When it comes to marketing, many people have opinions about the death or imminent death of an entire approach or tactic. But these opinions often miss the mark because they don’t consider evolution.
It’s true that overused methods, approaches, best practices, rules of thumb, etc. can die and go away if they are no longer effective (as they should), but that doesn’t mean an entire medium of communication goes along with them. If that were the case, you’d never see a print ad again — a marketing tactic that has seen many life cycles and changes to best practices.
Today, there are many articles that explain that, although it was once king, “email marketing is dead.” This “fact” has made its way into multiple blogs and social media feeds. But, as with many other things in life and marketing, the truth is that email marketing as a whole isn’t really dead. It has simply evolved.
102.6 trillion emails are sent every year and that number is expected to increase to 126.7 trillion by 2022. While ~74% of internet users use social media, 89.6% of people on the internet send an email at least once per month. And 59% of marketers say that email marketing continues to generate the highest return on investment for their organization.
So, if email isn’t dead, then let’s look at some of the things you should keep in mind as you make email marketing an important part of your integrated marketing mix. Remember that we are talking about marketing emails, and not a sales strategy that includes emails — that has its own set of best practices and standards.
Sorry, Who Are You?
This one is really quite simple: Don’t send someone a marketing email or include them in a campaign if they’ve had no previous touch points with your brand or anyone from it.
There may have once been a time when every email someone received was special and they paid attention to it, regardless of who the “From” line displayed, but it isn’t now. We’ve all deleted that email that makes us think “how did I get on this list and who are these people?” There’s no reason your target market won’t do the same.
So, a list you’ve purchased, acquired from a colleague at a previous job or scraped the internet for, is not a “marketing contact list” — it’s just an unqualified database. Ideally, the marketing team acquires a marketing contact’s email (and additional information) from sales or as a result of other tactics.
Outbound In, Outbound Out
Inbound marketing may be over-talked at this point, but the basic premise of building content and experiences that attract and delight —rather than interrupt and annoy — leads and potential customers is a valid one.
Assuming you have a proper contact list, the last thing you want to do is send an email that is blatantly a sales pitch and an attempt to generate some immediate form of purchase action or interest. Marketing emails that you send to your contact list need to catch and keep the attention of your leads by being interesting and useful. A blog, a brief, and a case study are examples of the kind of thing that would be valuable to your contacts.
On the other hand, never-ending prompts to “talk to sales” will end up in the trash. The volume of traffic the average person sees in their inboxes every day means that people have less and less patience for general announcements, news, and sales lingo. People want to feel that a brand is interested in a conversation and engagement with them — a two-way street.
Yeah, But Who Cares?
First impressions matter.
If there’s one thing worse than a marketing email being uninteresting, it’s being irrelevant. The same irritation someone feels about everything from an ill-timed YouTube ad to a website pop-up can also be triggered by the wrong kind of email — “What good does this do me and why should I care?”
So, the time for the general “email blast” is over. The time for in-depth profiling and segmentation of lists to create targeted, personal experiences that appeal to an audience’s unique interests is here. As soon as your email hits an inbox, everything from the subject line and the preview text, down to the first few pixels that are visible when the email is opened, must be relevant to your audience.
This Looks Like Sh*t
A wall of text with no visual appeal is a complete waste of time for most readers.
The race for better looking emails started a while ago. We are already past the point where people started getting tired of even the most basic templates — they may be functional, but they’re overused and boring.
Obviously, the right content in an email is important. But, making sure that an email is designed to guide the eye through information with ease and encourage someone to engage with the call-to-action in the text is equally important. And, quite frankly, marketing emails should be just darn nice to look at. No one wants to look at a poorly designed email — not to mention that low-quality design reflects poorly on your brand.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Time goes by. Things become obsolete. But, well-crafted, strategic emails are still important to your marketing program. If used correctly, and if you keep up with trends and the evolution of people’s tastes and best practices, emails provide an effective tool for engaging contacts, getting them further interested in your brand, products, and solutions, and converting leads into customers.
 “Is Email Marketing Dead? Statistics Say Not A Chance”, OptinMonster, July 2019, https://optinmonster.com/is-email-marketing-dead-heres-what-the-statistics-show/
 “Email Usage Penetration in the United States from 2013 to 2019 (in millions)”, Statista, 2015 https://www.statista.com/statistics/462159/usa-email-usage-reach/
 “2018 Email Marketing Industry Report”, Campaign Monitor, 2018, https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/2018-email-marketing-industry-report/