In 2017, you may need to reconsider your marketing approach if you want to continue effectively driving conversions.

Why? Because organic social media reach is at an all-time low–and ad blocking is on the rise.

Research proves it: MarketingLand reported that Facebook’s organic reach is down 52% for publishers’ pages in 2016, and data from eMarketer shows that within the US, ad blocking is expected to jump by as much as 24% in 2017.

eMarketer Ad Blocking Users

So what’s a marketer to do?

Many are turning to email marketing to find new ways to engage their audiences in this space.

Dealing with changes to social reach and ad blocking

First things first: Let’s take a deeper dive into how the reach of advertising is changing due to algorithm tweaks and ad blocker penetration.

On platforms like Facebook that have historically been extremely successful tools for directing website traffic, changes in the back-end algorithm have resulted in major negative impacts to organic reach.

In one instance, data from SocialFlow showed that the organic reach of stories from media companies has dropped by as much as 42%. In another, The New York Times reported that many news publishing sites like Mashable are being forced to find new ways to earn ad revenue and direct traffic to their websites, as organic reach from social platforms like Facebook begins to falter.

And as for ad blocking, this trend isn’t limited to desktop use. Research from PageFair shows that at least 309 million people (that’s 16% of the world’s 1.9 billion smartphone users) are blocking ads on mobile.

This presents marketers with some serious challenges for the year ahead, such as:

  • Dedicating a significant budget for social media advertising if they want to continue to reach audiences on these platforms
  • Facing an increasingly competitive advertising environment on social media channels
  • Discovering new ways to get messages in front of audiences other than traditional PPC efforts, as these are impacted by the use of ad blockers

As a result of these challenges, some marketers are further leveraging their email lists–and they’re discovering new ways to supplement engagement and conversions through this channel.

Advertising in email

While the reach of social media continues on a downward trajectory and ad blocking makes it harder than ever for messages to reach your target audience, one-way email marketing is helping marketers expand their reach is via integrated ad campaigns.

How are they doing it? With the help of integrations like LiveIntent that work to help drive purchases via real-time, targeted ads that leverage unique customer data.

Using a tool like LiveIntent, marketers can:

  • Monetize unsold inventory
  • Manage directly sold advertising campaigns
  • Educate subscribers
  • Promote products

Thanks to this integration, marketers can incorporate ads directly in email campaigns in a way that looks and feels natural, as they seamlessly flow together with the body of the email.

Rolling Stone Australia has already put this tactic to work. By adding relevant ads in the body of their email campaigns that complement the content, they reap twofold benefits: Subscribers get information on new tracks, albums, and tours, and the publication extends the reach of their advertising campaigns.

Rachel Zoe’s ZoeBeautiful beauty-themed email newsletter also incorporates banner ads–which allows the brand to monetize this channel. By syncing their email efforts with retargeted ads, they give advertisers the opportunity to connect with an engaged audience right within the inbox.

Boosting relevance with detailed segments

Aside from integrating ads, other brands are finding ways to boost engagement and conversions with email via detailed segments based on subscriber interest, purchase habits, and more.

With these highly relevant messages and specific lists, publishers, media companies, and brands are able to connect with different audiences on more personalized topics, which can boost open rates and drive click-throughs in comparison to roundup-style newsletters that cover many different topics.

For example, The New York Times has over 30 different email newsletters with around a 70% open rate, and is creating brand new newsletters dedicated to unique audiences like ‘college students’ and ‘runners’.

Other media outlets are experimenting with format and writing styles, such as Vox’s Sentences, which curates the news in short-form. And journalists are hopping on board with email, too. We see this in examples like Leah Finnegan’s Leah Letter or Dave Pell’s NextDraft, which give these writers a direct channel to in which they can speak to their readers.

Rather than hoping that these audiences notice updates published in a continually moving feed on social media platforms, email and detailed segments are helping publishers get the most relevant messages to the right people.

Why email marketing?

Maybe at this point, you’re thinking: “Okay, I understand the how–but why email marketing? Why not some other platform or medium?”

Let’s explore a few of the reasons email marketing makes sense for integrating advertising campaigns.

1. Relevancy

For one thing, email is a place in which ads can be more effective simply because they have greater relevance and context for the reader. When paired with interesting, dynamic content that’s personalized based on subscriber data, the ad campaign immediately becomes more engaging for the reader. Rather than seeing your ad displayed amongst random search results, email provides an environment in which the ad can be more relevant and engaging.

2. ROI

Email marketing is a proven driver of ROI for companies in many different industries. Because of this, pairing email content with ads just makes sense. The statistics on the ROI of email marketing paint a clear picture of the medium’s effectiveness:

  • In 2016, email marketing produced an average ROI of $44 for every $1 spent – Campaign Monitor
  • The average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media – McKinsey
  • 77% of ROI comes from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns – DMA

3. Less fatigue

The other facet to consider with advertising in email is that it’s different from web advertising–and customers don’t get the same message fatigue that they get from overexposure to the same content on other platforms. Because email personalization uses subscriber data rather than device-based data, it can include greater personalization based instead upon individual subscriber data from a CRM (whereas PPC efforts traditionally work based on device-based information.)

Wrap up

Where other channels don’t deliver the high-performing results you expect, now is the time to consider tying in email marketing to combat obstacles to advertising success.

Yes, the decline in organic social media reach and ad blocking do make advertising more challenging, but the good news is that this is one more way email marketing can play a larger role in your marketing strategy. By incorporating relevant ads into your email marketing, you create an added revenue stream and another conversion touchpoint for customers and subscribers alike.

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