Email is dead—in terms of personal conversations between friends and family, that is, thanks to social media and conversational platforms. But not in terms of marketing emails between businesses and customers or leads. In fact, more than 60% of customers (those 25 and older in particular) would prefer to be contacted by brands via email according to a U.S. report by Adobe called “Email Use 2017.”
These days, email addresses act as a primary digital credential in the customer journey. As new privacy regulations and tech platform policies make it increasingly difficult to target consumers with paid media, the primacy of first-party data assets is clear, and email addresses sit at the top of the list.
As new marketing channels have risen in popularity and strategies around email marketing have evolved, there are several misconceptions making the rounds about email’s importance and effectiveness. In this article, we’ll break down seven of the most common misconceptions to explain why email marketing is a must for any small, medium or large business.
While some expected that contextual targeting on social media would bring about its demise, the email format has proven resilient. Why? Because an email address is the primary credential for consumers in the digital world.
Fact: Several factors are making email more relevant than ever for marketers, specifically:
These conditions have helped shift marketer sentiment toward email programs. Even though email has been around for decades, the way it’s used has evolved, and the best marketers have adapted their strategies to better meet today’s standards. Businesses rely heavily on email to usher consumers through various points on the purchase journey, including product discovery, the transaction itself, purchase confirmation, and order status.
Nearly 73% of marketing leaders surveyed in Q4 2020 (by the CMO Council) cited email at the top of a lengthy list of communication channels, including social media, web forms, online reviews, and personal interactions with sales and support staff.
While Facebook ads, Google ads, SEO practices, live webinars, and other tactics can be effective at bringing in new leads for your business, their usefulness in nurturing and converting leads is limited.
Fact: Email brings sales and creates long-term buying relationships
Ads cannot be used to nurture leads into customers, follow up with those customers to ensure their satisfaction, or offer an upsell. Without that kind of follow-up throughout the customer lifecycle, you’ve merely got a long list of leads, not a true marketing function that nurtures sales and creates long-lasting customer relationships that drive new business.
Email is what brings your leads to your web page where you make the conversion. It’s where you send sale confirmations and receipts. It’s where you offer and sell your products or send birthday or holiday promotions. It’s where you share your latest content updates or news. It’s where you ask your customers for feedback. It’s where you encourage customers to return to their online shopping cart after they’ve abandoned it. It’s where you re-engage them after they haven’t visited your website in months.
It’s true that people receive a lot of email, but that doesn’t mean those emails are unwanted. When was the last time you saw a spam message in your inbox? Email filters have become so intelligent that it’s highly likely that the emails in your inbox are oness you subscribed to at some point.
Fact: Email is the preferred communication method for most consumers
When someone subscribes to receive your emails, they’re giving you permission to fill their inbox; they’re signaling that they’re interested in your company and open to hearing from you. The idea that your contacts don’t want you to email them is completely invalid—if they didn’t want your emails, they wouldn’t have opted in to your list.
Email is also far less intrusive than many other forms of marketing. People choose to check their email on their own schedule, and they can choose whether or not to open the email, as opposed to things like digital pop-up ads that disrupt a person’s online experience, or even social media ads that intrude on their personal feeds. When contacts give you their email addresses, they expect that you’ll respect their time and their inbox space. Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: Only email if you’re adding value and have a clear purpose—and make sure your emails ares so compelling people can’t wait to open them.
According to the eMarketers study Canada Email Commerce 2021, two primary email marketing trends emerged in 2021:
Fact: Businesses have more control over email than any other channel
On numerous occasions, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have changed their algorithms, which determine how often and to which people your ads are shown, and they don’t seem likely to stop this practice. Social networks aim to limit the possibility of people leaving their ecosystem.
On the other hand, your email list is yours. You can control when emails are sent—down to the exact day and time—and designate specifically which people will receive certain emails. In fact, 90% of emails reach the consumer’s inbox, but only 2% of Facebook followers see a business’s posts in their news feeds.
“They said social media was going to kill email,” said our own Jean-François Renaud, co-founder of Adviso. “But email is still the number one channel for driving results in campaigns—and ultimately for ROI.” In retail, as well as in other sectors where direct-to-consumer (D2C) selling is now the norm, email is the primary engagement vehicle and it’s driving secondary purchases. Brands deploy emails for everything from acquisition to shopping cart abandonment, from upsell and cross-sell to retargeting. In addition to driving these lower-funnel actions, many brands are using email for brand messaging and awareness. Email’s a great channel to keep brands top of mind.
When email marketing is executed correctly, it can have a higher ROI than other direct marketing channels. Acording to a recent Litmus study, for every $1 spent on email marketing, and estimated $36 can be expected in return. The report from Litmus further broke down the ROI of email marketing by industry:
It’s clear that email marketing holds to (or even exceeds) its average ROI of 42:1 when analyzed across specific industries.
Fact: Email provides more insight on people than other channels
When you sign up for Facebook, or any social media channel, or even any app or website, you typically use your email address to create the account. That means all the data those channels have about you is tied back to your email address.
Cross-functional marketing revolves around email. Your customers’ and prospects’ identities follow them all over the web. Email is the heart of this targeting journey.
In other words, the Facebook Custom Audiences you create to ensure you’re showing Facebook ads to people in your target market are only made possible because Facebook tracks users’ web browsing history and ties that data to individual people based on their email address.
Email addresses are the core unit of analysis for identifying customers. Email addresses are also more reliable than other forms of identification, such as using browser cookie data to track visitors, since cookies can be cleared and blocked, and you can’t track across different devices such as personal computers, tablets, and smartphones. Email addresses, on the other hand, consolidate traffic across all devices.
Marketing automation treats email as the basic unit of analysis, no matter what platform you’re using to target your audience. Plus, people keep their email addresses for years, meaning your email database will have a long, reliable shelf life no matter what channels you use for marketing.
Fact: Email can be hyper-segmented and personalized with the right marketing automation and CRM platform
One form of email marketing is dead, and it’s the old “batch and blast” mass emailing approach. Today, that’s called spamming, and it’s been replaced with some extremely sophisticated opportunities for personalizing emails to each individual on your list.
With email, you can get far more targeted and personal than with other channels. If your email automation platform is integrated with your CRM, you have a stockpile of data about all your contacts, such as which of your products and services they’re interested in or have purchased, which of your landing pages they’ve visited, what ads they’ve clicked on, and their demographic information. All of that information can be used to ensure you’re sending the right email message to the right person at the right time.
There’s no doubt email is not only a foundational necessity in marketing and in business, but also a driver of results far beyond the capabilities of any other channel.
As we come to the end of 2021, a year marked by economic recovery, we don’t know if marketers are ready yet for a cookie-less world, since they’ve been preoccupied with resuming their lead generation after COVID-19. “In a cookie-less world, you end up having to use additional data sets to compensate for the lack of ability to digitally follow the consumer,” stated Roger Kamena, Vice-President Analytics and Data Science at Adviso.
Paid media has been a key part of that recovery, but once the cookie-less world begins, you won’t be able to track that spend as well as you could before. We highly suggest beginning to reinvest in first-party data programs, especially email. We believe that businesses need to pair external data sets with email data, texts, and geospatial inputs (information that describes an event with a location) to become more surgical in the way they identify and engage consumers.