I have a special Gmail folder to keep track of bad marketing pitches. My folder overflows with mediocre messages and irrelevant buzzword salad that miss the mark — they miss my mark, and they’re not getting any better.

These messages lose my attention because they are irrelevant and don’t anticipate my needs. They all think I’m one click away from being a marketing-qualified lead in their demand generation machine.

Want some of the greatest hits?

  • A lead qualification provider proffers: “Marketers are responsible for generating more leads for sales, but they're also on the hook for delivering more revenue.” Yep ... and?
  • “To unlock a world-class NPS score … there is a new set of core tenets that inform the new best practices required for mature NPS programs.” Oh really? Do tell .…
  • A personal appeal to my ego: “Could you be the next Rising Star, Innovator, Community Builder, Rabble-Rouser, or Leader in the social media world?” Yes! I've always wanted to be the next rabble-rouser.

Email Marketing: Abuse of an Effective Tool 

Despite some truly mockable content, email marketing is still an effective lead generation channel. It’s a cost-effective part of a marketing mix. It can be a relevant medium to reach an audience if you know which audience you’re trying to reach, and how. And yet, effective as it can be, it's often the most abused and misused channel.

Are we doing our best?

I say no.

Look around us. Check out the Martech 5000. We’ve entered a world where customers interact across many channels: web and email, but also mobile, social, TV, point-of-sale, out-of-home and other digital-enabled channels where digital is the connective glue to make experiences come alive. There are tools — thousands — to help with data, identity, delivery, analytics, optimization, targeting and customer journey orchestration, among many others.

However, web and email are still low-friction ways to connect with a large number of prospects. Even so, the idea of spray-and-pray email messages is so 1999, and yet it’s still the king in 2018. There’s something wrong with this.

Related Article: Spam, Data and Just Plain Bad Marketing

It’s Time to Reinvent Your Marketing ... or Become Irrelevant

The changing dynamics of digital marketing and customer engagement are about to force a shift in companies that still insist on doing it the old way.  Either they shift, or they will get left behind by customers who’ve had it up to here with the same, boring, non-essential email.

But here’s the secret: We have the data. We have the systems. We have the channels of engagement with more coming online every day. In effect, each of us has the solution to the dilemma of blasting the world with irrelevant emails. Think those Martech 5000 companies are collecting dust? No, they’re helping one company at a time rethink and reposition its marketing strength to capitalize on the 1:1 expectations for personalized customer experiences. They’re redefining marketing, providing tools and capabilities that help companies and brands go beyond the status quo, stand out, and make positive advances on their marketing goals.

Learning Opportunities

Call it what you like — the connected customer experience, the omnichannel marketing experience, the unified customer journey — everyone is talking about it as the way out of the marketing email morass — and it can be. Yet few companies have taken the time to build the strategies, plans and content to operationalize great ideas using technology.

Think about the possibilities:

  • Integrating and centralizing your martech systems. If you can do that, you can ensure customer data is accessible to every system within your arsenal, allowing you to deliver connected, cross-channel experiences that help you create new customer value and connections.
  • Unifying your customer data into centralized, rich customer profiles that provide actionable insight. It’s all about optimization — using data to make the experience better, more real, and more tangible to users/visitors.
  • Setting the foundation for omnichannel transformation. This will allow you to move the focus from email to multichannel marketing and into always-on, real-time marketing and customer experience optimization.

Finally, the best marketers, I’ve found, do their homework before they try to penetrate any organization. They read about your company, understand what you care about and then — this is key — reach out to the right person(s) with a very targeted message. Don’t spray — get surgical with your outreach.

Related Article: Does Marketing Really Need All the Shiny Bells and Whistles?

Don't Settle for the Status Quo

Ultimately, it’s not a tech problem. It’s a failure of ambition.

It’s status quo email marketing winning over connected experiences that react in real time to what a customer has done, who they are, and what they might find appealing at each step of their journey.

And if they think email marketing still works, no wonder they still do it.

But think outside the box. There’s a new vision for going beyond the email mess that currently dominates the marketing landscape. And if you look closely, you might find you already have the tools to achieve it.

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