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Is the UK failing to capitalise on email?

January 9, 2008

Here at Extravision we like to keep abreast of all the latest trends in email marketing and we regularly survey business leaders about their use of and attitude to, email marketing and e-mail Relationship Management. According to the responses we received from a recent survey, it seems that although the vast majority of UK companies now use email on a daily basis, many are failing to capitalise on the power of email when it comes to marketing.

In this article we examine some of the reasons why email marketing is so under-used in the UK and the impact this may be having on UK businesses ability to compete in a global market place. 

According to a recent survey conducted by the research team at Extravision, although most businesses hold huge amounts of information about their customers and prospects, only 27% of marketers are actively collecting email addresses. This is in sharp contrast to companies in the States, more of whom now use email marketing than direct mail, according to a recent report by Gartner. They have realised that email is more cost efficient and effective than traditional methods of marketing, and are adjusting the balance of their sales and marketing strategies as a result. 

Those UK companies that do not collect email addresses could be missing out on the opportunity to build better relationships more easily and to improve responses to marketing campaigns. The Internet, and in particular email, is the perfect medium for developing powerful one to one marketing relationships and email offers a number of benefits over traditional methods of marketing:

  • Email generates an action quickly and easily, at the click of a mouse!
  • Tracking is easy, taking the guess work out of measuring the effectiveness of a campaign (no more need for focus groups)
  • Campaigns can be planned and executed quickly, allowing companies to run more reactive marketing campaigns
  • The response rates are amazing, 20 percent compared to an average of 1 percent for direct marketing

If in the UK we have been slow to catch onto the power of email marketing, you can be sure that our overseas competitors haven’t. In an increasingly global marketplace it is essential that UK companies are able to compete on a worldwide basis. These days this is true for most types of businesses and with increasing integration with the European Union this is a trend that looks set to escalate rather than diminish over the coming years. 

So why are we so behind when it comes to adopting email marketing techniques? 

Perhaps one reason is that only one in ten have assigned responsibility at senior level for overseeing Internet marketing strategies according our survey. As a result few companies have developed a fully integrated approach that encompasses email marketing. Board level intervention is urgently required if UK companies are to capitalise on the opportunities the Internet can create, according to Extravision Sales Director, Alastair Campbell.

Our interviews with marketers demonstrated that there is a real lack of understanding about email marketing, which means few companies have implemented strategies and process for email management. The vast majority of Company Directors who took part in the survey seemed happy to leave decisions about Internet strategies to IT and/or Marketing managers even though they agreed that this sometimes caused confusion. Others said that they did not feel they had the necessary level of understanding about the Internet at senior level to make it an issue. This level of ignorance about the Internet and e-business strategies is a worrying sign for UK business. 

Those companies that fail to treat the Internet as a fundamental, long term, strategic business driver do so at their peril. Failure to commit senior level resources to ensuring that an Internet strategy is implemented on a company-wide scale means that companies are missing out on the opportunity to engage customers and prospects in a one to one dialogue and could lose competitive advantage as a result.
If we are not to lose out to overseas competitors the adoption of email management processes is vital, no matter how large or small a company.

Here’s our short guide to email management:

1. Define 

Decide what you want to achieve from an email strategy - greater brand identity, better customer service or increased sales for example. Plan a long term strategy around achieving these objectives. 

2. Put someone in charge of this process 

Responsibility for co-ordinating and delivering the strategy should be placed at Board level. 

3. Get help if needed 

If you do not have the expertise in-house to implement an email marketing plan at present then outsource part or all of the work to a third party provider, you can always take it back in house at a later stage. 

4. Measure performance 

Measure results on a regular basis against your objectives, you may need to tweak campaigns to achieve the best results. 

5. Make email part of your overall strategy 

Don’t just confine email to the board room. Everyone within your organisation can make a positive contribution; receptionists for example may be ideally placed to collect email addresses from customers to help build your list. 

If you would like more information please email us at [email protected] or call +44 (0)161 817 2929

Posted by Paul Latham
Topical email

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