email marketingToday’s marketers face a significant challenge: how to engage prospects, build relationships with customers and foster loyalty in such a noisy, multi-channel world. Have you been up at night wondering which marketing tool offers you the best ROI?

Well, here’s the good news. We actually know what that tool is—and it’s not some hot, new social platform, courtesy of Silicon Valley’s latest technology. Actually, it’s one of the most established modern marketing tools of all: email.

According to a recent report, email continues to lead in terms of conversion rates and popularity among marketing organizations. 41% planned to integrate email into at least two channels in 2014. 22% planned for at least three. 11% were going for one or four channels. And 6% planned for five or more. Only 9% didn’t plan to integrate email at all—a missed opportunity, to be sure.

Are you getting the most out of your cross-channel email efforts?

Here are a few tips to keep you on track:

Build connection through consistency. Every communication with your potential and current customers is an opportunity to build your brand through consistent, compelling messaging. You need to establish who/what you are… and why anyone should care! Your messages will do more and go further if every channel—from web to mobile to in-store, and anywhere else you’ve got something to say—is singing the same tune. A truly integrated email approach demands messaging that stays on brand and on task.

Make your value clear. It can be tempting to inundate your subscribers with a constant onslaught of messages, hoping to stay on their radar and drive traffic in your direction. Unfortunately, though, your desire to connect isn’t quite enough reason to get in touch; you have to focus on providing your subscribers with real value. Otherwise, you’re just adding to the noise in their inbox. What constitutes a valuable email to your subscribers?

  • A welcome message, with information about how to complete the opt-in process and set email preferences
  • A message offering discounts and deals
  • An invitation to set up profile, and receive more targeted content
  • A message providing targeted content, sales and offers
  • An invitation to your loyalty or points program
  • A reminder to complete a transaction in process

It comes down to a paraphrase of Kennedy’s familiar quote: “Ask not what your subscribers can do for you, but what you can do for your subscribers.”

Stay on the right track. The more data you can gather about your customers and their behavior, the better value you’ll be able to offer them through targeted messages . . . and the more agile you’ll be in keeping them coming back for more. Email offers you the ability to track everything from when your customers open your emails, to the screen they use to view them, to the links they click on, to the actions they take once they arrive somewhere, how often they return to view what you’ve sent them, etc. And that data isn’t just prescriptive for your email campaigns; it can inform the rest of your marketing efforts, too.

Get them while they’re on the go. Considering that half of unique email opens today happen on a mobile device, creating a positive mobile email experience is key. No matter what screen your subscriber views your message on, they should be able to see the words and images you want them to see, just as you want them to see them. If you’re not using responsive design to make your emails mobile-friendly, your messages might not make it to your heaviest mobile users.

Every so often, someone pops up to assert that “email marketing is dead.” But the reality is that it’s alive and well, and an incredibly powerful tool for engagement, relationship-building, driving sales and fostering loyalty.