Email Marketing - The Coldplay of Marketing?

Ask the majority of people if they like Coldplay and most people say no. And yet they’ve sold over 50 million records worldwide, and they’re everywhere. On the radio, at awards ceremonies, their songs even get sung all the time by kids on X Factor, despite it being deeply unfashionable to say that you like Coldplay.

The Drum recently published a post by Simon Robinson from Kitcatt Nohr about email marketing, specifically a recent Google marketing email campaign.

Simon describes email as “marketing’s least fashionable media”, and expresses shock that one of the world’s coolest companies would stoop to a marketing technique as mundane and uncool as email. 

He does talk positively about the actual content of the email, saying that it ticks all the boxes by being targeted, personalised and designed to drive a response, but complains that it lacks an “idea”, it isn’t creative and is stuck in the 1980s. Simon also then expresses amazement that a company like Google is adopting techniques that direct marketers like Simon have been “banging on about” forever. 

Econsultancy published stats earlier in the year that 72% of respondents to a survey rated the ROI of their email marketing campaigns as “excellent” or “really good”, second only to SEO, which is a different kind of technique. In terms of direct and targeted marketing, email really is the most effective method. 

Yet even a direct marketing type like Simon makes unflattering and glib comments about email’s lack of cool, it’s outdatedness, lack of Web 2.0 cred. 

But you know what? Sometimes uncool stuff sells. Ask Coldplay.

Because the thing is, people know what to expect from Coldplay. 

I know as marketers we should strive for creativity and brilliance. The jpg Simon included in his post of Google’s mailer shows that it’s not creatively or visually exceptional. But his article made me ask, what does he want? 

You don’t have long in email to make your point, your mailer has to be compatible with a variety of platforms, stuff like video is out because people might open it at work or on a mobile browser. The emails need to show off the content and push the reader quickly towards the call to action, so the point can’t be drowned out by prettiness or flashiness.

True, if you can make the email look nice, great. And if it looks HORRIBLE, that’s obviously detrimental. But people don’t really expect marketing emails to be the height of creativity, and if an email broke the boundaries of what was expected it could well be detrimental to the campaign.

If Coldplay suddenly changed and did a crunk record people would get scared, or annoyed, or confused, and their sales would suffer. They’d get dropped by their record label. As a result the charities Chris Martin helps would get less money, there'd be a wave of dull bands trying to be "the new Coldplay" and Gwyneth would have to start making more films.

And no one wants that. 

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