Is Email Marketing Still an Effective Strategy for a Business in 2021?
With texting and app-based chat (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook) seemingly taking over the world, email might feel like it’s going the way of the dodo bird and dinosaurs.
Office-based communication platforms like Slack further speak to the false notion that email is obsolete.
Even with all this new and flashy communication tech, why is it simply not true that email is falling by the wayside?
First, a contextual answer: even traditional, physical mail still exists and thrives in specific areas. Sure, it’s not the staple it once was. Yet, it’s held firm in the face of an endless stream of innovations (most relevant of them being e-mail) that vastly exceeded its capabilities.
As newer, flashier, quicker forms of communication continue to change how we interact, there will always be a place for old standards. Postal services will continue to exist because goods will always need to be physically transported. You can’t digitize a mattress from a warehouse to your house. Therefore, many of us continue to have traditional mailboxes in the technological revolution, keeping the door open for something as seemingly old-fashioned as direct mail.
If direct mail still exists--and remains lucrative--you can bet your bottom dollar that email marketing is exponentially more profitable.
Almost everyone still has a work email address and a private one, too. In fact, 3.9 billion people have existing, functional email addresses, according to recent research.
Even with this broad-stroke information, it’s clear that using email for marketing is still a must for almost any company with an online presence. However, in this article, we’ll delve further into the reasons why email marketing remains an effective strategy for businesses to this day:
People Check Their Email. A lot.
Okay. It’s one thing for 3.9 billion to have an email address. Whether or not people use their email is a whole different story.
After all, the vast majority of the world’s population has plenty of things they own but don’t use. It could be an electric guitar. Maybe, it’s a treadmill. For some, it’s a food-blender. The mere act of having something doesn’t mean it’s integral to one’s life.
Email, however, remains a relevant staple in most people’s lives. Recent statistics show that Americans spend--on average--five hours per day looking at their email.
Even then, that’s still a broad number because email inboxes weren’t all created equal. There are work emails, personal emails, and sometimes even burner emails. With that said, let’s get a bit more granular with the details with survey-based numbers from Small Business Trends:
- Every 4 hours, 40% of email users check their work inboxes outside of office hours.
- Furthermore, outside work hours, 10% of people check their work emails every hour, 13% do so multiple times per hour, and 10% constantly look at their professional inboxes.
- 52% of survey respondents check their personal email at work every few hours, whereas 15% check it every hour, 14% do so several times in an hour, and 11% do it constantly.
Sure. People are attached to their chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. The same goes for texting. But the numbers listed above don’t lie. While everyone is chatting and texting ad nauseam on their laptops and mobile devices, they’re still finding time to check their emails.
These insights bring us to one of the core tenets that lay the foundation for any successful marketing campaign. Meeting your audience where they are. Do so by investing in the best possible email marketing tools for your business and working alongside the right talent.
Email Marketing Yields Substantial Returns
People don’t just half-heartedly see well-executed and properly segmented (more on this later) marketing emails land in their inbox only to ignore them.
It’s quite the opposite, really.
People are more responsive to email for marketing purposes than other methods with similar objectives in mind. To that point, $38 of revenue is generated for every $1 spent on email campaigns. That’s a 3,800% return on investment.
It’s not so cut and dry, of course. You don’t just start sending emails and, ‘voila!’ all your dollars turn to diamonds. There is an art and science to it all, involving strategy, execution, and consistency.
For instance, and referring back to a point we already made, segmented campaigns are said to generate a 760% increase in revenue for marketers. Moreover, segmented campaigns outperform their non-segmented counterparts by a hair under 101%.
What is email segmentation, you ask?
In short, segmentation involves marketers dividing subscribers into more specific segments according to various criteria. It’s meant to help personalize the marketing message so that recipients receive mail more relevant to them based on:
- Geographic location
- Personal interests
- Purchase history
- Tons more
These are all integral factors when executing successful email marketing campaigns. But they can only be properly incorporated by using the best possible email marketing platforms for your business. And you must know how to use such tech, most importantly.
Moreover, you’ll need the sure-handed guidance of e-mail marketing professionals--whether in-house or outsourced--to properly execute campaigns. The only way you can segment your subscription list is by having the list first. That only happens by working alongside experienced, insightful talent who know how to drive subscriptions.
While subscriptions do present a hurdle, they’re also your keys to success. When someone willingly signs up to your mailing list, they want to hear from you. You aren’t an uninvited guest invading a disinterested consumer’s private inbox. Instead, you’re a welcome presence providing something of value, giving your business a lucrative foot in the door.
The Fruitful Relationship Between Emails and Mobile Phones
The illusion that texting and chat apps have made email obsolete has something to do with mobile devices. Instant messaging and smartphones go hand in hand.
It makes sense. We’re in the era of instant gratification. Consumers want relevant content immediately, the second it comes to their minds. Plus, now, people are emotionally attached to their smartphones. As humans, we cease to function without them. It doesn’t take a statistical analysis to see that everyone, everywhere you go, is glued to the screen of the iPhone or Android device.
Perhaps, because email changed the world long before smartphones did the same, we overlook that the two coexist in seamless harmony. Really, who doesn’t have their email inbox directly connected to their smartphone?
Consumers aren’t limited to laptops, tablets, and desktops when looking at their emails. Since email apps are such a common feature on smartphones, everyone has their inboxes literally in the palm of their hands, all the time.
It’s then unsurprising to learn that 70% of people use their mobile app to check email. On top of that, mobile users check their email three times more daily than non-mobile users.
It’s certainly poetic that mobile phones--the devices that might have made email obsolete for marketers--have made people more attached to their inboxes than ever.
How Can You Optimize Your Emails for Mobile?
Given that mobile devices hold the keys to your email marketing success, we want to leave you with a few actionable tips on optimizing your email marketing templates:
- Use alt text
- Ensure images are sized properly
- Buttons are better than inline CTAs, offering a superior user experience
- Properly proportion your text around your images
- Don’t use multi-column layouts unless your email marketing templates are responsive
Be mindful, it takes users literally a matter of seconds to decide if your email offers an appealing mobile experience. You’ve got minimal time to make a good impression, meaning the visual layout is absolutely second-to-none with the mobile experience.
Unfortunately, with a layout not suitable for the mobile experience, your well-written, highly relevant content will be fruitless. Your carefully crafted marketing email will evaporate into nothingness. What’s worse, a poorly laid out email for mobile could land you in spam inboxes and lead to cancelled subscriptions.
On the other hand, mobile-optimized email marketing templates give you added leeway with users because of the bolstered UX.
Using Email for Marketing is a Newer Idea Than You Think.
What might seem old is still new.
The world is undoubtedly evolving with lightning quickness, but that doesn’t change the fact that email is a modern, innovative technology that’s only now hitting its stride.
To the above point, email was only embraced by the public in 1996. It’s still a baby compared to phone communications, televisions, and tons of older technologies highly relevant to this day. Thus, it’s not some antiquated tool that’s been made irrelevant by another emergent tech.
In fact, it’s accurate to say that email continues growing more effective--in new and exciting ways--as a marketing strategy by the day.
Businesses hesitant to invest in email marketing platforms need to ask themselves if they’re missing out on opportunities for growth and expansion.
Now, none of this is to say email is a magic bullet. There’s trial and error involved and proper steps to take. But when you dive into email marketing campaigns with the correct mindset, the world will be your business’s oyster, and you’ll never look back.