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How real-time analytics can change the email marketing game

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How real-time analytics can change the email marketing game

Email marketing has been around for what feels like forever, at least relative to the other digital advertising techniques.

Social, mobile and other types of ads are like shiny new toys for children. When they initially arrive, they feel like the greatest thing ever. They have kids' entire attention, and everything else seems old or boring in comparison.

There's a chance that new advertising methods could turn out to be Buzz Lightyear, but email marketing is definitely Woody.

Power in numbers
So what about email advertising has enabled these campaigns to transcend their time as the new kid on the block? Largely the same reasons that newspaper, TV, phone calls and face-to-face marketing hasn't died away.

Email has become a normal medium of communication in our everyday lives, much like talking face-to-face or speaking over the phone. Not only that, but it allows for the possibility of two-way communication - something that TV and newspaper ads aren't capable of.

And not only that, but they're a heck of a lot cheaper than most traditional forms of marketing. You don't have to pay someone a salary to sit on the phone or go door-to-door marketing your brand. Nor do you have to pay media companies or newspaper publishers through the nose to have a 10-second commercial broadcasted at 11:30 p.m., or a 5-by-5 (centimeter) ad show up in the obituary.

Email allows your company to send an unlimited amount of messages to your customers over a medium you know they probably use on a regular basis.

The next phase: real-time analytics
While all the characteristics mentioned above make email marketing optimal, the reality is that its cost-effectiveness is one of the main reasons it is still so prevalent. It costs a minimal amount to send large email chains, and even a low click-through rate can produce a quality return on investment.

For awhile, however, the problem was always measuring results in a timely manner. All you could really do was track click-through rates and the differences in sales before and after you launched a campaign. While there's value in those measurements, they don't take a number of (potentially relevant) factors into consideration.

It also means you can only measure your campaigns at a near-glacial speed.

"Marketers aren't able to act on data immediately," Susan Etlinger, industry analyst at Altimeter Group, recently told BtoB Magazine. "They have to go through an approval process that requires multiple layers to sign off on changes."

The rise of real-time analytics could change all that. Google Analytics, for instance, has several real-time widgets that enable you to measure website visitors, social media traffic and more instantaneously.

The most targeted messaging yet
Segmentation is one of the big marketing buzzwords right now. This process involves breaking customers down - based on gender, age, location, interests and really anything else you can think of - in order to develop more targeted marketing campaigns.

Jeff Seacrist, vice president of product strategy at analytics provider Webtrends, told BtoB Magazine that "real-time behavior is the most powerful segmentation" that's out there.

"The biggest thing people will need to do is go back over time and benchmark how different campaigns and emails performed at different points in time and within specific contexts so marketers can try and make some reasonable inferences as to which strategies to use in the future," Etlinger told the news source.

Being able to analyze this information in real time enables marketers to put everything into context. By combining those other areas of segmentation with real-time analytics, you can take your targeted marketing campaign to the next level.