This era of technological advancement has been accused of “killing” a lot of things. Airbnb is killing the hotel business, ride-sharing threatens the taxi-cab industry, and millennials have caused the death of all sorts of things.
Email marketing is dead…or is it?
The “death toll” of digital marketing channels continues to grow—but we can’t always believe the dramatic claims we hear.
After all, people have been saying SEO is dead for years. This argument is weak at best, especially when you consider Google, a company fueled by search traffic, has been on an upward trajectory for the last two decades.
Still, the tech obituary continues to announce new victims. One recent claim you may have heard: Email marketing is dead.
Today, we’re going to pivot away from this idea. Email marketing isn’t dead but it is changing. Email marketing is evolving, and as marketers, we have to evolve with it.
Why do people think email marketing is dead?
It all started with data.
Advertisers, marketers, and researchers have long been collecting data to learn about users. This knowledge is often used as a way of improving the customer experience. We’ve all been subject to unappealing or irrelevant advertisements. To have advertisements that actually appeal to us—well, this speaks volumes for the way data collection has grown and changed. Still, it would be silly to argue data collection is purely for the customer. At the end of the day, businesses need to make money. If we like the ads we see, that’s great for us. If we use them to purchase items, that’s even better for businesses.
Data got powerful.
As the years have passed, we’ve seen just how far data collection can go, for better and for worse. Just as we saw with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, data can be used for much more than research studies and targeted ads. Data can be used to categorize traits, manipulate users, and potentially influence elections.
It’s data’s endless possibilities that have weighed heavily on the EU since the 90s, inspiring the 1995 Data Protection Directive, and most recently, GDPR. (It’s worth noting that the beginnings of the GDPR movement began the same year Facebook was compromised.)
So, how is GDPR related to the death of email marketing?
At its core, GDPR called for a massive overhaul when it came to data collection. The purpose of this new set of regulations is simple: giving people greater control of their information.
In short, professionals who heavily relied on data collection, targeting users, and segmentation (e.g. email marketers), realized requirements were about to shift. In fact, email marketers had to deal with new opt-in permission rules, proof of consent storing systems, and the reality that consumers might ask to have their personal information removed.
Above is just one example from the thousands of GDPR emails that were delivered earlier this year. As you can see, subscribers were given the choice to continue receiving emails, or they could choose to opt out.
But GDPR hasn’t killed email marketing yet.
GDPR may be intimidating, but ultimately, it’s far from a death sentence, especially for email marketers who value quality user experience.
When it comes to growing a subscriber list organically and preventing churn, email marketers want users who are interested in marketing messages and personalized offers.
Users unsure about their subscription status, why they’re receiving emails, or how they got on the list—these are not typically indicative of quality subscribers or a well-executed email list.
In fact, if users feel that they can trust you and your brand, they will give you their information. Most consumers are willing to trade personal information for trustworthy benefits and valuable products.
Perhaps this is why email marketing is still more valuable than almost any other form of marketing—its success is largely based on trust and building relationships with clients.
Email marketing is doing better than ever before as an industry.
Email continues to be one of the worthiest investments businesses can make. In fact, 59% of marketers cite it as the top ROI-generating marketing method for their organizations. Perhaps this is why 25% percent of marketers sought to increase their spending on email marketing this year.
Email marketing is not just a boon for businesses, however. Email marketing is also a growing career opportunity. As of 2017, email marketing jobs were trending, making email marketing a worthy investment and a profession in high demand.
You can still reach more people through email.
Email is still a far more consistent way of getting in front of customers, especially if you set the correct expectations for your users.
People are willing to sign up for your subscriber list if they feel the content is relevant to their experience. Whether your newsletter offers promos, news, weekly recipes, or giveaways, setting up the correct expectations will attract users to subscribe to your list. By adding value to your content and your signup CTA, you can increase conversions by 14.9%.
Unlike ads, users have full control of their inbox, meaning they’re more likely to show interest in your email than they would in your banner ad or social media post.
And since 92% of online adults use email, email virtually guarantees eyes, whereas social media puts you at the mercy of the time of day, algorithms, and consistent user engagement.
More people use email than social media.
Marketers may claim email marketing is dead, but more people continue to use email over social media. In fact, only ~74% of internet users use social media, whereas 89.6% of internet users send an email at least once per month.
And even though many people still use social media, not everyone is utilizing the same platform. Instead of focusing your personalization tactics to specific platforms, you could be segmenting your emails based on user data. Since 51% of marketers consider email segmentation to be the most effective personalization tactic, focusing on social media alone may be a lost opportunity.
Plus, segmented email marketing campaigns boast 14.64% more email opens and nearly 60% more clicks. Just look at the use of personalization in the Google email below. This type of customization helps users prepare, which makes the email more relevant and valuable.
Most people expect and appreciate email marketing efforts.
We may traditionally consider advertisements to be a nuisance, but 28% of consumers want to receive promotional emails more than once a week.
Of the numerous people who subscribe to newsletters, 74% want a welcome email when they subscribe to a list. Even something as familiar as a birthday email can drive open rates and conversions.
In short, users may have more control when it comes to their information, but many consumers appreciate marketing efforts and even expect them.
Email marketing is a constant.
We’ve watched the fluctuation of technology trends, and in some cases, we’ve seen certain trends “die.” We’ve seen social media go from a niche interest to a global marketing platform.
Similarly, we’ve watched email addresses die out, and we’ve seen approaches to email marketing evolve. But through all of these changes, one tech has remained a constant: email. People still browse their inboxes for updates, subscribe to lists for news, and send emails to keep records.
Email still delivers a huge ROI, too—$44 for ever single dollar spent. This is much stronger than most forms of marketing, and it shows the constant and relevant nature of email marketing.
People may have more power over their information, but that doesn’t mean email marketing has lost its appeal. If anything, we as email marketers have an even greater opportunity to improve the lives of our subscribers. By listening to users, we can easily evolve with email marketing.