Is email a spent force in marketing?

Why email will never go out of style – and why greater data sophistication means you can do to more to make sure your email strategy gets results…

Email marketing is about to enter its fifth decade. The first ever marketing email was sent by Gary Theort in 1978. Five years before the dawn of the modern internet, he sent an email to 400 Digital Equipment Corp. customers.

His email purportedly earned an average return of $32,000 per recipient – or a total of nearly $13 million. No small sum in 1978! Although some of the recipients complained, nobody at Digital Equipment Corp. would have told Gary Theort that email marketing was a waste of time.

But, more than 40 years later, is email marketing still relevant?

 

Global interaction

The email communication era certainly isn’t over. In fact, email use is growing.

According to The Radicati Group Email Statistics Report 2018 – 2022, the growth of both global email traffic and the number of email users will outstrip population growth every year projected in the report. And that’s from a start where today more than half the world’s population (3.9 billion out of 7.7 billion) already use email.

The fact that billions of people use email does not guarantee email marketing is worthwhile. Metrics about ROI and customer experience are needed to assess that.

 

Email marketing statistics

According to Marketing Week, 73% of marketers rate email as their primary channel for return on investment (ROI). And for most brands, this makes sense – research carried out by the DMA shows that in 2016, ROI on marketing emails was £30.03 for every £1 spent. This rose to £32.28 for every £1 spent in 2017.

With further improvements in technology and targeting, the ROI figure for 2018 is expected to be even higher. So don’t write email off just yet.

 

Omnichannel strategy

But, as any marketer knows, you mustn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Overreliance on email could disenfranchise customers. According to HubSpot, 78% of consumers have unsubscribed from emails because a business was sending them too many. The key is making sure email fits neatly into your omnichannel strategy.

In fact, email is so important that you can’t have an effective omnichannel strategy without it. Email is critical to both launching and maintaining your omnichannel approach. It connects brick and mortar with digital, and spans the ever-expanding list of channels, platforms, sites and devices.

 

Critical analysis

Deciding when email is the right means to connect with consumers, should follow the same logic as all marketing decisions – is it the right message, for the right person at the right time? To answer these questions you need to first identify, and then form an understanding of, your target market.

Once you know who they are, you need to assess whether you have a suitable message and sufficient email addresses to make an email campaign worthwhile.

The most obvious target market for emails is often your existing customer base, or a portion of it. But be wary of overloading these loyal customers with unwanted communications. The last thing you want is your most reliable and profitable consumers deciding they no longer want to hear from you.

 

Email is here to stay

Although GDPR scared a lot of businesses when it was put in place, the long-term effects of GDPR are positive – especially when you combine this with new segmentation techniques.

As more information is gathered about consumers, you can reduce the chances of sending them unwanted emails through the application of technology and expert analysis. Rejection and unsubscribe rates are significantly reduced when emails are made relevant to the recipient.

No business should be put off using email by best-practice requirements or legal obligations. In fact, both these considerations are often in line with what the customer wants. So it’s in your best interests to follow them.

Email continues to outperform social media, SEO and affiliate marketing in almost every measure. In 2019 it remains the most effective marketing channel – and the only one to perform better than non-digital forms across all demographics.

So don’t give up on email just yet. In fact, don’t ever give up on it – just do everything in your power to make it strategic, timely, and personally relevant to the recipient.

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