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Webinar recap - Email marketing vs. digital marketing

August 13, 2020

The year is 2020 and the battle between digital marketing and email marketing wages on!

Where do your allegiances lie?

In the blue corner - digital marketing, with its precision, versatility and a previously unimagined scope for customisation. In the red corner - email marketing, with its rigid platform for optimisation and a capacity to provide great value.

An unstoppable force meets an immovable object!

Just as the battle approached a stalemate, three heroes emerged from the fog, destined to settle the debate once and for all.

  • James Sutton, Campaign Executive at Cognism, our moderator and host.

To hear what happened next, scroll down! 👇

Key takeaways

1 - Lead generation

When it comes to B2B lead generation, Alice believes digital marketing is superior.

We didn’t consider email marketing at Cognism until about 6 months into my tenure and we had already built a predictable growth marketing engine. We’d already achieved great results. From my perspective, I didn’t think email first, I thought paid first. My reasons for this were:

  1. Predictability - this is especially important when you are starting out.
  2. Accessibility - email marketing often relies on the quality of your data, for many companies which are starting out, this can be unrealistic.
  3. Precision - if a younger company has fewer resources, they need to be pinpoint with their targeting. This is possible through digital channels.

While Frank agreed that digital channels are more effective for finding new leads, he does not believe they’re more predictable.

I personally have found up and down predictability with digital marketing. At times it can be awfully crowded. People often write off email marketing, but these people will be failing to re-engage with their contacts, and missing out on opportunities as a result.

Alice agrees that the digital marketing space can be crowded, but contests that once you find the right spot, you will reap the rewards. Testing and optimisation are the pillars of a data driven marketing plan!

We used a hypothesis testing method, testing various channels, messaging and CTAs. Eventually, we refined our content and started making better decisions. We found at the time that LinkedIn gave us the best results.

Now, we are testing channels again and we are finding success on Facebook. When we discover new and interesting avenues we are always willing to adjust our budgets and optimise our process.


2 - Top of the funnel

At the top of the funnel, making a good first impression is paramount. As an email marketer, Frank knows the importance of the first impression and has some tips for getting it right.

Email is always a great way to kick off your engagement with a prospect. With email, you’ve got a 1 on 1 chance to make a good impression. It’s got to count!

Nailing the first touch is all about testing and refining your messaging. Always understand what you want the recipient to do when they engage with your email, and don’t be afraid to get it wrong.

The trick is understanding where the recipient is in their buyer journey. If you can work this out, then you’ll have a better idea of the information they’re looking for.

Alice had an interesting rebuttal for Frank’s point.

Just to counter that, I think part of the reason I feel more aligned with digital is that I believe entering someone’s inbox uninvited already sets a bad first impression! If you connect with someone digitally first and offer them value, they’ll be expecting an email follow up.

Frank agreed that you have to be careful with your email marketing approach.

I agree that email can be intrusive. But if you put yourself in the customer’s shoes and take the right approach, you’re more likely to get off to a good start. Really think about what you’re saying before you hit send.


3 - Nurture interest

Nurture campaigns are a great way to warm up a cold lead, so when you do finally approach them, you will be a more familiar and valuable contact. Alice believes the best nurture campaigns are digital.

I always look for the quickest win. Done is better than perfect. With email, you’re often looking at 6 or 7 weeks until you can realise the revenue. For us, retargeting sits firmly in the digital space. Paid nurture campaigns offer a much quicker turnaround.

I will admit, email can also play an important role. We are currently trying to make more use of our current data through email campaigns, but if I was limited by capacity and resource, I’d choose paid.

For Frank, the value of email nurture campaigns is in the potential for 2-way information sharing.

At the moment we are trying to give our prospects the possibility to choose their own destiny. The first thing we do is thank the prospect for downloading our content or engaging with us in some way. Then, we offer them options for which content they’d like to see.

Letting them pick this early on gives you a better idea of their interests, and also allows them to see something they are more interested in.

The way Frank sees it, the email rekindle process might take longer, but there are additional benefits which are harder to come by through digital channels.

4 - Open rates

At this point in the webinar, James reminded the participants of their comments about the danger of sending ‘intrusive’ emails. James asked Frank how he achieves a high open rate whilst avoiding intrusive messaging. Over to you, Frank.

Just over 300 billion emails are competing for attention throughout the world each day. There is no secret to increasing your open rate, but I do have some tips:

  1. Try to understand your audience and write with a tone that suits them.
  2. Understand what you want the recipient to do when they read your email.
  3. Don’t make your emails too long.
  4. Don’t mislead the recipient, if you promise something in your subject line, make sure you deliver.
  5. Don’t overdo email personalisation. You can only personalise based on data points you have, so by including more of them you run a higher risk of using outdated information.


5 - Email + digital

Perhaps the only way to settle this debate is with an olive branch. Perhaps the best results are achieved with a combination of email and digital. Alice agreed that there is a place for both methods in her marketing mix.

I’m happy to say I am a fan of email too, it’s fundamental if you want to have effective customer life-cycle management. Email should be present throughout the customer journey, from engaging with cold leads to customer retention. You get so much more from your database if you can incorporate email into your marketing mix.

Listen to the webinar

With that final skirmish, the war was ended, and peace was restored upon the marketing galaxy.

Many thanks to Alice de Courcy and Frank Brooks for sharing their insights with us, and providing an entertaining lesson on marketing channels.

If you enjoyed this, you can listen to the full webinar, which covers additional topics, including:

  • The best method for A/B testing.
  • How long to wait before messaging a prospect.
  • The role of the MDR in Cognism’s predictable SQO generation engine.
  • Plain text emails vs. creative marketing emails.
  • Creating a distinct email identity.
  • Retargeting and personalisation.
  • Alice and Frank’s favourite marketing software.

To listen to the full version, click the link below!

Listen to the full webinar

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