Email marketing has been kicking around for a while now, 40 years to be precise. To put this into perspective, the public has only had access to the World Wide Web since 1991 (27 years ago)... Email even predates the internet as we know it!
The world of technology and digital marketing has progressed a lot since email began, we have seen the launch of household names like Google (1998), Facebook (2004) and even the first ever iPod (2001). We can now access Google, social media, music and email from our mobile phones, with the first one being created in 1973 by Motorola, so looking at the advancements in tech over the past 40, or so, years is quite astounding. Which begs the question, Why do we still use email today amongst all the other digital marketing options available to us, like social media and Google Ads?
How has email marketing managed to stand the test of time?
Where it all began…
Back in 1978, Gary Thuerk (a marketing manager for Digital Equipment Corp.) used ARPANET (the beginnings of what we now call the internet) to send out a “mass” email to 400 customers promoting the company’s equipment. This was the first instance of utilising email marketing as a tool to sell and it worked! The company recorded an amazing £13 million worth in sales. However, although 400 recipients wouldn’t be considered much in terms of mass emailing now, it was seen as a lot back in the day. There was a lot to gain from the first digital marketing efforts made by Thuerk, but it also gained him the nickname ‘Father of Spam’, but we think the sales speak for themselves.
It didn’t take people too long to catch on, by the 90s email marketing was commonplace and spam was very, very common. This led to the 1998 Data Protection Act being put into place (this is what GDPR expanded upon in 2018) to control the levels of emails being sent, making it mandatory for recipients to be able to opt out of the email communications. Now email is a part of everyone’s day to day lives, it is used for commercial, business and personal reasons alike and has become even more accessible with the launch of smartphones in the noughties.
Why do we still use email marketing?
It may be 40 years old, but email is still pulling in numbers. In fact, according to Campaign Monitor, email marketing drives 173% more conversions than social media. So it’s not hard to see why people are still utilising it in their digital marketing plans. The main benefits of it are:
- Cost - email marketing is low cost, you can use software like Campaign Monitor (starting at £9p/m) or MailChimp (Free options available, but starting at £10p/m) to send out visually appealing, automated emails to a list of your subscribers. If you are really concerned with cost, you can send out emails manually with your own email account - all it will cost is your time!
- ROI - your return on investment (ROI) can be massive if you play your cards right. It has a median ROI of 122 percent, which is 4x above that of other efforts like social media or paid search.
- Automation - using email specific software (like the ones mentioned above), you will be able to keep tabs on the results your email campaigns are getting. You will be able to see how many people opened your emails, as well as how many people clicked on content within it. From this, you will be able to assess what content works and what you need to work on. You will even be able to schedule and automate your emails for ease of use!
If you do opt-in for email automation software and scheduling email campaigns, Tuesday is the best day of the week to send emails (with Thursday as a second option) and the best times to send an email are 10 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to midnight, according to Coshedule Research.
How to reel people in…
The most important goal of 54% of email marketing influencers is to increase the engagement rate of email marketing, according to Ascend2. You may think that as the generational demographics shift that those using email may decrease, however, 58% of millennials have said that email would be their preferred method of contact from brands. The audience is still there, so how do you engage them?
Email is a great way to promote and sell products, to notify people of upcoming news, sales and offers and to just generally keep people updated with your company. But, you have to make sure it is hitting the right audience. Much like social media or paid search targeting, there is a way you can highlight certain people you want an ad to go to…
Email segmentation is a great way to make your email marketing more direct. This allows you to put email subscribers into smaller segments based on set criteria. You will be able to use software to identify things like their geographic location, interests, purchase history, and much more, and from there you can segment them into relevant categories. Segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue and marketers list it as a key attribute to their email marketing efforts. This is a great way to personalise and deliver more relevant email marketing to your subscribers. For example, if you have an offer on at a particular store, you can identify which of your subscribers live close to that store and target them with an email to notify them, with the intention of it leading to more footfall.
It’s great but overusing your email marketing may result in a white noise effect, leaving your audience switched off to your updates. In fact, 78% of consumers unsubscribe from emails because brands were sending too many emails, according to Hubspot. Keep this from happening by having regular but meaningful email marketing campaigns or updates. For example:
- Monthly newsletters - keep your audience up to date with the goings on in your company by sending out monthly newsletters. Inform them of positive news (have you won any awards? Have you had a particularly good month?), new products or deals or even new staff members (if you have a smaller, more intimate company). Having that personal touch and keeping people up to date with your brand can be a great way to keep people in tune with you. Just don’t overdo it!
- Promotional offers - do you have a product that you have an offer on? Let your audience know! Emailing them with links directly to do the product is an easy way to increase the chances of conversion.
- Viral products - you may or may not be aware of the rise of viral cleaning sensation ‘Mrs Hinch’, but the products mentioned on her incredibly popular Instagram Stories (in which she shows you how to get your home sparkling clean) are now selling like hotcakes. In fact, it’s selling out across the nation! Have you managed to secure stock of a viral product? Let people know!
- Get feedback - you can send out surveys or feedback forms. This will give your business valuable next actions and suggestions for improvement directly from the people that interact with you.
- Be personal - greeting emails when a user signs up lets them know that you value their addition to your subscriber list. Also, keep in mind that personalisation is a great way to engage. 38% of companies are not undertaking any kind of personalisation, however, emails with a recipient's first name in the subject are 26% more likely to be opened and marketers have seen a 760% increase in revenue from segmented campaigns, which we mentioned above.
- Optimise for mobile - it was estimated that by the end of 2018, worldwide mobile email users were going to total over 2.2 billion and two-thirds of emails are read on mobile devices, so it’s important to cater to them. Emails not optimised for mobile devices get deleted by a majority (80.3%) of users. 3 out of 10 users unsubscribe from the list if the emails are not mobile optimised, according to Bluehornet. Ensure your content fits the bill!
You’ve got the plan, how do you increase the audience?
The majority of businesses with an online presence will have a sign-up page where visitors will be able to join their mailing list - the main objective would be to drive traffic towards this. Ensure that the page hosting the form is very visible to these visitors and you will be able to use social media posts or even verbal direction to send people onto this section of the website. There is also the option to manually sign people up, with their full consent, at events or on location!
You can use a giveaway or a competition to get people involved in either of these methods providing your website and email marketing efforts adhere to GDPR. Ensure that all subscribers have the ability to opt out at any point.
Email marketing may be 40 but it’s certainly aged well. There are several different digital marketing methods, but you should ensure that email is incorporated into your marketing strategy! If you’re looking for some assistance in this, or with any of your digital marketing, take a look at our services page and can get in touch with us through the form below.