With the advent of mobile and increasingly diverse options for marketing via social media channels, the death of email marketing has been predicted time and time again. There’s no denying that 2016 has been a watershed year in terms of mobile marketing—and a majority of that has not been email-based. So—the question remains: What is the state of email marketing? Is it still a viable strategy? Is it a dying strategy that might reach a few demographics but is on its way out? Or is it a complete waste of your marketing budget?
Here’s a shocking truth that might give you a hint: sales for retail stores, initiated via email marketing, have quadrupled between 2009 and 2013 according to Custora. This case study looked at 86 different stores and over 70 million consumers. If the dates seem a bit stale, we can also look at Custora’s Black Friday research from 2015: email marketing was the largest driver of online retail sales. And it was largest by a significant margin; a quarter of online retailer sales on Black Friday were email driven.
How is Email Competing with Social Media?
While social media offers companies the opportunity to engage with customers, much of that engagement must be, by necessity, customer-initiated. We all know how banner blindness—which might as well be called ad-blindness, at this point—has affected social media advertising. So, to build a strong relationship based on two way engagement with customers via social media, companies must rely on customers to seek them out. Carefully targeted email campaigns do not require this; they give the company a way to reach out to the consumer in a more direct way than a Facebook ad or a Twitter link.
Additionally, email provides the consumer with a convenient, personalized resource regarding what the company has to offer them. I can check the company’s web page weekly (if I remember) to see deals, but I might not see the deals most relevant to my needs. Email marketing, on the other hand, can take a customer’s history with the company into account and provide an ultra-personalized view of what the retailer currently has on offer. Plus, it can do so in a predictable, non-invasive manner—bi-weekly, once a month, etc.—without worrying about filtering via social media algorithms.
Finally, many customers have begun to prefer to relegate their personal communications to social media and their commercial communications to email—a major shift compared to just a few years ago.
Why Does Email Get a Bad Rap?
The biggest reason that email marketing gets a bad rap is simply poor execution. In order to be effective and to have high rates of conversion, email marketing must be well-targeted. The email marketing strategy itself must be well thought out, as well, down to the times of day and days of the week when emailing would be most advantageous.
Email marketing isn’t dead. It’s simply evolving. The tactics and strategies that reflect that evolution have proven that email marketing is still a viable, effective tool.