While social media may get all the attention, the fact is that good old faithful email is still better for many things — email hosting is still largely used by businesses to keep employees connected, for example. However, few might guess that email is actually a far more effective marketing tool than Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert), but if you take a second to think about it, it makes sense.
Retailers from practically every industry still use email frequently for a reason: this method works. It's much easier to tailor information to specific customers through email, for one — something social media advertising has difficulty doing. That's a big part of the reason why email outperforms social media advertising three to one, a figure calculated by the Direct Marketing Association.
This information is especially important during the holiday shopping season which, according to the National Retail Federation, will see sales rise 4.1 percent to around $586.1 billion. Indeed, according to a survey of marketing professionals conducted by eCircle, more than 40 percent of respondents said email is "very important" for driving sales, making it the most important channel. Social media meanwhile, ranked fourth behind SEO and SEM with 20 percent.
As stated, it's email's ability to deliver targeted marketing that makes it so effective. For example, Home Depot sends emails that incorporate customer preferences and prior behavior because, according to the company's Chief Marketing Officer Trish Mueller, it's 10 times as effective as general marketing blitzes. Meanwhile, retailer Williams-Sonoma said that its email and browsing data is extensive enough to send product recommendations to customers, including specific store information.
The trouble for email hosting users, though, is that inboxes can get fairly cluttered with emails from retailers looking to drive sales more effectively. It may seem silly, but email hosting clutter is a very common affliction. In fact, The New Yorker's Siliva Killingsworth recently decided to get her inbox down to zero in what she's calling the "Zero Dark Inbox" initiative. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Wire investigated its own staff's email habits to come up with nine categories of email hosting users, ranging from "Email Nihilist," the type who disposes of useless emails as they come, to "The Email Chaos Lover," who keeps an inbox full of old unread messages.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein