Rich media, social media, and native advertising may be making the headlines these days, but let's face it: The latest shiny objects do not work for everyone. You know what does work for everyone? Email marketing.

It may not be new, shiny, or sexy, but nothing delivers results like email, particularly for nurturing new leads.

Rich media is full of flash and fanfare; social media is used as a broadcast medium; and users recognize native advertising as advertising, even if it's better than banner ads and spam. Email marketing, though 20 years old, continues to evolve and mature to deliver effective marketing messages to retain and acquire customers, increase brand awareness, make transactions, and generate leads.

In the age of big data, email is even more important and more effective than it's ever been. Email enables the delivery of highly relevant content to customers who have opted in to receive these messages. Email focuses on the customer; thus, it enables your company to communicate directly and with substance to a qualified, segmented audience.

The backbone of effective email marketing is intent data, the information the user provides while searching, shopping, and buying online. By gathering and harnessing intent data, email becomes an even more successful tool for nurturing leads.

Here are a few tips to make email marketing work even better for your business.

1. Personalize every email with data and offers

There is nothing more annoying than receiving a "personal" message sent to "undisclosed recipients" or containing a canned, broad message. If you are a B2B marketer, you're working with sophisticated professionals who know the CAN-SPAM law and will unsubscribe from your communications. B2C marketing is also increasingly sophisticated, and users will also drop you if you try to dupe them.


  • Include the recipient's name.
  • Mention product or service of interest and topics related to that product or service.
  • Use attention-getting headlines that provide branding or offerings and content. Keep it brief; most mobile phones cut off at 35 characters.
  • Practice good list hygiene. Pay attention to unsubscribed and bounced users. Minimize spam complaints with authentication and personalization.
  • Don't mislead. Be up front, realistic, and practical. Use the information you know to convert the reader rather than bombarding with generic, frenetic noise.

2. Maintain momentum; reach out quickly and regularly

Email marketing is an effective lead generation tool because it provides information, retains contact and relevancy, and offers the opportunity to convert on the customer's schedule. This is permission marketing, which means the prospect has chosen to receive your missives. Don't abuse the relationship!

  • Respond to initial lead capture with a friendly introduction of your company and services.
  • Follow up with friendly, personal, and relevant notes. Remind your audience of your capabilities and benefits in a conversational, not confrontational way.
  • Make the most of your online presence by connecting users to your website, social media, search and organic presence, and partners with frequent, interactive ways to engage your brand.
  • Use best-practices in the design and content of your message to minimize filtering and increase engagement.
  • Establish trust and value before the customer is ready to buy.

Offering engaging, informative news and interaction enables you to stay relevant and top of mind, and fill the marketing funnel with a perpetual stream of leads. Doing so will create well-informed leads who are ready for the next steps on the path to conversion.

3. Give them a reason to respond

Always include a call to action in the top fold of the email! And use the data you have to keep it relevant to your customers' needs. Email lets you convert leads by giving them a place to sign up, ask for more information, download a white paper... and, most important, stay in contact.

Be generous. Offer a coupon, a webinar, whitepaper, or access to your thought leadership content. Sophisticated users know they can find a lot of things free; let them know you are a leader providing strong products in a competitive landscape. Comps will not hurt your business; they will engage users and establish you as the top provider.

Be creative, and test responses to headlines and offers.

Engage readers and they'll interact with your brand and products. You will have established trust and knowledge with them, so when they are ready to convert you will have shortened their buying cycle.

4. Intent data distinguishes you from the crowd

Intent data allows you to rise above the email noise because it actually connects your message with what information users are providing. Intent data works across search, display, social media, email, and transactional platforms to identify behavioral patterns, enabling you to deliver the right message to the right audience, thus increasing leads and conversions.

Intent data has evolved from the former email practice of making inferences based on user-provided information, which are only as reliable as the data provided, to incorporate real-time, focused information about what users are searching for, where they are searching from (e.g., mobile users), and how they are responding.

Test how specific calls to action are followed, then use cookies associated with your website to see what content is clicked through to. That new activity is additional intent data to continually feed into your email marketing efforts as new fuel. You can use that data to further target and determine your audience to deliver even more relevant content.

* * *

As long as it is used wisely, segmented properly, and delivered in an engaging way, email will continue to thrive, reaching customers where and when they are receptive to your message.

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Email Still Really, Really Matters, Especially If You Apply These Four Tips

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image of Vin Turk

Vin Turk is a co-founder and the COO of Madison Logic, an account-based marketing solutions company.

LinkedIn: Vin Turk