In a world of smart phones and webinars, video content and social media, you would think that email had little place anymore. But despite all of us being constantly available digitally, it's the humble email that remains the beloved tool by Marketers in reaching their customers.
In a recent poll by HubSpot of their users, 33 % of marketers send out emails on a weekly basis, and 26% send them out multiple times a month - with 77% of marketers seeing an increase in their email engagement over the previous 12 months.
But with 4 billion email users worldwide and that set to rise to a staggering 4.6 billion email users by 2025, and a staggering 306 billion emails being sent and landing in people's inboxes every day, are you missing a trick by not including email marketing in your marketing strategy?(1)
Speaks to your customers... directly
The beauty of that personal email straight into someone's inbox is the kind of one-to-one audience that social media finds hard to replicate. But with people on average spending just 9 seconds reading your email (2), you have to make sure that the content is relevant and of high quality.
According to Reach First, a next-gen AI-enabled digital marketing agency, the trend to personalisation in email marketing will become even more precise as we head into 2024. They predict that instead of sending out generic messages to customers, businesses will use the data they hold to create emails which are specifically tailored to the recipient, making each one 'feel' like the email was crafted with only them in mind. A real understanding of the particular subscriber's behaviour and preferences will be needed to send out such customised emails.
So who in recent months has been achieving just this with their email marketing and getting customers coming back for more?
One such company is UK brand HelloFresh with their 'Recipe of the Week' campaign. The meal kit delivery service provides customers with fresh ingredients and recipes to prepare meals. The whole premise of their offering is meals like home-cooked with the effort of shopping taken out. Their successful email marketing campaign is centred around their Recipe of the Week.
It does three things:
- It has valuable content of a new recipe to inspire subscribers and get them coming back for more.
- It drives user engagement with subscribers encouraged to rate and review the recipes - producing a sense of community.
- Each email is customised based on user preference and their previous meal choices - keeping the contents fresh and in line with each subscriber's taste - it's not a blanket email for everyone.
Subscribers feel understood and valued. And if you know your readers have a short attention span and are just going to skim read the content, then keep it short and snappy. Design your email with that in mind and give them what they want to catch their attention.
If your email campaigns aren't doing that, then you need to rethink them. Email marketing is permission-based, so recipients have opted in to hearing from you - so give them something they want - that they take notice of in those few seconds of skim reading or be relegated to the Recycle Bin, or worse still, be unsubscribed.
It gives an ROI like no other...
Email marketing gives an ROI (return on investment) on average driving an ROI of £36 for every £1 spent, higher than any other channel according to email marketing provider Litmus. The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) estimates it as an average of £42 so higher still - but keep in mind that it's the hyper-personalised and dynamic content that invariably achieves the higher returns. You get the picture. The harder your email works, the better the return.
Using your email marketing well offers one of the best returns on investment. This can be attributed to the ability to target customer segments, the relative low cost of email campaigns compared to other marketing methods, and the potential for nurturing leads through the sales funnel.
According to HubSpot Blog Research from 2023, B2B marketers also say that new product and feature announcement via marketing emails have the highest click-through rate with 50% of people buying from marketing emails at least once per month according to SaleCycle from 2022. And according to Statista, advertising email has seen higher click-through rates than on social media.
So, what's not to love? The predicted death knell of email marketing with the influx of social media just didn't materialise and email marketing outperforms other forms of marketing yet still attracts the smallest portion of the marketing budget. There's a lesson there.
Its versatility makes it stand out from the crowd...
So while other marketers are looking for influencers, putting all of their faith in SEO, affiliate marketing and social media, it's email marketing that gives you the edge. Do that properly and you will have a tool under your belt that will deliver you sales and leads. But what does 'doing that properly' mean?
Automation is the key to email marketing in the 21st century. You are only as good as the campaign you deliver so using the right technology - it's there, so make the most of it - will make your campaign the most powerful it can be. Email marketing platforms offer powerful automation and segmentation features that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your campaign significantly. You send emails to the right people at the right time. You can also use the automation to segment your email group - no two people are ever the same and understanding how you need to target them and sticking to that will help build that rapport that you need to build trust which invariably pays dividends in terms of sales and forging relationships.
Making the most of automation also empowers businesses to make the right and informed decision about their email marketing strategy. And if we're talking about automation - and this all sounds like it's too hard, then there's automation out there that will help you build the foundation to a great email campaign in the form of AI.
The clothing retailer Stitch Fix has leveraged AI and automation to send highly personalized emails to customers. Using data on each client's style profile, purchase history, and feedback, Stitch Fix's algorithms generate customized product recommendations and outfit suggestions to include in email campaigns. The AI tools select dress, shirt, trouser and accessory options tailored to the individual based on fit, size, style and colour preferences. This hyper-personalization allows Stitch Fix to send emails with curated products and styling advice as though a personal stylist selected items just for that customer. Early testing showed the AI-personalized emails had a 14% higher click rate compared to generic product emails. The customized content keeps customers more engaged, leading to increased sales. Automation allows Stitch Fix to scale this level of personalisation in a way that would not be possible manually.
The Stitch Fix example demonstrates how AI and automation can take email relevance and customisation to the next level, boosting outcomes. This type of innovation in email marketing technology shows there is still room for growth and improvement in the channel.
Email validation is integral to the automation process
You can do all the creative work you like as a Marketer to ensure you have a great concept for an email to reach your subscribers and for them to engage with your business, but if that email address you are using hasn't been verified, then all that work could be in vain. Email validation software can reduce the bounce-back rate of your emails by 98%, and it can also reduce the risk of your emails landing in Junk folders and never even being seen. And according to research from DQ Global, between 50% and 75% of the success of a B2B marketing campaign is down to the accuracy of the data available(3). With that in mind, it makes sense to ensure your email has the best possible chance of getting to its destination; validation should be a given if you want to ensure the ROI from your email marketing campaign.
So, is Email Marketing dead? No, not by a long shot. Its enduring popularity is due to its ability to deliver a wide reach and cost-effective direct communication that cannot be achieved so well across new platforms. Done well, it can drive engagement like no other and build the kind of connections that build brands. It's an ethical way of reaching out to your customers and remains the best marketing channel for businesses to achieve their goals, maintaining that competitive edge in this digital world of ours. Email Marketing isn't going away any time soon.