If you listen to today’s social media pundits, it would be easy to believe that email marketing is neither effective nor relevant in today’s digital environment. The logic goes that email has lost its luster to ‘sexier’ marketing channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, especially when the target audience is tech-savvy college students. Contrary to popular belief, email is the best engager of college kids as Boris Revsin, CEO of CampusLive, explains after the jump.
College Insight Series: Lesson #1 – Email can be just as good or better at creating action in the college market
When Facebook redesigned its messaging system in late 2010, the company intentionally built the user experience to be unlike email. As explained in the official Facebook blog, “To be clear, Messages is not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.”
Why was Facebook so focused on distancing messages from email? Because many pundits claim that, when it comes to capturing the attention of the college market and Gen-Y, social media channels reign over email.
So is it true? Is email marketing to college students on the verge of beingobsolete?
In our experience, the answer is clearly no. CampusLIVE is a platform that connects college students to leading brands through immersive online experiences. Our business is predicated on the fact that we understand, better than anyone else out there, how to engage today’s college students– and for us, email takes the prize. In fact, email drives about 50% of our users back to the site on any given day.
Here are a few reasons why email can actually be better than social channels for activating college students:
When spending time on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, students are faced with numerous distractions. On Facebook, for example, there’s news feed, activity feed, suggested friends, events,games, apps, and sponsored ads to name a few. How can marketersexpect to cut through all the distraction and get a student to payattention? It’s extremely difficult.
In contrast, when students are reading emails, they’ve got a single focus, a single task at hand. If you can capture their attention with a strong subject line, you’ve got them hooked long enough to present your call to action.
Students spend time on social sites to be, well, social. Their purpose is to interact with their friends and family, not with companies. Sure, many brands have thousands or even millions of “likes”, but most also have engagement rates far below 1%.
Students use their email addresses for many things, but one of the major purposes is to sign up for deals and alerts. Daily deal sites suchas Groupon and Rue La La have conditioned students to check their email every day so they don’t miss out on something great. Savvy marketers can capitalize on this conditioning to drive successful email campaigns.
Messages delivered on social platforms can be targeted to region, interest, and demographic information. But the ability to tailor messages to the individual is very limited.
Few channels can match email in terms of personalization. The more information that can be collected at sign-up, the more personalized the messaging can be, right down to first and last name. This is important for the student population in particular, as they are constantly bombarded with marketing, and the best chance to cut through the clutter is through targeted and personalized messaging.
The bottom line is that email marketing isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. While there’s no doubt that social media platforms are key drivers in engaging college students, they are not always the most effective in activating this highly sought after market. And we have the campaign results to prove it.
Boris Revsin is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of CampusLIVE, Inc, an engagement marketing platform targeting the higher-ed market. CampusLIVE is a venture funded business, having raised over $3M from premier venture firms Highland Capital Partners and Charles River Ventures.