Is Email Marketing Still a Successful Marketing Tool?

I hate spam. I hate it particularly much because as a marketer I know that unsolicited emails are not only giving email marketing a bad name, it is also against the law. And I know I am not the only person who has become wary of giving up my email address to companies. So, one has to wonder: Is email marketing still a successful marketing tool?

first spam email

The short answer seems to be yes. While a 2015 study showed that over 50% of emails received were spam, 75% of companies still think that email offers “excellent” to “good” return on investment (Econsultancy, 2016, as reported by HubSpot). Here are some of the reasons why.


Email is the most consistently used channel

As of 2015, there were 2.6 billion email users worldwide and according to research conducted by ExactTarget, 91% of people check their email at least once a day. For most people, the first thing they do when they get to work is to open and check their emails. More often than not, your email programme is open the whole day, so you immediately see new emails that come in.


In a recent study, McKinsey & Company found that employees spend as much as 13 of their working hours on average in their email inbox. Another study by ChoozOn found that 57% of email subscribers spend 10-60 minutes a week browsing marketing emails.


email channel


These numbers make email the most widely and consistently used channel through which you can reach customers. In fact, it’s more likely that your email marketing will be seen by your intended recipient than it is that they would see your social media post. Email makes up such a significant part of our lives, that it would be a mistake to dismiss its marketing potential.


Email Marketing translates easily to mobile

Email marketing can easily be translated to mobile without the need for expensive tools or investment in new technology. This is important as more and more people are accessing information from their mobile phones. As much as two-thirds of emails are read on either smartphones or tablets (Marketing Land, 2015). In addition, the number of new smartphone subscribers is growing at more than 20% (TechCrunch, 2016).


email mobile


In other words, if you want to reach your customers, you better be thinking mobile and email marketing is the easiest, most effective and least expensive way to do this.


Email Marketing can be highly personalised and segmented

One of the main drawbacks of using traditional marketing techniques, is that it relies too much on a “shotgun approach” where you communicate the same message to every person regardless of their interests or preferences.  To effectively entice today’s customer, businesses have to take a more targeted and personalised approach. For example, if you were selling shirts, you would send the latest fashion trends for men to male customers only instead of to all your customers.


Email marketing makes it very easy to segment your email list and send individualised email marketing to your customers. This is a much more effective approach. Marketers have noted a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns (Campaign Monitor), while Hubspot reports that including the first name of the recipient in the subject line had higher click-through rates than emails tdthat did not (HubSpot, 2014).


Email marketing can also be set as a triggered campaign where automated emails are sent based on a specific action taken by a website visitor (such as making a purpose). According to a DMA report, over 75% of email revenue is generated by triggered campaigns, rather than one-size fits-all campaigns, while automated campaigns account for 21% of email marketing revenue.


email segmentation


Email Marketing is inexpensive

Of all the digital marketing tools at your disposal, email marketing is relatively inexpensive. There a number online platforms that help you send targeted and segmented emails and some, like MailChimp, offers a free option. Some platforms also offer the option of month-to-month billing or pay-as-you-go.


Whatever you choose, it is still much cheaper than television, radio or print advertising and none of these methods give you the benefit of segmentation and personalisation that email marketing does.


However, one cannot look at the cost alone without considering the return on investment email marketing offers.


Email Marketing offers a high return on investment

In a June 2016 survey of US marketers, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric found that email had a median return on investment of 122% – more than four times higher than other forms of marketing, including social media, direct mail and paid search. This is a pretty impressive return, considering that email is one of the least expensive tools in the marketing mix.


email roi


You may wonder about social media. Well, according to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter and you are six times more likely to get a click-through to your website from an email campaign than from a tweet (Campaign Monitor).  In another study by e-commerce firm Monetate, they found that 4.24% of visitors from email marketing campaigns make a purchase, compared to 2.49% of visitors from search engines and 0.59% from social media.

Email Marketing is the preferred method of communication for customers

Despite everything, research suggests that people still prefer to get information from companies through email. The introduction of consumer protection legislation such as the US’ CAN-SPAM Act, Canada’s CASL laws, the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and South Africa’s Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, Consumer Protection Act and Protection of Personal Information Act, has brought about greater protection against spam or unsolicited email marketing. This gives consumers greater peace of mind when they do decide to give up their email address.


The above legislations all require that consumers opt in to receive email from a company and that all email marketing provides the option to opt out or unsubscribe from an email list. This gives consumers greater peace of mind when they do decide to give up their email address. And companies are required by law to honour their wishes.


prefer email


This could be why a 2015 study by Statista found that 86% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly, while 15% indicated they would like to get emails daily (as reported by Hubspot). Another study by MarketingSherpa found that 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who preferred such content through social media.


From all the research conducted each year by various companies and experts, it seems that email marketing is still a strong contender and should still be an important part of your small business’ marketing strategy. It is true that social media and other marketing technologies continue to grow, but, at least for now, businesses should not be too hasty in cutting their email marketing budget. Rather make the time to ensure that you are sending the right email marketing to the right people at the right time.


In the coming weeks, we will focus on what you can do to make your email marketing more effective. In the meantime, take a look at some of the best email marketing examples highlighted in a recent article by Hubspot.


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