Email marketing is far from perfect. It often gets given short shrift when something new and shiny and… well… social comes along, and marketers struggle with volume all the time.

Around 205 billion emails get fired out to some 4.5 billion email accounts every single day, and the average business user will find 121 of these in their inbox every day.

But there’s no denying it works. Email is still one of the most effective channels we have, and in most cases it’s still more likely to convert than social or PPC. So how can we retain that value while avoiding overwhelming our lists? Luckily, there’s a #ClickZChat for that…

#ClickZChat is our weekly Twitter forum. We ask the @ClickZ and @SEWatch audiences three questions about a marketing or search topic.  Here’s what you had to say about Email Marketing Optimization.

Q1: is email still the most effective marketing channel? Why? Or why not?

‎@rajnijjer Kicked things off with a resounding ‘Yes’ vote, noting the extremely high average ROI from email campaigns:

Of course, not all campaigns are created equal. Several of our followers mentioned that email works best in very specific situations, where longer, more complex interactions are required:

And as Jason Stockwell pointed out, high ROI may be a result of more mature measurement models:

There’s also a certain weight of expectation with email. We might not be so quick to assume that a tweet would convert (at least in a financial sense), again showing the value of communications with more context:

Finally, there is also the matter of engagement.  As I mentioned earlier, we get a LOT of emails each day, but generally speaking we still ‘see’ a lot of them, even if we don’t go as far as opening. Email is a curated list of information which we have actively asked for in many cases:

But we can still make ourselves unwelcome by sending too many updates, or opting users into mail they have not requested:

Which brings us neatly on to our next question:

Q2: What are the pros and cons of email automation?

Kim Stiglitz is a content marketer for Campaign Monitor. She was quick to point out that in many cases, automated emails had some of the highest engagement rates:

This clearly brings up the issue of user need. In many cases these are expected emails, delivered to assist with an action that the user was already trying to complete:

However, it is still possible to damage your customer relationship at this point. Personalization was mentioned as a key factor by a number of people:

Automation provides us with a very powerful set of tools, but it does take real time and effort to deploy correctly:

This is a major concern, but as Dawn Anderson mentioned, are we being too hard on ourselves or expecting too much from the channel?

Six top tips for great email marketing

Finally, it wouldn’t be #ClickZChat without a top tips round-up.

Q3: What one thing should marketers do to improve the effectiveness of their email marketing campaigns?

1: manage your data carefully

2: Think beyond the technical. Content quality matters here too

3: Think about “what” you are sending, not just how/when it is deployed – is this useful for the person receiving it?

4: Don’t over-extend your welcome (and don’t spam people!)

5: Email requires a different kind of copywriting focus. Optimize for the format and channel

6: Test, test and test again!

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who took part in this week’s chat. Please let us know any other email tips and tricks that you have found successful in the comments, and be sure to join us on Twitter this Wednesday at noon EST (5pm UK) for another #ClickZChat.

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