Guide Sponsor - Michael Hilts, president and general manager, Yesmail

Michael Hilts, president and general manager,
YesmailNavigating the turbulent economic headwinds of 2009 is a challenge many businesses are resolving by reducing spend and channelling budgets towards programmes which measurably demonstrate a high return. The tricky bit is that many of the nascent channels, such as social media and mobile, are still very difficult to measure, nor do they easily demonstrate that all-important ROI.

Email marketing has been around a long time and is very measurable. In fact, the growth of email has been steadfast even with the advent of social media and marketing. Over the past five years not only have businesses been sacrificing print ads for online banners, but ad spend in general has suffered while email marketing spend has thrived.

The Direct Marketers Association estimates that marketers get a return of $45.06 on every dollar they spend on email campaigns. Also, according to the Marketing Sherpa Benchmark 2009, 75% of marketers state that email marketing is a good investment in a downturn economy. Email marketing is fast, cost-effective and measurable. These are all things that are critical for marketers as the global economy endeavours to climb out of a serious recession.

Smart businesses that choose to focus on these newer trends need to get better about making it all work together. Many companies are starting already. Email is more powerful today than ever before — from driving people to websites that house widgets, to blogs that have timely and powerful loyalty-driving content, and to Facebook and Twitter pages where even more personalised information important to subscribers is fresh and ultra-sharable. As all of these channels collide and blend, consumers are left with a million ways to parse information according to their preferences. Businesses enjoy unheard of exposure (good and, yes, sometimes bad) and enormous means to get people to opt in to their brand.

As we gain a foothold in 2009, those businesses that succeed won't have gone completely dark to save a buck in the short term. They'll mix and leverage and blend to reap the long-term benefits.