Email marketing - unsexy maybe, but still super effective

Don't believe everything you hear about the death of email marketing - it's alive and kicking (arse).

The statistic that's been going around for a while is the return on investment from email marketing, which - if correct - is an absolute standout amongst all of the (digital) options to market your business. The figure quoted is either $38 or $43 return for every dollar spent, and that's from stats out of the US.

It doesn't matter how many social media channels there are, everyone checks their email (mostly on mobile devices and at any time of the day or night) and - as long as your emails are making it into people's inboxes* - then email marketing still works.

People's perception of what email marketing is is very different and (in my view) there are at least two different types, possibly three.

Type 1 - the 'email blast'

Typically used by online and offline retailers to target consumers, these are generally based around a one-time offer, for example '10% off today only' or similar. Unsurprisingly these emails generally have a low open rate and high unsubscribe rate...

Unless the group of people receiving these emails are massive fans of the brand or company in question (I suspect the ROI figure quoted above is based on this type of email marketing, since results are easily and quickly measurable).

Type 2 - the 'newsletter'

Used by both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) organisations, the impact of this style of email marketing again depends on the perception of the brand and whether recipients are interested enough to read these.

Type 3 - the 'autoresponder'

An autoresponder is a 'set and forget' series of emails that go out to people who sign up for them, typically by requesting an ebook or some sort of guide. Autoresponders are a great way of 'educating' your audience about what you do and the value of your product or service.


All of these approaches can be really effective if done well. Contrary to popular perception people don't 'hate' email - they just hate stuff that simply isn't relevant to them. Something one person find boring another will find incredibly useful. It boils down to really knowing your audience/customers and making sure that your emails have relevant/useful/entertaining information. In other words, knowing who your 'perfect client' is, and what matters to them.

Here are a few email success stories from our own archive (ie our own client campaigns)...

Client A hadn't sent an email 'newsletter' for a while. We put together an email update which was part information, part light hearted update to clients and contacts. One week later a company they had quoted a job for months ago got back in contact after reading their newsletter and the client landed a $50K contract with them.

Client B operates in a somewhat 'boring' but necessary field. We put together a monthly email update to their customers, which got a consistently high open rate. One month we were a few days overdue and they got several calls from their customers saying 'where's your email newsletter?'

Client C is a scheme to promote a group of retailers. Started from scratch, the list has grown to include around 17% of the local population. Every time an email update goes out site traffic increases to 4x normal. In conjunction with other marketing channels (eg social media, PR) site traffic occasionally peaks at ~60% of the local population.

Email marketing as a strategy can perform well on its own, but in conjunction with other strategies can be incredibly powerful. Email + social media or email + print or email + publicity can be very powerful and give a marketing campaign a level of cut through it is hard for just one technique to achieve (read the Staples Canada case study here).

At the very least, even if your open rates and click through rates are low, simply appearing in your contacts' email inbox say 'yes, we're still here if you need our services'. A while ago, after having missed two (or maybe it was three) months of email contact with our database, I bumped into someone I hadn't seen for a while. He said, 'Haven't seen your email for a while. I didn't know if you were still in business.'

If for no other reason, make sure you let people know you're still around by sending them an email every now and again. We'd recommend at least every month!

PS if you'd like to know more about what works in email marketing and how you can really drive the impact of your email marketing, check out our masterclass workshops on email marketing.

* this topic needs an article all to itself

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