- On October 25, 2019
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Time has been called on email marketing more times than we can remember. But, as I will demonstrate, email marketing is very much alive and kicking – and remains a vital part of brand strategy. Let’s read on to learn more.
Email is dead! Long live social media!
We’ve heard this exclaimed in one way or another so often over the past decade or so that I’ve lost count of how many times email marketing has supposedly met its demise.
But, like a cat with nine lives, email marketing just keeps bouncing back. And, with an eMarketer study saying that email marketing has an ROI (return on investment) of 122 per cent – four times than any other digital marketing channel – it’s easy to see why. Some even claim that email marketing offers potential return on investment of up to 4400%.
Shouldn’t social media have killed it by now?
Facebook used to be a great way for businesses large or small to organically build audiences and communities.
But Facebook (much like Google) has shifted the algorithms – as industry experts warned they would – so that businesses can’t gain more than minimal visibility for their content on there without paying for the privilege.
While some businesses and brands have swallowed the bitter pill and decided to invest in Facebook advertising in much the same way they might do for Google rankings and SEO, some brands don’t have the appetite or budgets to do so.
If Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn aren’t the right platforms for your brand, which online channel do you turn to?
Email is still fantastically popular
It would be easy to assume that people – and especially young people – have pretty much given up on email beyond the office environment, instead looking to apps and social media for their favourite brands’ latest content and offers.
Globally, we send 102.6 trillion emails every year, with 126.7 trillion expected to be sent in 2022 .
More than 90 per cent of people over the age of 15 use email in the USA alone. And the argument about social messaging apps making email obsolete for young people doesn’t ring true, as more than three-quarters of teenagers are not only still using email but think of it as a part of everyday life.
99 per cent of people check their email every day – some as many as 20 times. Many of us check our email before we even get out of bed in the morning thanks to us being able to access it so easily on our phones.
Good old reliable email
Sure, when email marketing seemed like all there was back before the dawning of the age of social media, our inboxes would become inundated with emails from brands that we might well have read had there not been so many of them.
How many newsletters have you unsubscribed from over the years because they just piled up? You’ve probably lost count.
Flip that around, though. How many do you still subscribe to, even after you’ve unsubscribed from so many? Why haven’t you unsubscribed from them all? I think it’s because there are a handful or more that we really value, and are very happy to receive and engage with.
Keep delighting your email subscribers
As the content team at eBusiness Institute explored in How the Subscription Economy is transforming consumer behaviours, subscription box customers always expect – or demand – to be delighted or surprised by the latest offerings they receive.
The same largely goes for subscribers to regular email marketing newsletters.
There’s something curatorial going on here, where your newsletter subscribers have decided they like the content you regularly send them, and will keep subscribing so long as you keep interesting them.
You don’t have to sell to them, either, as we can see in the following case study.
Email marketing and a captive audience
A much-celebrated example of a brand or business bucking the trend by turning to email marketing rather than Facebook or Google spend is Hiut Denim.
The business was on the brink of collapse not so long ago and didn’t have the budget to invest in Google or Facebook spend to build new audiences.
Co-founder David Hieatt hit upon the idea of starting an email newsletter full of content that people would like, regardless of whether they were buying Hiut jeans or not.
So, rather than be a very direct ‘buy this now’ platform for Hiut, this regular newsletter – now seen to be the benchmark for email marketing – is a tastefully curated roundup of Hiut’s recent blogs, videos and things that have Hiut’s attention.
Hiut is now thriving, and counts Meghan Markle among the ‘faces’ of the brand. David Hieatt is even the author of a highly influential book on the power of email newsletters for business.
Amazing. And he really strikes a chord with this quote he gave to the Wall Street Journal:
“If you ask me, would I want a mailing list with 1,000 people on it or 100,000 followers on Twitter, I’d take the 1,000 emails all day long, because the business you get from 1,000 emails will be much more than you get from 100,000 people on Twitter or Instagram”.
Email marketing, a hugely effective way of reaching audiences
And, while email marketing may cost you some extra time in comparison with investment in Facebook or Google paid options, it doesn’t cost you in terms of digital spend.
Furthermore, email marketing is considerably more effective than social media when it comes to getting your content in front of your intended targets.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can only claim to achieve a combined engagement rate of 0.58. That’s combined.
Compare that with email marketing’s average open rate of 22.86 per cent and even its click-through rate of 3.71 per cent. There’s only one winner.
There is also some evidence to suggest that overuse of social media can be detrimental to mental health. 34 per cent of Gen Zers (people born between the mid-90s and early-2000s) say that they are permanently leaving social media, with 44 per cent of those saying social media makes them anxious.
The old ways are sometimes the best
Besides engagement, email marketing allows you to take the power away from the algorithms that so often dictate who sees what online, and instead put your content right in front of the people that have signed up to receive it.
The underlying technology of email and the processes involved in creating content or campaigns for them hasn’t changed in decades. While some might say that it hasn’t progressed, others would argue that it hasn’t needed to, and that you always know where you stand with email.
The same cannot necessarily be said of social media, where the rules and algorithms are changing all the time, making it less predictable and easy to rely upon that email. The changes that Facebook and other social platforms make usually mean marketers paying out more in advertising fees.
Companies with email marketing in their armoury always know that they have their email lists to fall back on. They can reach their audiences – who must have explicitly signed up to receive their content, and can unsubscribe at any point – without the barriers hindering social media marketing.
It helps to be predictable sometimes. Marketers know when and how to plan their email marketing campaigns; and subscribers know when they’re going to receive it.
In conclusion – email is a vital part of the marketing mix
The fact of the matter is that email marketing remains one of the most important tools for engaging, attracting and retaining customers.
I’m not saying that your business should abandon Google or Facebook spend and all other digital marketing channels. Far from it.
What I am saying is that email marketing remains – and will remain – a highly effective means of appealing to potentially captive and highly engaged audiences. Email marketing is an essential part of your brand strategy.
Long live email!
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