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Is email marketing dead? Think again!

Author: Anirban Chakraborty | Categories: Customer Engagement, Digital Marketing

According to the Harvard Business Review, for the past several years so-called “digital hipsters” claiming that email is dead. Well, with all due respect to those observers, I agree with the HBR that these rumors announcing email marketing is dying are dramatically exaggerated. In 2013, companies have spent up to 20% of their marketing budget on email marketing. In 2014, the budget dedicated to email is expected to keep growing by 10%. Further, a 2012 McKinsey report found that corporate workers spend nearly one-third of their time managing email. Here are some statistics on consumers and email:

  • You essentially can’t sign up for anything online without an email address
  • There will be around 236.8 million U.S. email users by 2017
  • 91% of consumers check their email at least daily
  • 74% of online adults prefer email over direct mail for commercial communications
  • 66% online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email

If that’s not enough, here are some statistics on email for marketing:

  • Marketers return an estimated $44.25 is for every $1 they invest on email marketing
  • 60% of Marketers believe email is an ROI-producing activity
  • Email marketing’s ROI is 4,300%
  • 80% Content marketers use email marketing

Very Simply: Email Drives Sales

Why is email still a critical channel for marketers? It delivers. As you can see in the statistics above, most marketers believe email marketing efforts yield significant positive impact on their entire sales cycle, from lead generation to conversion, and beyond. Even more statistics points to the fact that email marketing plays an important role throughout all stages of your sales funnel.

  • In 2012, almost half of email recipients (44%) made at least one purchase decision based on a promotional email.
  • 40% of B2B marketers rated lead generated by email marketing as high quality.

More Engagement = More Revenue

“Email marketing is evolving faster than ever expected. This means, in 2014 email marketing will simply get better, driving more engagement and increasing revenues for savvy marketers who really understand the benefits of detailed list segmentation and the delivery of truly optimized, timely content.” – John Hayes, author of A Crash Course in Email Marketing As John Haynes explains, rather than dying, email is transforming. New technology means that we are heading in the direction of hyper-targeted emails and smart automation. What we do expect to die are companies that stick with the ‘spray-and-pray’ mentality of email marketing will look like dinosaurs of the email marketing world, and their engagement metrics are going to reflect it, an opinion supported by Harry Kaplowitz a Vocus deliverability product manager.

Doing Email the Right Way

Here’s the problem with email – with new CAN-SPAM compliance and new blocking technologies such as the Gmail tabs, many emails aren’t reaching their intended destination. According to Return Path, 18% of permission-based email in North America never reaches the inbox, with 5% classified as spam and 13% simply go missing. Given that, I put together a few tips that will ensure deliverability, higher open rates and ultimately drive engagement:

1. Get your Subject line right. A great subject line is the best way to boost your email open rates, with 64% of people saying they open an email because of the subject line. Here are some important insights to keep in mind while creating your email subject line:

  • Subject lines fewer than 10 characters long had an open rate of 58%
  • Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened, and including the company name in the subject line can increase open rates by 32% – 60% over a subject line without any branding.
  • The top three types of subject lines that drive subscribers to open emails contain one of the following:
    • discount offer
    • free product offer
    • familiar brand name
    • What words to include:
      • For B2B companies, subject lines that contained “money,” “revenue,” and “profit” performed the best
      • Using “Alert” or “News” or “Bulletin” in subject lines significantly boosts open and click-through rates
      • Using “Daily” or “Weekly” in subject lines boosts open and click-through rates whereas “Monthly” hurts open rates and CTRs
      • Using the words “Sale” or “New” or “Video” in subject lines boost open and click-through rates

2. Make your emails more social Social media is a critical tool to magnify your email effectiveness. In fact, emails that include social sharing buttons have a 158% higher click through rate. Here are some tips to maximize your marketing efforts by combining email and social media together:

  • Make sure to have an HTML webpage version of your email: To enable your email content to get be shared via social networks, you’ll need to create a static HTML webpage version of the email.
  • Code social sharing links directly into your webpage email version: Code the sharing buttons or links within your email to allow this posts the webpage directly.
  • Offer an incentive for joining social networks: Be sure to offer your readers content or offer incentives to like, follow or add your company.
  • Test the placement of your social buttons and links: Test various placements for your social join or share buttons and links in your emails in order to find the right placement and balance for you.
  • Augment Buttons with Links: Remember that while buttons are the common way to denote a social network share or add on a web page, graphics and images may not appear in your email templates. Make sure there is always a corresponding text link.
  • Provide Social URLS: Subscribers may read your emails at locations where social networks are blocked (such as at work). Be sure to provide your social URLS within the body of the email as well for them to remember later.

Get the timing right: Timing is critical to your email marketing success, given below are some important insights:

  • 23.63% of Emails are opened within an hour of being received
  • More people open email during the day than at night
  • More emails are sent during the week than on weekends, with Tuesday and Thursday being the highest volume days. Changing which day you send your emails may improve your open and click rates
  • 2-5pm is the time of day when most emails are opened
  • 10pm-9am is the worst time to send emails
  • Be sure to stay away from the lunch hour.
  • In fact, the best time to email is on Tuesday at 10:13 am

Best utilize the visual appeal Visuals can make email content more appealing and relevant. One in two marketers uses animated gifs in their email campaigns. “On desktops and tablets, at least: Email will become more interactive — taking on the look and feel of a kind of micro-site, with video and other interactive elements.” (Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs) But at the same time, text email makes a comeback, fueled by small screens on mobile devices and smaller smartphone data allowances. Also, text emails have a more personal feel — as opposed to graphics-heavy emails, which feel like mass-produced marketing. The smartest marketers will use text to communicate when they are looking to convey a more personal feel.

Some more interesting fact every marketer needs to know about email marketing

  • 17 – 22 point is the recommend range of font sizes for mobile emails
  • 46 px is the recommended minimum size for buttons in mobile emails
  • 18.3 kilobytes is the Size of average email
  • 0.25% is the average unsubscribe rate
  • 82% consumers have signed up for email programs on brand websites
  • 14.5% of consumers have signed up for an email program via text message
  • 72% of consumers sign up for emails to get discounts
  • 74.4% of consumers expect a welcome email when they subscribe
  • 35.4% of consumers unsubscribe from emails because they are sent too frequently
  • 60% of B2B marketers have used video in their emails
  • Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media

What do you think about it? Should businesses invest their resources into email marketing, or is it following the Yellow Pages to near extinction?