E-mail Stays Steady
As I talk with arts & non-profit managers, it's clear that the scope and depth of the current recession is beginning to be translated into real budget cuts and changes to staffing and strategy. Nearly every day, I'm reading about another organization that's cutting back its season in some way.
However, as I talk with my colleagues in the technology field, many of them are not feeling the pinch as much. Indeed, there's an article in The New York Times today that reports that as the economy got worse, Amazon.com did better. Consumers are now more invested in the online world than ever. eMarketer reported on an USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future study showing that in 2001, the average weekly time spent online for at home consumers was just 3.3 hours, and by 2007 it had jumped to over 15 hours per week.
I think that lifestyle change has become ingrained in everyday thinking, and managers are indeed shifting their strategies and cutting their budgets. But unlike the past, it's not simply an across-the-board cut. Now they are revising their tactics about how they are spending scarce marketing dollars.
Those who haven't done so already are taking a fresh and hard look at the ROI for their direct mail and print efforts. As a result, managers are getting more and more serious about online marketing. A small personal benchmark: I've gotten two calls this week asking me about e-marketing consulting, compared to zero calls for all of 2008.
What's also fascinates me is that e-mail always seems to be the poor step-child of e-marketing. It's been around a long time, it's been tainted by being called spam, and it's decidedly not new and sexy, like Twitter and Facebook are.
That said, consumers have basically "baked in" e-mail into their lives in a way that is remarkably consistent. This chart from the direct marketing firm Epsilon shows that overall open and click rates in the corporate community have not changed very much, despite the vast changes to the online medium.
As someone who has focused on the stability and effectiveness of e-mail as a bona-fide marketing tool for seven years, this data does a great job in demonstrating exactly why tough times require a solid, cost-effective marketing tool like e-mail.