This article was originally published on reverb, Drake Cooper’s reflections on advertising, creativity, and trends. Read more.

For Attracting Customers, It’s Email Over Social

Email_image_illustrationWithin seven years customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships with companies without ever talking to a human.

When Gartner released that prediction earlier this year many gravitated toward social as the winner in such an age. But there’s a growing amount of evidence that points to email and search as the most effective mediums when it comes to growing sales. While not as sexy as social they are leading in two key metrics: customer acquisition and traffic.

Consider customer acquisition.

A recent report from Custora analyzed data from 72 million customers who shopped on 86 different retailer sites. Over five years they examined customer growth by channel:

(click to enlarge)

Email_CustomerAcquisitionbyChannel

What stands out is not only the dominance of email and search but the rise of email within the last two years.

“Email is all about segmentation and personalized messaging. We need to continue to focus on delivering relevant messaging that is appropriate to the individual person, their behavior and time. Matching the email to the context and stage of that customer in their buying process is crucial. It really is all about the right content to the right customer at the right time.”

When Blair Lyon (VP of Marketing at Monetate) said that his company had just completed a different ecommerce report of 500 million shopping experiences that showed email was also the biggest driver of sales conversions over both search and social.

conversion-rate-by-source-monetate

Effective email marketing is about understanding the customer. So it’s up to organizations to get deep insights into what people want. It’s as easy and as difficult as that.

But that’s not much help from a blog post, especially after reading this far. So, tactically, here are a few things that may help.

What’s the best day of the week to send an email? Debatable. But here’s evidence that people respond to more marketing emails on Saturdays and Sundays.

What’s the best time to send an email? Again, debatable. But here’s evidence that puts response rates highest at night and early in the morning.

What’s the most effective subject line? Subject lines that contain “video,” “review,” “deals,” and “limited” perform well while superlatives (e.g. “exclusive,” “fantastic,” “great,” “latest”) and words like “cheap,” “free,” and “save” perform poorly. A helpful list, broken down by B2B vs. B2C, can be found here.

But despite email’s acquisition and conversion ability, it doesn’t come close to search marketing for driving traffic, which typically accounts for roughly 31 percent of website traffic.