On May 1, 1978, a marketing manager named Gary Thuerk wrote an email to 400 ARPAnet users promoting Digital Equipment Corporation computers. Later billed “The Father of Spam,” Thuerk pioneered email marketing by sending the world’s first digital, commercial mass communication. (It was mass communication at the time; did you have an email address in 1978?)

Thuerk’s stunt reinforces that email marketing is just as effective as it is storied. That message resulted in $13 million in sales and on the eve of email marketing’s 40th birthday, marketers still consider it to be their most profitable digital channel.

Over time, technology has helped email evolve from a mass communication channel to one that delivers increasingly targeted and personalized messages. Ironically, the same technology leads to fewer human interactions. That human touch is often the missing piece that can take your email campaigns to the next level.

Content produced in association with Emma.

The traps of technology

The sheer volume of technology and data available gives today’s marketers the capability to communicate to consumers according to their own preferences. That includes emails that speak to them as individuals. According to Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from retailers that personalize their content.

Most email service providers (ESP) have some level of automation, empowering marketers to do their jobs better and faster. But that same volume of technology is often a double-edged sword, allowing them to deliver a better customer experience but making it easy to “set it and forget it.”

That mentality is dangerous, given what a lucrative marketing channel email has proven to be. Email Marketing Gold found that every dollar invested in email marketing can have an ROI of up to $40. With such a strong ROI, even a small boost in sales can (Read more...) to complacency. Many marketers coast and fail to realize how much more they could be making from their email campaigns.

As Good Service Is Good Business author Catherine DeVyre’s famous quote says, “The seven most expensive words in business: We have always done it that way.”

Adding the human touch to emails

Email automation has countless benefits, delivering one-to-one communications faster and cheaper. Personalized subject lines boost open rates by 50%, but that’s just skimming the surface.

Going above and beyond with personalization, Spotify emails users information about upcoming concerts based on their listening history. Warby Parker also re-engages customers by reminding them about their prescriptions’ pending expiration dates.

Automation still requires a human to set the campaigns in motion and put the time and resources into finding the right platform. To make the most of that platform requires deep knowledge of its capabilities. If you aren’t fully aware of them, you can’t possibly put them into practice.

An ESP with professional services and support can help take you there, adding a human touch to the process of optimizing your email marketing for your customers. Platforms that are heavily automated and lacking in customer service make it difficult for marketers to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Rather than just hand you the keys, the right vendor can help you with the design and execution aspects of your email marketing strategy, which ultimately helps you unlock email’s full potential and deliver the best possible customer experience.

In summary

The fact that email isn’t a shiny new object makes it that much more of a key part of your marketing strategy. According to Statista, 269 billion emails are sent and received each day, a number they project will increase by 19% over the next three years.

But while email is undeniably important, today’s technology makes it easier than ever for marketers to send the same tired messages. The technology also empowers them to build relationships with consumers and craft the personalized messages they want to receive.

To tap into that potential requires a human element in your campaigns, which often comes from using the right technology platform. By providing necessary (and accessible) guidance as needed, in addition to tools, a customer-centric vendor can help you deliver better results—maybe even $13 million worth like that first marketing email back in 1978.

To learn more, check out Emma’s “Why email holds the key to lasting customer relationships” report.

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