What comes to mind when you think about brand safe marketing? Probably what a big challenge it has become over the years. For all the incredible potential provided by digital marketing, it comes with a host of challenges, with brand safety being one of the most significant. A brand wants to do everything possible to ensure it’s image isn’t negatively impacted by an issue in one of its advertising campaigns. With so much of digital advertising today done programmatically, brands place a lot of trust in their marketing partners and tech platforms to keep ads from appearing next to or within potentially reputation-damaging content. But, with automated buying and placement decisions being made in milliseconds, there are going to be risks and real-time transparency isn’t feasible.
While brands continue to move budgets to digital channels, they are also drawn to those options that provide potentially more brand safe environments. One channel that advertisers continue to turn to is email marketing. Email marketing doesn’t have the bright shiny new object status that it had 40 years ago, when it was first unleashed and commercial email did give the word ‘spam’ new meaning beyond a canned meat product. But, a funny thing happened as the digital marketing ecosystem evolved. Email started looking at lot more stable and ‘safe’ compared to various other channels. Add the fact that email usage keeps growing consistently year-over-year and it’s no wonder more companies continue to devote budget to this channel as it drives consistently strong ROI.
“What other marketing channels can someone unsubscribe from? Email is the only one. What other channel does the marketing message consume the entire screen, offers unrestricted and total creative control and can be targeted to the individual consumers advertisers want to reach – and suppress the users they don’t? From a brand safety perspective, no other channel can provide as much flexibility and control as email.” – Amanda Coleman, Founder/CEO, Bliss Media
Quick Tip: One misconception for many advertisers is that you must spend an exorbitant amount of time and money creating your own email list. However, an immediate way to tap into the email channel is to partner with publishers who can initiate emails to their already developed list on an advertiser’s behalf.
Why Email Can be a Brand Safe Marketing Channel
There are a number of reasons why email can be a very brand safe channel, when used properly. Here are just a few major factors.
- Regulatory Landscape – As one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, email has the advantage of a well-defined regulatory structure that spells out the rules that marketers need to follow to deliver compliant email campaigns. Many newer marketing channels are still in their ‘wild west’ days, that email emerged from over 15 years ago. While email’s capabilities continue to grow, the rules introduced by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 were broad enough to encompass the channel as it has evolved. Brands and email marketers have found that by and large, the rules are a good thing. They set up guidelines to follow, in order to feel confident that they are marketing in a compliant manner – and those rules have not curtailed the ability to use email as a tremendously effective marketing tool. Not surprisingly, email service providers and tech companies like OPTIZMO Technologies have developed solutions to help marketers stay compliant, while continuing to use email as a top performing marketing channel.
- Existing Opt-Out Process – As part of the CAN-SPAM Act, specific requirements for the opt-out process were defined. This sets email apart from other digital marketing channels, where the ability to opt-out of receiving future advertisements often involves a hodgepodge of third-party ad blocking solutions, internet browser settings, mobile device settings, and social account options designed to give the consumer more transparency and control over the ways companies can market to them. The email marketing opt-out process is designed to be straightforward and easy for email users to navigate. This is actually a great asset for brands, as they don’t really want to waste their efforts marketing to consumers who have no interest in their messaging. Giving email recipients the ability to easily opt-out is good for both brands and consumers.
- Consumer Experience – While email platforms and inboxes have continued to evolve over the years, email remains very recognizable and understandable for consumers. It largely comes from the fact that email grew as digital version of direct mail. There is a comfortable and recognizable user experience to receive mail in your inbox/mailbox, where you can sift through those messages when it is convenient for you. Because of this, email is actually among the most unobtrusive forms of marketing for consumers and one where they have the most control over the entire experience. For brands, this means that their audience is choosing to engage with their message at a time convenient for them, rather than having display ads appear on websites, social ads popping up in news feeds, or video ads playing in the middle of a video stream.
- Focus on List Quality – Marketing to a disengaged audience can be detrimental both from a performance and general brand image standpoint. That’s one reason a trend has continued in the email marketing industry putting a focus on quality data. More marketers are leveraging first party data and when they do work with partners and vendors to augment those efforts, they are looking for quality over quantity. This focus on quality improves the overall level of list accuracy and has a positive effect on message relevance to the audience and overall campaign performance. An email agency like Bliss Media can make it easy for advertisers to connect with quality publishers to deploy sponsored emails.
Let’s be clear, this is not to say that email marketing is perfect or that email in and of itself doesn’t come with its share of challenges. There are bad actors in every marketing channel, using ads for phishing scams, hacking, ad fraud, and other negative or illegal purposes – and email is no exception. However, the history and structure around the email industry provides more assurances to advertisers that their campaigns can be executed in a brand safe way.
At the end of the day, advertisers want marketing to be brand safe, but it also needs to be effective. Email clearly hits the mark, as it continues to deliver an extremely high ROI for advertisers (often the best ROI of any marketing channel).
About Tom Wozniak
Executive Director of Marketing – OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC Tom Wozniak heads up marketing and public relations for OPTIZMO Technologies, a company that delivers the industry’s most robust platform for email compliance and suppression list management to clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. Wozniak brings over 20 years of experience in the digital marketing arena, having worked for companies across Ad Tech, performance marketing, database marketing, and the traditional agency arena. Prior to joining OPTIZMO, he was VP of Marketing at SpotX, a digital video ad server and programmatic marketplace. He has also held leadership roles with Trueffect, Media Breakaway, Cahners Publishing, and NextAction, among other companies. Over the years, Wozniak has helped guide multiple startup and growth phase companies through the challenges of rapid growth. In addition, Wozniak has launched several successful endeavors in the real estate investment arena. Wozniak has gained experience in B2B and B2C marketing, sales, business development, client success, and training, across a wide variety of industries. He lives in Denver, CO and is an active real estate investor who also mentors young entrepreneurs.