EDMs – Dead or Alive?


Email direct marketing has always been a bit of an ugly duckling. It originated as the virtual equivalent of junk mail, choking up inboxes all around the world with ungainly, irrelevant material that would largely be overlooked by the consumer.

In the early noughties, legislation and technology caught up with the EDM phenomenon and clipped its wings by putting heavy restrictions on what could and could not be sent. By the late noughties EDM was on life support, with nearly 30% of commercial emails failing to reach the inbox and subscribers opting out in droves due to the overwhelming volume of irrelevant marketing material clogging up their inbox. Fast forward to 2015 and EDM is alive and well, universally recognized as one of the most effective tools in a marketer’s arsenal. EDM is responsible for nearly 7% of customer acquisitions, a number that puts the social media platforms to shame.

So how did EDM manage to claw its way back from the grave? In short, it got better at connecting with the consumer.

Lesson one: Make it personal

We live in the age of the individual, so it speaks to reason that people don’t want to be treated as another blip in a faceless consumer mass. In the modern age, people like to be recognized as discerning, autonomous, and unique, that’s why emailing general promotional material en masse became so ineffective. For modern EDM, segmentation is the answer to this quandary. By utilizing more sophisticated consumer data tracking, marketers are now able to tailor email content to individual preferences and tastes.

Lesson two: Make it relevant

Some EDM takes it right down to the personal level by responding directly to a customer’s activity on their site. Something like the ‘abandoned cart’ email, loyalty reward email, and the ‘thank you for shopping with us recently’ promotion are all excellent examples of companies following up on customer interest and activity. EDM is reviving and digitizing the kind of personalised customer service people like to claim died with the birth of the internet.

Lesson three: Make it catchy

In its younger days, EDM content was essentially lifted from its print mail predecessors and rife with trite marketing jargon that is slick in all the wrong ways. Modern EDM has broken away from this stale formulaic approach and developed its own style of sharp, snappy brand of content that speaks to the individual more than it speaks to the consumer.

EDM is a perfect example of digital Darwinism; a format that has evolved significantly to thrive in the fast and fickle online universe. Although the EDM that choked up your spam box in 2005 is well and truly dead, its modern descendant is the picture of health.