In the marketing world, there has been a lot of talk in the past few years about new channels, specifically social media and search marketing. And with good reason. These are exciting inbound marketing channels that are a boon to lead generation, client acquisition and client retention. I’ve personally seen tremendous return on these channels for my clients and it’s likely that very few marketing plans are complete without competent strategy & implementation in social and search.

But recently, marketers and business leaders seem surprised that email marketing (still) tends to trump these mediums in many industries, when it comes to ROI & lead generation.

(Politics aside, obviously) But if you need proof that email is still alive and kicking, just look at the Obama campaign’s stunning fundraising success using email. This Bloomberg Businessweek article details the extremely analytical testing process that Obama’s email team used to determine which subject lines, content, calls to action, and email formatting would bring them the highest return in donation dollars. The results: “Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails.”

What does Obama’s success mean about the state of email marketing?

“Most people have a nearly limitless capacity for e-mail and won’t unsubscribe no matter how many they’re sent. ‘At the end [of the campaign], we had 18 or 20 writers going at this stuff for as many hours a day as they could stay awake,’ says [Obama campaign email director] Fallsgraff. ‘The data didn’t show any negative consequences to sending more.’”

A recent B2B Marketing Magazine study found that 42% of marketers name email as their one of their most effective channels for lead generation. And, the Direct Marketing Association reports that email has a higher ROI than any other marketing method, at an average of $39.40 in revenue for every marketing dollar spent.

But a sound email marketing strategy doesn’t happen over night & it requires more time to implement effectively than most other marketing channels. It requires:

  • A sound list of attentive prospects, clients & customers procured through organic means. (Anyone who has tried leasing email lists will tell you that.)
  • Equal parts diligence & restraint in nurturing your list.
  • A proficient messaging, promotional & editorial strategy.
  • Clarity on the action you want your recipient to take.
  • QA to ensure your emails are being received, read & are in accordance with all of the email regulations in place.
  • Testing, testing, testing. Clients & marketers alike will often be surprised with the type of messaging that resonates with its recipients.

To make sure that you’re optimizing your email marketing, first focus on building a great list of customers and prospects who have expressed interest in hearing more from your business. Anyone can like or follow you on social media, but if a contact gives you the express permission to be in their inbox, you should consider it a privilege and an opportunity.