Most people would agree that the Internet exists to facilitate communication and the sharing of information – but how that process is managed is another debate entirely. Businesses rely on digital marketing channels to reach their audience and now, more than ever, they are being restricted by gatekeepers that insist they have the consumer’s best interest at heart.
While net neutrality is threatened in the US and digital giants Google and Facebook are under investigation in Australia, email is one of the last remaining digital marketing channels that allows a direct relationship between a business and their customer. It’s through email that businesses can minimise their dependency on third parties and make sure they have the most control over how their content is consumed.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States voted to repeal the Open Internet Order of 2015. The vote means the FCC will hand over its authority to regulate Internet service providers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an attempt to dismantle net neutrality. In the lead up to the vote, FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, announced the change would help consumers and promote competition, but the consumers and businesses that are supposedly benefiting from such a vote disagree.
Meanwhile in Australia, the Federal Government has instructed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to launch an inquiry into digital giants Google, Facebook and Twitter to investigate the conduct of these platforms in dealing with content publishers and advertisers. Chairman Rod Sims explained that from now until mid-2019, the ACCC will look into how advances in technology impacts competition in the digital and media landscape and “how much of that is due to market power or misleading conduct issues.”
In terms of net neutrality, Australia does not currently have any measures in place to regulate how Internet service providers operate. Tim Singleton-Norton, a supporter of net neutrality and chairman of Digital Rights Watch, has expressed concern that some operators are already looking into ways to change processes in Australia. However, the ACCC warned operators months ago that it would investigate any issues with service to consumers, particularly in relation to service and speed.
It’s an interesting time for marketers and small businesses who aim to build meaningful relationships with customers. While the biggest social platforms in digital marketing are charging more for less visibility, there’s a lot of businesses revisiting their email marketing strategies and finding there’s more opportunities than ever before.
“28% more emails were sent in 2016 than the year before.” optinmonster
There are plenty of stats to show email marketing is here to stay. It’s a powerful tool for any type of business and our clients send millions of emails a month with an average open rate of 33% across all industries.
Recently at our Email Marketing Summit Australia event, keynote Dan Oshinsky from The New Yorker declared email marketing the biggest opportunity in digital today and that while “content is king, distribution is queen – and she wears the pants.”
As far as distribution goes, social media is a popular channel for content marketers – but we are limited in what we’re able to do with it. Why rely on gatekeepers to share our content when we can connect with our audience in a direct and personal way through email?
“Email sends will grow by 4.4% each year over the next 4 years.” Radicati
As marketing experts shared their experiences of the state of email marketing this year at EMSA, a common theme emerged. Dan Oshinsky from The New Yorker sees email marketing in a similar way to the news anchors of the 1950s, connecting with families in their homes. Adrian Westwood from Wotif sees results in using dynamic content specific to the recipient. Camille Socquet-Clerc from Michael Hill shared the importance of supporting the customer journey and building relationships. Everyone agreed that personalisation is a requirement for email marketers today.
While dynamic content is available to marketers in channels such as display advertising, paid search and social media, email marketing is comparatively cheaper and gives marketers more control and visibility into their campaigns. This is particularly attractive to small businesses that have limited resources but still want to get the most out of their marketing.
For example, any small business can easily set up an account with an email provider such as Vision6. From there, it’s easy to import contacts, create subscription forms, design email templates and run email and SMS campaigns. We’ve seen that metrics improve dramatically when emails are timed with key points along the customer journey and, particularly for online retailers, when abandoned cart automation series are used.
For tips on how to maximise your email marketing campaigns, I recommend reading this blog by Damien Torti, particularly around email personalisation and automation.
As social media platforms and Internet providers gain more control, email remains of the last channels in which businesses can share their content and develop a one-on-one relationship directly with their customers.
What are your thoughts on the impact gatekeepers may have on content marketing in 2018 and beyond? Share your comments or thoughts below to get the discussion going.