Many businesses that have seen a decline in social media engagement over the last few years are now turning to a marketing method that predates LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: the email newsletter.
One business turning back the digital marketing clock is Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, which recently launched a monthly email newsletter called “Behind The Velvet Rope.” Marketing Manager Emily Gardner says “Behind The Velvet Rope” gives Kimpton Seafire an opportunity to introduce a new concept at the hotel to a captive audience.
“We know Cayman’s residents are looking for authentic experiences and we are using the newsletter to give them a first look at new events taking place at the hotel,” she said.
A decade ago, email marketing seemed destined for the marketers’ graveyard of outdated technology, akin to faxing your promotion to prospective customers. Facebook and Twitter were on the rise and spam email threatened to overwhelm inboxes around the world. Email marketing never truly died, as it remained one of the most effective methods for reaching your audience, but it lost its shine as everyone became enamoured with social media.
As social media companies went public, however, a transformation in their approach began to take place. Shareholders now demanded profit and growth and social media companies responded by tweaking their algorithms to show fewer and fewer organic social media posts, and instead insisted that companies boost or promote posts to reach their audience. For many businesses on Facebook, their organic post reach has fallen as low as the single digit percentages, making boosting posts nearly a requirement to reach a significant portion of their followers.
At the same time, spam filters got better as email providers moved to cloud-based services that could learn in real time threats that were circulating and respond quickly on a global scale to ensure only the right messages made it through.
“We’re right there with the rest of the industry,” says Anna Wootton, digital marketing and public relations manager for Dart Enterprises. “We noticed our social media engagement dropping off despite following best practices and continuing to grow our audience. As a result, we recently decided to revamp our newsletters to better meet the needs of our customers and connect with them directly.”
Wootton recently led an initiative at Dart to take a fresh look at how to authentically engage the different audiences that are reached by the company’s various newsletters. When Wootton looked closely at the digital marketing trends and what was driving them, it became clear that white noise has flooded social media and that email can cut through the noise to connect with customers.
“Social media remains an important set of channels for us to reach our audience, but email provides a more personal, one-to-one conversation, rather than the town-hall-speech feeling of Facebook or Twitter,” Wootton says.
The ubiquitous and decentralised nature of email also makes it appealing from a future-proofing point of view for marketers. Every time Facebook decides to make a tweak to its algorithm or Twitter changes how its feed works, marketers are forced to adjust, oftentimes having to completely rework strategies to compensate. Email, on the other hand, just works — as long as it comes from a reputable company that takes care to whitelist its servers and prevent sent messages from ending up in spam folders.
Email allows for an intimacy and authenticity that is not always possible on social media. As a medium, it can be long or short, interactive or static, a highlight reel or a standalone piece. It lives only in the inbox of those recipients, making it private, personal and exclusive.
Marketers are not advocating for the abandonment of social media and for most businesses, it remains an important set of channels in a toolkit to reach their customers. However, they are approaching social media more systematically now, rather than simply posting and expecting all followers to see and react to the message.
Gardner says Kimpton Seafire is using its email newsletter in conjunction with social media.
“We are using “Behind The Velvet Rope”on a monthly basis to introduce a new concept and then reinforcing it on our social channels where appropriate,” she says. “The hotel’s social channels have continued to grow, especially for our international visitors, but we found that the local community responded better to a more customised approach, and email fit that need nicely.”