Updated on 23/02/2023
When it comes to communicating with your customers and prospects, although social still has to be part of the marketing strategy, many brands are focusing more attention on an old standby: email.
While the appeal of email may have faded in the light of new platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, recent events have users thinking twice about the trustworthiness of certain platforms, a trend that brands and marketers have to pay attention to. Over the past year, users have gained a greater awareness of how social media platforms operate, and especially how they use personal data.
For one, what users “see” on social platforms like Facebook is largely controlled by an algorithm and your brand post in a user’s feed might be flanked by political messages, questionable “news” stories, or because posts are not shown in chronological order, it may never be seen at all. In addition to concerns about how personal data is used, and who it may be sold to, these events have led to a backlash from users, some of whom have called to “delete Facebook,” while others are considering leaving social media altogether.
A study by the Pew Research Center of US found that:
- 42% of Facebook users have taken a break from the platform for several weeks or more;
- 26% have deleted the app from their phone.
This is not to say that users or brands are abandoning social, but it does mean that users have lost trust in the platforms, for now. Instead, an old standby is getting renewed attention as the best, most secure way to communicate with customers.
After all, email is a medium that has never stopped growing.
According to Statista, there are more than 3.8 billion email users in the world, with more than 4.3 billion projected for 2022. A report by the Radicati Group found, more than 281 billion business and consumer emails were sent per day, representing a 4% growth over the previous year. This is expected to grow to more than 333 billion per day by 2022.
Compared to social media, email offers a more reliable chance that your message is actually seen. According to this article from The Manifest, compared to the inbox, where 90% of emails arrive safely, only 2% of a brand’s Facebook followers may actually see your business posts in their feed. In addition:
- An email message is 5x more likely to be seen than on Facebook – Radicati
- Email has a 66% conversion rate for purchases vs. social – DMA
- Email is 40x better for customer acquisition than Twitter or Facebook – McKinsey
So, why email is still important?
Email has proven to be an effective marketing tool, since the first marketing email 40 years ago, up to today. Here’s what makes it such a valuable tool for your marketing strategy.
1. Email is still a top performer when it comes to results
A 2017 study from The Relevancy Group found that 21% of total revenues in Q2 2017 were due to email according to marketing executives. In a report on the publishing industry, Publishing Executive found that email was the top technology driving revenue.
The DMA’s email tracker report found that ROI from email is up from around £30 in 2017 to over £32 in 2018, which is considerable given the challenges of implementing regulation such as GDPR and the competition from other platforms. In the survey, marketers identified email as a central part of the multi-channel strategy, where results in click-throughs (52%), open (51%), and conversions (49%) have all improved over previous years.
2. Email is a more intimate way to connect with users
Customers and prospects are overwhelmed with information. Where social media is a one to many platforms, with email, you’re meeting customers one on one, entering their private space, and here, the rules of the game are different.
Email is the perfect place to add a personal touch, which could be as simple as addressing the recipient by name, including a personalized subject line, and, even better, ensuring that the email you’re sending is personalized according to their interests and their needs.
A survey by Adobe found that 27% of respondents want brands to send email that is personalized to their interests, and Campaign Monintor reports that 74% of marketers can point to personalization for increasing engagement with prospects. Brands should be taking advantage of the customer intelligence data on customers—transactional data, demographics, and preferences—to use segmentation and personalization in their email campaigns. Campaign Monitor reported that marketers “found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.”
3. Email is an open platform
While there are many email providers, unlike other platforms, no one can get between you and the recipient of your email. Apart from user-defined preferences and the spam filter, there is no algorithm at work to decide which emails should be seen. Emails are recieved and shown in chronological order and it’s up to the recipient to decide to open it.
According to various reports, people receive an average of 120 emails a day. This means that the competition for eyeballs and a recipient’s time is tough. Therefore, the onus is on brands and marketers to make sure that, when they send an email, it should be considered valuable by the recipient.
4. When it comes to email, users are in control.
The European Union’s GDPR regulation is a reminder for brands that it’s a privilege to have a customer’s email address. The regulation, which went into effect in May 2018, empowers users with the right to opt out or be left alone entirely, and imposes hefty penalties on companies who misuse the privilege of email. In the wake of GDPR and recent social media scandals, “consumers now have a heightened awareness of the value of their data to businesses,” says Accenture’s Russell Marsh in Digiday. Although the US currently does not have a similar law, awareness is up, and regulation is probably not far behind.
These regulations are just a reminder for brands and marketers to make sure they’re tuned in to who they are talking to and what customers are interested in: Email must be relevant. GDPR and any forthcoming regulations are an opportunity to build trust with customers and prospects, to show that their personal information is in good hands and that it will be used for their benefit in the form of useful information, relevant offers, and more.
5. It’s an opportunity for creativity
All of this is an opportunity for marketers to make your email stand out from the rest. This is a chance for brands to apply creativity in the form of design and also content. The newsletter started becoming popular in 2017 and brands, including publishers like The New York Times, are investing in “publishing” their newsletters on a tried and true platform: Email, which tech entrepreneur Jason Calcanis called “the largest social network.”
Another form of engagement that is gaining traction for it is interactive content: videos. According to the now famous stat from Forrester, if a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth 1.8 million words. With video, brands can communicate much more, in less time, and in ways that are emotional and memorable—such as through stories or, even better, through personalized videos that are tailor-made for the recipient. Some reports have found that interactive email content such as videos can increase the click-thru rate by 73%.
Now in its 41st year, email is still a key element of the marketing strategy.