Email, search remain key for brands

24 January 2013

NEW YORK: Companies like Kellogg, Whirlpool and Nissan are still emphasising areas such as email and search marketing, which retain a key role despite the rise of social media and similar tools.

While recognising the value of more fashionable channels, Bob Arnold, associate director of global digital strategy at Kellogg, the food group, argued email must not be dismissed lightly.

"Email has long been shunned as a 'has been', often taking the back seat to newer, sexier tactics like social media," he told DigiDay.

"From a pure cost-effectiveness standpoint, it's hard to beat email. It's relatively cheap, consumers opt-in, so they are very receptive to the marketing message, and it's fairly easy to measure success."

For Wayfair, an online furniture and homewares retailer, email is one of the "most effective channels" to boost brand identity and sales, Michael Beaulieu, the firm's group manager, digital media, stated.

"Customers who sign up to an email list are specifically granting you permission to communicate with them," he said. "Earning the right to stay in their inboxes requires delivering consistent value, both in the content and offers delivered."

Brian Maynard, director of marketing for Whirlpool's Jenn-Air appliances range, concurred that chasing the next "shiny penny" on digital should not come at the expense of search.

"Search engine marketing is now taken for granted but it is an important tactic as it is specifically targeted at people who have taken the time to search on a specific topic, and presumably they are a shorter distance to the register than many," he said.

Erich Marx, director of interactive and social media marketing at Nissan, the carmaker, added that search strategies, while comparatively mature, could be further improved.

"Optimising one's website for organic search activity. It's not that it's ignored, but it's not fully understood by many webmasters as to how to optimise," he said.

Applying traditional marketing values to rapidly evolving spheres such as social media is also vital for Linda Boff, executive director of global digital marketing at General Electric, the conglomerate.

"The most underrated tactic is that brands need to behave, sound and act like human beings on social media. Figure out what's most relevant and essential about your brand, and then relentlessly express it in a tone that is natural and consistent," she said.

Data sourced from DigiDay; additional content by Warc staff