If you’ve been paying attention to online marketing, you’ve probably heard this before. This strategy or that strategy is dead! Flee from it before your business tanks! While strategies do come and go, most of these complaints are unfounded.
This time around, email marketing is getting the treatment. People are saying that Gen-Z isn’t paying attention to your emails anymore, so why bother sending them? You should put all of your time into social media presence: Facebook, Instagram, or another platform instead of SEO, email marketing, or blog posting, or whatever some marketing guru says at the time.
Then you’ll read another article which says that email marketing tactic is quite alive and well, that it’s the best thing since finding your long-lost brother, and that you should double down on all of your efforts.
This is confusing. How can we settle this? Can you still rely on email marketing as a strategy for 2019, or is it just a waste of your hard-earned money? Let’s see if email marketing still works.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is the oldest form of internet marketing. This is already a sign of its strength. Tactics come and go but email has remarkable staying power. Email marketing involves sending targeted emails to people for the purpose of furthering a sales or marketing goal. It is designed to build trust, encourage sales, or promote brand awareness.
What makes it different than email spam? Legitimate email marketing only targets people who have opted-in to receive your marketing messages. This is why it is such a powerful technique. Any lead you get in your email list is at least a little warm. That’s why the open rate and conversion rate of email marketing is so high.
How does email marketing work?
The basics of email marketing are simple. The first step is to convince people to opt-in to receive your marketing messages. This is crucial not just for good sales but for legal reasons as well. By obtaining permission from your leads to receive messages from you, you can legally market to them through email.
Businesses then send emails to their leads to progress their sales and marketing goals. An email could be promotional, a straight sales letter, a newsletter, a useful article, or even an email related to a previous order that didn’t complete. It all depends on the overall goal of your campaigns.
To simplify this process, programs called autoresponders send out emails to everyone on your list on a predefined schedule. You can set up multiple campaigns through these programs to nurture leads at different stages of the funnel. Many autoresponders also have lead scoring features that help you learn whether a lead is ready for contact with sales or not. Two popular autoresponder systems are MailChimp and Constant Contact.
If all goes well, the lead will open your email, read the message, and do whatever conversion activity you’re hoping for, like making a purchase, giving you more information, or simply keeping your brand in their mind.
Here’s an example of an email marketing funnel. You have a webinar meant to attract your ideal clients. In order to see the webinar, leads have to give you their email address and opt-in to your mailing list. At the end of the webinar is an upsell offer.
After watching the webinar, your autoresponder sends out a series of messages over the next week or so that talks about the webinar topics in more detail and encourages them to take advantage of the upsell. Even if they do not take advantage of the upsell, your messages give your brand more exposure to your leads.
Email Marketing Statistics
Despite the doom and gloom about how younger generations aren’t opening emails, the statistics say that email marketing is still a very smart strategy, especially for B2B marketers. Here are some facts from various sources gathered by Hubspot:
● 83% of B2B companies use e-newsletters as part of their content marketing program, and 40% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are critical to their success.
● 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email.
● More than 50% of people check their email more than ten times a day, and 99% at least once.
● 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI.
This does not sound like a dying form of marketing! People would have to stop using email entirely for this technique to fail. A social media platform might not last, but email is a fundamental part of the internet.
Is it still a good strategy to follow?
Consumers, brands, and legislators have come to a broad agreement on what constitutes good email marketing practices. So long as you follow the rules for email marketing, failure and success are a matter of how well your emails are written and how tempting your offer is, rather than a problem with the strategy.
But let’s address the Inc. article we linked to at the top of the post. Gen-Z workers seem to be eschewing email in favor of chat-based and mobile-based solutions. Could this kill email marketing? We think not. 46% of opened emails are opened through a mobile device. Furthermore, emails with emojis in the subject line also get a high open rate. Those little icons are quite popular with both Gen-Z and millennials.
An email address is still a fundamental marker of your online reputation, necessary to sign up for all sorts of things. Even if you’re using Google or Facebook as your sign-in, they still either give you an email address or require you to have one to sign up. So long as this is true, everyone is going to have an email box.
Indeed, our email addresses are one of the few places online that are wholly ours. We have the power to unsubscribe from any list we sign up for, and spam filters have gotten extremely good for those “marketers” still sending out unsolicited email. Giving an email address is an act of trust, and so long as marketers do not abuse that trust then email marketing will work.
Email is here to stay. So what do you need to do to get the most out of it? Here are some best practices:
Depending on the laws of your country and the laws where your leads preside, there are rules you have to follow regarding signing people up to your list and what you can do with their data.
For North America, the most important rules are that the lead must opt-in for your list in some way and that you must provide a method to unsubscribe from your list in your emails. This is usually done through a small link at the bottom that takes the lead to your autoresponder to confirm they want to leave.
An autoresponder company will help keep you in compliance, but if you choose not to use one then you’ll need to brush up on the rules.
Know the Metrics
There are a few fundamental metrics you need to know for successful email marketing. They are:
- The open rate, which is the ratio of how many emails you sent vs how many were opened.
- The clickthrough rate, which measures the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email to continue through the funnel.
- The conversion rate, which is the percentage of people who followed through what your email offered all the way to the end.
The link on conversion and open rates earlier in the article will give you good target numbers to shoot for. If you’re new to digital marketing and wonder if those conversion rates are so low, try comparing them to the conversion rates of other digital marketing techniques. You’ll see that email is one of the most powerful marketing forms out there!
Confirm Valid Email Addresses
Email addresses come and go. If you do not verify the emails and clean invalid ones from your lists it will throw off your metrics. There are tools that can go through your email list to discover which ones are still valid. Your autoresponder may have such a tool built-in.
Respect The Reader
Your emails should provide some sort of value to the reader. Emails that read like spam or have poor grammar and spelling don’t respect the reader’s time. Put some care into your emails. Use A/B testing to see which subject lines and body formats work best with your audience.
When you write your emails, consider how you can make your email more than just an ad. We all see tons of ads every day. How could you provide value to your readers so they want to read what you have to say? Could you make them look forward to a message from you? It is possible!
Email marketing is still one of the best marketing tactics and it should not be ignored by any company. Email is incredibly useful for promotion, lead nurturing, and sales. It has a low cost and a high acceptability rate from consumers. Most businesses prefer to use email for formal communications, at the very least for a paper trail. So long as email remains a core part of our online lives, email marketing is here to stay.