The title of this blog post is something I want to scream from the rooftops about once a week. Email marketing has been around since 1978. The first email was sent in 1971, which means we got a nice, quiet period of about seven years before advertisements started creeping into our virtual inboxes.
I actually wasn’t going to start this post with a history lesson, but this is kind of amazing. Gary Thuerk was the name of the guy who sent that first marketing campaign, and it reached around 400 users. From that one email, he ended up making $13 million in sales. I can’t find anything that says whether that figure has been adjusted for inflation or not, but either way, holy crap.
Anyway, since 1978, email marketing has been a part of our lives, and it’s a near-constant part now since the Internet is basically everywhere. It’s something I deal with every day, and not just for my job. When I get up in the morning, I check my email. When I’m looking for a deal on a website I frequent, I check my email. I even go through the spam folder sometimes, and it’s not pretty in there.
Over the course of those last 40 or so years, the basic framework of email hasn’t changed all that much. But email marketing? That’s a different story. Today I want to take a look at not only the current state of email marketing but explore where it could go as this thriving market approaches its next exciting frontier: verbMAIL.
A Numbers Game
Do you want to know something strange? I can’t actually find many reliable sources that say email marketing is dead or even dying. It’s like an urban legend; everyone’s heard the story, but there aren’t many facts to back it up. I spent a decent chunk of my morning looking for anything reputable so I’d know what kind of arguments I’d be up against, but instead, I kept finding articles insisting that email marketing isn’t dead.
So where did that stance even come from? The only thing I can think of is the rise of things like social media, and email service providers cracking down on spam and other unwanted emails over the last few years. That’s actually good news for us though, because what’s the one thing people need in order to use social media? An email address, so our list of possible recipients is actually growing as social networks grow. And having less spam in their inbox means there’s more room for companies they actually want to hear from to keep in touch with them.
At this point, I think questions could come up about targeted ads, the ability to reach people that you don’t have direct contact information for, etc. I’ll cover those points in a little bit, but I still don’t see how that raises any concerns about email. We’re just talking about two different approaches to marketing, and while both definitely have their uses, today we’re focusing specifically on email, so let’s take a look at some numbers!
What’s your potential audience in the email market? Basically over half the global population. There are over 4 billion daily email users, with an average open rate of about 20%, which leads to an average ROI of $38-$42 for every $1 spent. Sources vary a bit on the exact dollar amount, but either way, it’s enough to make your jaw drop.
Honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re as interested as I am in the statistics of email in 2021, this article goes into way more detail and covers a wider variety of topics like email demographics, mobile marketing statistics, and a few more best practices you should keep in mind.
Pros and Cons
mail marketing definitely has its pros and cons, just like any other marketing strategy. I’d like to talk about those a little bit, but keep in mind that the best part about email marketing is that you’re in full control of the content and distribution. Which means that even the biggest disadvantages with email can be overcome with the right strategy, and I’ll talk about a couple of my favorites down below.
The biggest difference I can see between social media and email marketing is that social media wants you to see ads, and email providers don’t. So while you can basically throw money at a social media provider to get your ad listed, email is something else entirely. If you want your email to be seen, you have to earn the attention of your customers, you can’t just pay for it.
Email is always evolving, and marketers are guilty until proven innocent. So you have to put extra work in, ensure that your email content follows ever-changing guidelines, verify your company so they know you’re really who you say you are, and prove that the customers you’re trying to contact what to hear from you, all so you’re not marked as spam or worse, blacklisted. But as you can see from the numbers above, it’s so worth the time and effort it takes to do email marketing right.
In an ideal world, email marketing would be like walking into an old-fashioned mom-and-pop shop. They know you because you’re a regular customer, so every time you hear from them there’s a little personal touch to your experience. This is nice because other types of digital marketing make me feel like I’m reading a billboard on Times Square. I’m one in a million people and I’ll never be individually recognized by that company. And while it’s not exactly ideal, living in the age of the Internet means I can receive 500 emails from mom and pop shops on any given day, email does allow you to be more personal with your customers. You can market based on order history, add their name to a campaign, or actually give them a special offer not seen by everyone. It’s more personal, versatile, and much better at creating customer loyalty.
Speaking of creating a personal relationship with your customers, you can enhance that mom-and-pop shop feel I was talking about by including video. In fact, you can combine that feeling with the latest and greatest technology out there by utilizing interactive video. Suddenly, your consumers just aren’t reading a billboard or an ad in their inbox, but hearing directly from you. As we’ve seen above, not only do consumers prefer video content over text, but it also increases their chances of actually making a purchase. And what better way to convince them than to include a single button on the video they can click to place their order right away? It’s the easiest thing in the world, and you put your company at the forefront of marketing technology, with all the data and statistics from your user’s interactions available instantly.
But while it’s much easier to post an ad on social media than research and labor over email marketing campaigns or creating video content, I think the reason it’s worth it is that you’re in complete control. You might have to jump through a few hoops to get that email into your customer’s inbox consistently, but at least you’re in the game every time you hit the send button. I want to touch on social media marketing for a second because social media algorithms honestly freak me out a little. Since they’re entirely under the control of the parent company, how much of your audience is actually seeing your content? If it’s an ad, money is a big deciding factor, but even your everyday posts might only be seen by as little as 2-5% of your audience in some cases.
The rules can change very quickly too, with almost no notice. In the world of email, there’s usually some time to prepare, like when GDPR was first approved back in 2016.
You Do You
There’s so much more to be said about the world of digital marketing, but at the end of the day, you're the one that has to decide how to market to your audience. I don't think there's an easy, one-size-fits-all solution out there. I think the real trick is to combine all the tools at your disposal. By marketing through email and incorporating video, you give yourself a better chance at gaining your customer’s loyalty and continued business. Want to increase those odds even more? Give interactive video a shot. As digital marketing continues to evolve, verbMAIL represents the most effective and innovative solution to marketing through video, and it really does show us that email marketing is not dead…it’s just getting started.
About the author:
Spencer Sandoval is a part of the Creative Team at Verb (and obviously, a huge Virtual Reality buff). As one of our Email Marketing and eCommerce professionals, he has a ton of experience working with the Magento and Zencart eCommerce platforms, as well as managing customer lists, creating segments, and getting e-blasts sent out on a weekly basis for a number of clients using the email marketing platforms Bronto and Email Direct.