Email Marketing: Vast opportunities make it a favourite with brands

29 Jun,2012

By Robin Thomas


Easily the most preferred medium for a brand or marketer to get close to his consumer, digital has never seen such a fervent chase being put up by its users. While it was mostly search and display advertisements that advertisers flocked to, much of digital advertising is still unexplored territory. The importance of engaging the youth through social media marketing has only just been realized, while video marketing and mobile advertising are also gaining traction among marketers.


According to a recent IAMAI-IMRB report on Digital Advertising (as on March 2012), the total advertising spends including classifieds was valued at Rs2,850 crore.  It is expected that by FY2013 the digital advertisement spends will be about Rs4,391 crore.


The March 2012 report on digital advertising points out that search advertising constitutes about 20 per cent of the total online advertising spend or about Rs570 crore.  The report also states that advertisements on social media, email and video over the Internet constitutes about 3 per cent (Rs94 crore), 5 per cent (Rs144 crore) and 2 per cent (Rs59 crore) respectively. What is noteworthy is that a major proportion, around 53 per cent, of the overall digital advertising spends come from classifieds listing (Rs1,496 crore).


With such infinite possibilities continuing to emerge on a frequent basis around the medium, one tool that has been a favourite with the marketers in the recent past is email advertising. With just a handful of players that operate in the realm of providing email services, it becomes all the more challenging for owners to come up ideas that catch the attention of the advertisers. The question is whether there is enough being done around the vertical or if companies are missing out on the edge that this medium can possibly offer.


The IAMAI – IMRB Digital Advertising report already states that email advertising is worth 5 per cent of the overall digital advertising spends. According to industry estimates, email advertising is expected to grow from the current Rs144 crore to Rs250 crore in the next year or two. The role or purpose of email marketing is said to be about delivering the message and inviting consumers into brand engagement. Further, with mobile internet being touted to take internet inIndiato new heights, email marketing is expected to also thrive in the long run.


Mr Prasanth Mohanachandran, Co founder, AgencyDigi stated: “email marketing is very relevant and important today, it is cost-effective and reaches to wide range of audience. While it is already witnessing growth, mobile will only further grow email marketing as nearly 27 per cent of mails received by consumers are on handheld devices. The challenge, however, is to find newer ways to reach out to the consumers’ inbox and not their spam. Segmentation in email marketing will also help brands reach their relevant consumers.”


Mr Gaurav Nabh, Business Head, Quasar was of the view that since email is the most used platform for internet users in India, it is absolutely important and critical for any brand as a medium for reaching out to its consumer. “It is a communication medium, much like print, radio or TV. What you do with this platform and how you are able to maximize its effectiveness depends on the idea and approach,” he said.


What is noteworthy about email marketing is that it acts as a reach building medium by allowing brands to segment the audience as per their demographics and profile, and thus directly targeting them. While email marketing may be a cost-effective medium enabling larger reach, the challenges that accompany it are also large. Most email advertisements tend to be unsolicited mails and thus enter the spam mail. Lack of creative email advertisements could be another challenge for this business and hence it must not only get more creative but, also innovative in terms of rich media and interactivity and so on.


“A lot has been done with email marketing as a platform – from embedding previews of videos to lead generation, polls and voting. The limitations of the platform are based on poor bandwidth and technology limitation of most email clients and platforms. email marketing has been most successful for finance and real estate sector – helping them in generating leads. email marketing is here to stay as it has a role and purpose and the fact that it is cost effective. Email marketing will over time be seen not as a reach builder, but that of targeted awareness, and a medium to initiate and enable dialogue rather than just spread the message,” affirmed Mr Nabh of Quasar.


Mr Saurav Patnaik, VP-Marketing, Kenscio Digital Marketing Pvt Ltd was of the view that email marketing or digital direct marketing does not lack innovation, but to a great extent, is lacking creativity. “The agency’s focus has been on producing beautiful communication, but not much attention has been given to this channel. The road ahead is bright for this channel of marketing. We are very positive about the future and India as a market is growing and more the penetration of the internet happens the bigger it will get in the next few years,” he said.


Mr Gupta of DGM India noted: “Spam is a big issue, due to which it faces similar issues as SMS marketing. Like SMS, email marketing is also being done by loads of small/unorganized players. Due to this the larger players with opted-in databases are not getting their due pricing and share. Because of its nature, email marketing is being predominantly used for activation/ response oriented campaigns rather than branding campaigns. It is, in fact, very cost effective for these objectives. Also it is very effective in lead generation campaigns for BFSI, travel packages, auto, online listing businesses etc. It also works very well for highly niche products.”


While industry players are of the opinion that email marketing is here to stay and will grow over the years there is a need to be innovative and creative in delivering the message to the audience. E-marketing must be used to send relevant information and brands must start a meaningful dialogue with their consumers through email marketing. In order to escape spam and reach their consumers directly, email marketing could be used as a perfect tool for permission marketing. As internet consumption through mobile or smart phones grow, and consumers are given unique experience on mobile, email marketing could possibly witness a whole new chapter in the way it gets consumed.


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