Of all the weapons marketers have to generate sales, email is still king, according to Chief Marketer, which provides insight for marketing executives.
In a survey conducted last summer of mostly business-to-business marketers, email emerged as the top source of leads and the top producer of leads that generate the highest returns on investment.
Meanwhile, live events ranked second in both categories; content marketing ranked third among lead sources, and fourth in ROI, behind search engine optimization. Chief Marketer found.
If, as a solution provider, you're a small business, email marketing can open more doors and drive a higher ROI, according to Emily Shankle, marketing manager at Lead Sparrow, an email marketing platform.
"Email marketing is fit as a fiddle, and it is seemingly the most profitable method for marketing," Shankle wrote in a recent blog post at Medium.com.
But is it a panacea for lead generation?
It depends on when your email is being read, according to Brian Hanify, vice president of sales and marketing at Akuity Technologies, a managed services provider in Auburn, Mass.
"I subscribe to the theory that our business has a lot to do with timing," Hanify told ITBestOfBreed. "It's impossible to be in front of everyone all the time, so we use email as a tool to keep our name and brand in front of as many prospects as possible.
"Prospects have to be in a time of need or a time of change in order to even listen to us."
Akuity sends a monthly email newsletter that's meant to be "educational," Hanify says. The company also sends email alerts when there's a significant event – such as a virus – that can benefit a large audience.
The challenge "is that there is a diminishing rate of return on email" after your first email as fewer recipients open them, he said. "As technology gets better, people can avoid that kind of noise."
Indeed, businesses are cautious about email frequency, the Chief Marketer survey found. More than half of respondents were cautious about flooding the inbox, contacting prospects by email only either monthly (26 percent), two to three times a month (25 percent), or less than monthly (11 percent), the survey found. Sixteen percent reach out weekly, 13 percent two to three times a week, and only 5 percent are emailing daily. The remainder said less than annually or never. Just over half said email had improved as a nurturing tool in the last year.
For Akuity, email is a help, Hanify said. "For us, it's a tool to fertilize the marketplace."
Looking for tips on email marketing? Here are a few links to recent articles and blog posts.
Kat Boogarrd spells out three elements that can boost your response rate when you're wrapping your emails.
Email marketing is apparently as much science as it is art. Top technique? Keep mobile users in mind.
How are marketers embedding video in email? Read this chart from Kim Greenop-Gadsby.
From building relationships to tempering expectations, here are four tips for marketers at small companies.