Why Steven Gerrard is the Email Marketing of the Digital Marketing Landscape

Steven Gerrard, a former English professional footballer, is widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation. His consistent performance throughout his career led him to countless succcesses, However Gerrard was frequently overshadowed by more flashy teammates for a few reasons:

Style of Play: Gerrard’s style was more about effectiveness than flair. While he had moments of spectacular play, his game was largely built on solid, consistent performances rather than flashy tricks or highlight-reel moments.

Team Dynamics: Football is a team sport, and often players with a more attacking or flamboyant style tend to get more attention. Gerrard’s role, while crucial, was sometimes less glamorous compared to strikers or attacking midfielders.

Media Attention: The media often focuses on players with more outgoing personalities or those involved in more goal-scoring opportunities. As a result, players with a quieter demeanor or those playing in less forward positions might receive less attention.

However, his impact and achievements in football remain undeniable.

There are some striking (no pun intended) parallels with how email marketing is managed by many business owners.

The Cognitive Dissonance around Email Marketing

In today’s digital marketing landscape, there’s a curious contradiction: while businesses pour substantial funds into various high-cost channels, the humble email marketing – often requiring minimal investment – is regularly sidelined. This trend raises a critical question: are we mistakenly equating financial investment with value, thereby neglecting a proven, effective strategy?

The High Financial Investment Dilemma Many companies channel their marketing budgets into high-cost areas like social media, paid search, and influencer partnerships. This substantial financial commitment naturally directs their focus and expectations towards these platforms. The rationale is understandable: where money flows, attention goes. However, this approach can create a blind spot for lower-cost, high-return channels like email marketing.

According to research by Statista revenue from Email Marketing is growing rapidly worldwide:

Additionally, research by Litmus has shown that 87% of companies say that email marketing is critical to their business success.

Yet, how much of your Marketing team’s time goes into email marketing compared to other channels?

Email Marketing: The Underutilised Powerhouse Email marketing doesn’t demand the hefty investment that other channels do, which ironically leads to it being undervalued. The reality, however, is that email marketing often delivers a remarkable return on investment (ROI). Its capabilities for personalisation, direct reach, and measurable impact make it a uniquely effective tool for both customer acquisition and retention.

Addressing the Cognitive Dissonance The neglect of email marketing in favor of more expensive, and sometimes less effective, channels is a classic case of cognitive dissonance in business decision-making:

  1. Perceived Value vs. Actual Performance: There’s a tendency to associate higher costs with higher value. As a result, the relatively low cost of email marketing may erroneously signal lower value.
  2. Attention Allocation: Companies tend to focus more on channels where they’ve made significant financial investments, often disregarding the efficiency and effectiveness of less costly options.
  3. Expectation vs. Delivery: While businesses expect high returns from their significant investments in other channels, they often overlook the consistent and reliable results that a well-executed email campaign can deliver, even with minimal investment.

Making the Case for a Balanced Approach Given this scenario, a more balanced approach is essential. While it’s important to invest in diverse marketing channels, overlooking the power of email marketing is a missed opportunity. Here are compelling reasons to integrate it into your overall strategy:

  1. Cost-Effective Engagement: Email marketing offers a budget-friendly way to engage with both potential and existing customers.
  2. Trackable ROI: The success of email marketing campaigns is easily measurable, offering clear insights into engagement and conversion rates.
  3. Personalised Communication: Emails allow for a high degree of personalisation, which can lead to stronger customer relationships and loyalty.

What are successful companies doing differently with Email Marketing?

Personalisation using dynamic content is the top personalisation tactic used by email marketing teams. It’s also the best way to improve email performance. (Litmus, 2023).

We have also found this with our clients too – emails that are triggered by specific user behaviours and that are personalised well get the best results.

Generic catch all emails to the whole database often fail to get good results – unless they communicate a strong offer.

Successful email marketing also requires thought into each of the automation series that you run as well as their design, wording, level of personalisation and timing.

Then for more general emails the design, wording and level of personalisation is also key.

If you are struggling for ideas then try using ChatGPT to get a start and then build on and adapt whatever it gives you. Your prompt needs to be specific and detailed and ideally communicates your target customer persona / profile.

Integrated strategy across marketing channels

We mainly work with smaller businesses that are focused on growth. Of course they have to consider profitability and ensure that they are not losing money but given the choice of Growth vs Profitability in the next 12 months most companies we work with are in the “Growth” camp.

Now consider a few scenarios – set out below.

In the first scenario where you do not pay much attention to email marketing and just do the minimum you get still get a very good ROI but overal your revenue is restricted because of the ROI you are able to achieve from the more competitive channels.

In Scenario 2 where you invest a lot of time and effort into your email marketing with a detailed strategy for both automated sequences of emails and also regular standard emails you manage to double the revenue.

The beauty about this is that the increase in revenue from email improves your overall margin to such an extent that you can invest a lot more into the growth channels that are bringing in the new business. You are able to scale your business faster.

Never overlook email marketing because your existing customer base are the most likely to buy from you again – this is true across B2B and D2C.

In order to maximise your growth you need to make the most of this channel, otherwise your other opportunities will be restricted.

Without Gerrard would Beckham have been so successful when playing for England?

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