Not investing in email marketing is like not pursuing a woman who doesn’t show off as Instagram’s stars are doing so but yet she is a real treasure. You are completely unaware of what you are losing.
I get it. Email marketing doesn’t have the best PR or its history and email marketing specialists as a group for years had worked really hard to be disliked by customers and by other marketers too. Even I, as a member of this group, couldn’t count how many times I want to reply to spamming brands “stop bothering me you ‘we-will-inform-you-about-everything-even-if-it’s-not-interesting’ little monkeys!”. I won’t apologize on behalf of everybody because I’m a good email marketing professional and I don’t feel guilty… that much. However, I can explain how beneficial and often necessary email marketing is when it’s done with a sense of business goals and with an intention to maintain respectful customer relationships. Let’s dive in.
A digital marketing channel landscape has never been so complicated as now. In the tangle of social media, paid search, content, SEO, video ads, display ads, affiliate, and email, marketers struggle to choose a perfect mix for their strategies and budgets. Some of those channels need to be maintained no matter what. A clear example: if your business doesn’t do minimum SEO, your website probably doesn’t exist in search. But some are things to carefully consider and since a couple of them shine bright with promises of a wide reach and seduce with a quick traffic acquisition, it’s easy to get distracted and lose long-term focus on conversion. Yet research says that 4 out of 5 marketers declared if they have to give up one channel they’d rather give up social media than email marketing. Are marketers so bored with social media? Who’s not but that’s not the actual reason. The explanation is simple and for some marketing professionals quite obvious: email generates $42 for every $1 spent. The channel brings the highest 4,200% ROI (Hubspot, 2022). At the same time, only 20% of businesses declare that social media marketing yields a high ROI, paid search’s average cost-per-action is $59.18 for search and over $60 for display, and content marketing is whatsoever difficult to measure (Benchmark, 2017). I wouldn’t say that the mentioned marketing activities are unworthy to mix into the digital strategy. There’s just one thing to remember when it comes to choosing marketing weapons:
Numbers don’t lie, money counts and email marketing is still sexy.
Always by your side
Of course, research results and metrics fluctuate together with market changes and the evolution of user behaviors. Let’s indulge in a fantasy for a moment and assume that the upcoming future in the digital world is unpredictable and highly dangerous for those companies whose crucial part of income depends on Internet customers. In the ‘worst-case’ scenario Meta could be a step from being closed, YouTube might have been already blocked in a country in which your business operates, Google searches and display network may still work but prices are tripled and competition is fighting for each view and click. Where should business put its priority if diversification of marketing channels would be barely possible? Common sense would be to secure its own independent customer data and alternative ways to reach clients. Actually even without the digital media apocalypse nurturing your own customer database and building loyal relationships with them through regular email marketing communication seems a smart and safe business asset. And in case Mark Zuckerberg would decide “Ah, I’m done with it” and shut the last door in his office, your business would have better chances to survive without depending on other internet players and it would probably rebuild faster than your competitors.
An old friend is forever funky…
A quick look at numbers from a macro perspective is worth taking. In 2020 the global email marketing software market was valued at $7.5 billion and is projected to increase to $17.9 billion by 2027. There are 4 billion daily email users and this number is expected to climb to 4.6 billion by 2025 (Statista, 2021). Furthermore, “99% of email users check their inbox every day, with some checking 20 times a day. Of those people, 58% of consumers check their email first thing in the morning” (Hubspot, 2022). There’s not much to add. I think we can officially cross out the ‘Is email marketing dead?’ question from annual marketing articles and debates.
And meanwhile, when digital marketers yearly wonder if the email is still an essential retain tool, Twitter is investing in Revue and Substack is setting up a new media future. It’s not exactly what we think when we talk about email marketing, but I’m pretty sure mentioned software is not made for noble goals. Big players know where to dig for gold.
…but it’s not for everyone
By now it might sound like email marketing is a solution for all the digital marketers’ struggles and for all kinds of businesses. It’s absolutely not and it would be extremely hard to imagine that, for instance, a funeral home from your neighborhood would like to have your email address to present through a newsletter with new coffins once a month. Or, a less abstract and less distressing example, a vegan Korean restaurant would choose to focus their marketing efforts instead on Instagram presence but on a database collecting and email marketing (does anyone actually need any mail from their favorite food places as long as it is not at least 30% and somehow personalized discount offer?). That would be business nonsense and I would not recommend putting email marketing above everything else in every case. As with any marketing tactics or strategies, decisions about digital channels and spending should be based on business, market, customer understanding, and perfectly on a bit of experience too. How decisions are sometimes actually made, that’s a topic for a slightly different article. I’ll come back to it another time.