Eddie Howard, Product Manager for Vocus

PromotionWorld had the opportunity to interview Eddie Howard, Product Manager for Vocus, a leading provider of cloud marketing software. He talks about the different aspects of email marketing and shares his insight on how businesses can take full advantage of email marketing – the most proven and cost-effective marketing tool for promoting products and services. Enjoy!

1. Can you start off telling our readers a few words about yourself? How long have you been involved in the online marketing field?

My name is Eddie Howard, I am the Product Manager for Vocus email marketing tools. I’ve spent the past 9 years in product management and 7 years in email and online marketing. I worked with digital marketing technology company Datran Media (now Pulsepoint), and the largest privately-owned Internet advertising network, Adknowledge, before starting with iContact and Vocus.
2. Tell us about Vocus and how your services can help small businesses better communicate with their customers and prospects.

Vocus is a leading provider of cloud marketing software that helps businesses reach and influence buyers across social networks, online and through media. Our integrated suites combine social marketing, search marketing, email marketing, and publicity into a comprehensive solution that helps attract, engage, and retain customers. In addition, our software sends real-time marketing opportunities directly to marketers in the form of leads, prospects, social media conversations, curated content, and inbound media inquiries.
3. Recently, Vocus commissioned Edge Research to survey 601 email marketing decision-makers at small to medium sized organizations. What are some of the key findings from the survey?

The Edge Research survey had some exciting and interesting key findings regarding email marketing. Email marketing remains the top type of marketing among SMBs by budget share, which is due in part because 91% of SMBs continue to find email marketing helpful in their company’s marketing. We also found out that over two-thirds of SMBs said the cost of acquiring a new subscriber is either reasonable or too low—and they can afford to pay more per subscriber if they had to. Not surprisingly, most SMBs have a list size under 10,000, and 24% have fewer than 1,000 contacts, and on average, SMBs are hoping to increase their list size by a modest 25%.
4. How are businesses currently using email marketing?

The most common use of email marketing is to share news about new products or services, the organization in general, or to advertise special events. In addition, the vast majority of SMBs are using email marketing for regular customer/client contact like email newsletters or soliciting feedback from subscribers.
5. Based on your experiences, what share of the marketing budget do the companies typically allocate to email marketing activities?

Email marketing remains the top type of marketing among SMBs by budget share. On average, SMBs are spending 15% of their marketing budget on email marketing, followed by Events/Tradeshows and other person-to-person contact. This pattern is consistent for SMBs of all sizes.
6. How can businesses measure the success of their email marketing campaigns?

Click-throughs, increased web traffic to the organization’s website, and new sales leads found through email are the top measures of email marketing success. SMBs are also measuring the success of their email marketing campaigns by monitoring the general increase in revenue or sales following email campaigns.
7. Are there any barriers to effective email marketing campaigns?

No one barrier stands out as a major problem for a large number of SMBs, and the overall rate of problems is on par with similar types of marketing. Of the barriers observed, worries about sending too many emails or overusing email lists were the most common, as well as concerns about SPAM filters.
8. What are your predictions for where email marketing is headed in the next 5-10 years?

Email and social media are the two fastest growing marketing channels for SMBs, with 56-60% of SMBs planning to increase budgets in these marketing activities. We’ve heard for years speculation that email is declining, but the numbers just don’t agree. I think email’s best days are still ahead— especially with social media forcing companies to rethink about their overall marketing strategy, which tends to start with a foundation of successful email marketing. I’m also seeing a transition to suite products that combine email, social media, and other marketing channels into one cohesive product, rather than SMBs using separate, ad hoc systems to accomplish this.
9. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has really changed how we communicate. How has this shift affected small businesses attitudes toward email marketing?

Combined marketing strategies between email and social media campaigns have become much more commonplace. Nearly two-thirds of SMBs now coordinate their email marketing with social media. SMBs are now able to complement their email marketing campaigns with effective social media strategies, and vice versa. This is ideal because exposing your company to prospects and customers in multiple channels is crucial to brand success.
10. Would you agree with the statement that email is the most cost-effective marketing tool for promoting products or services, and why?

Not only is email the most cost-effective marketing tool for promoting products and services, it’s also the most proven method for SMBs. We see this year after year with increases in email marketing budgets and resources. Email is relatively easy to monitor effectiveness and ROI, which is why SMBs trust and rely on email marketing more and more.
11. What’s the most important component of an email marketing campaign?

The most important component of an email marketing campaign is to remember to have a conversation with your subscribers, and be sure to really listen to them. Even though email campaigns are easy and inexpensive to deliver, we can’t lose our subscribers’ trust by sending stale content or too many emails. If we treat email marketing like any other method of conversing with our customers, we will undoubtedly be successful in our marketing efforts.