices in a recovery economy, more marketers are looking to stretch budgets and get more impact for dollars spent.
The following is an executive summary from the Forrester report, US Email Marketing Forecast, 2009 To 2014:
“Email adoption and use by consumers and businesses alike remain strong, with 153 million online adults regularly using email by 2014. Social inbox users will total 47 million in 2014, but will ultimately level off based on the blurring lines of the ‘traditional’ versus the ‘social’ inbox. Marketing messages to the primary inbox will swell to an average of more than 9,000 annually in 2014, with retention email making up the largest permission-based share. Email marketing spend will balloon to $2 billion in 2014 with retention email, services, and ad-sponsored acquisition newsletters all representing bright spots. Innovative marketers will rapidly adopt relevancy-empowering tactics to cut through the clutter and avoid wasting $144 million dollars in 2014 on email marketing that never reaches the intended subscriber inbox because of erroneous blocking.”
The Social Inbox Versus the Traditional Inbox
While the email universe continues to grow and evolve, marketers adjust their strategies, hone their skills and focus their efforts in order to maximize reach and effectiveness. Integrating email with other digital channels, such as social media, appears to be the key for continued success. Despite the hullabaloo about social media, recent industry research indicates that email marketing remains one of the most effective tools for marketers.
How effective is it? Effective enough that it been identified as the top area of marketing investment for 2013 (The Wall Street Journal “MarketWatch” – December 2012). According to a survey completed by over 1,000 business leaders, 9 out of 10 business owners plan to increase or maintain marketing budgets this year. Two-thirds of businesses plan to integrate social media and email, with 46% of participants planning to increase their investment in email marketing in order to drive growth of their corporate social media channels (StrongMail “2013 Marketing Trends Survey” – November 2012).
Among business professionals at the user-end who employ both email and social communications to gather information and keep in touch with contacts, many users are routing their social messages and notifications to a frequently monitored business or personal email inbox as a means of consolidating multiple communication channels. Email remains the preferred communication channel for professionals, and this makes the email inbox the ideal place for firms to connect with clients and prospects.
Getting Noticed in the Inbox
Successful client email newsletters will clearly show that the communication is coming from your firm or business. If your clients see your messages as being sent from their trusted business advisor, they will be more inclined to open it. Another key factor in successfully engaging clients and prospects in the inbox is to deliver well-written, relevant, useful content to your recipients. A strong email communications program will allow you to send targeted content to each of your firm’s unique contact groups, industries or subsets.
Creating a Dialogue in the Inbox
The final piece of the puzzle is feedback. Email marketing creates opportunities for your subscribers to respond to your messaging and share your content on their social channels. Email marketing metrics also give you a sense of what people are reading. The better email marketing platforms offer detailed statistics to clearly show what content is effective in your messaging, what is not, who is interested and what interests them. These tools help firms pinpoint additional new business and add-on sales opportunities, and they also open a door to in-person conversations based on perceived need.
Evaluating Your Resources
Professionals have many choices when it comes to budgeting and spending their marketing dollars. Although email marketing continues to excel at delivering trackable opportunities and solid ROI results, take time to determine where you stand, in marketing terms, within your current tools and strategies. The process of evaluating your existing marketing resources can seem like a time-consuming endeavor, but knowing where you stand will help you make informed decisions that move your business growth efforts forward.
Accounting firm marketers should continually seek to benchmark their email marketing metrics against industry standards. What is an average open rate? What click through rate should you strive for? How do your metrics stack up against others in the accounting industry? What can you do to improve your results? You can find out how your CPA firm stacks up in our 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report: CPA Firm Email Marketing Trends & Statistics. This report is designed to help you understand which metrics you should be analyzing, which goals you can set based on other firms like yours, and how your email program is performing overall. We encourage you to gauge your email marketing success not solely on how well you measure up to the statistics provided in this report, but also on how well you provided value to your own clients and prospects, building relationships over time and maximizing conversions and revenue through your email marketing campaigns.