Email newsletters and ‘junk mail’ as it’s known often get a bad reputation. Despite all our best efforts, we just can’t seem to keep our inboxes clear, and a lot of people go out of their way to make sure to never hit the checkbox that signs them up to mailing lists. So with this in mind, is email marketing even useful anymore, or is the format on its last gasp? We’ve decided to balance some of the pros and cons of email marketing in today’s article.

Why Email Still Works

For companies with a large customer base or a continuing influx of new customers there is still arguably a lot of value to be gleaned from email marketing, especially using modern solutions and services to make sure what does get sent out is as professional and to the point as possible. As of now, many services exist online to customise and create mail and mailing lists, and this technological edge can make email marketing work a lot better. Marketers are still choosing email because of its high rate of engagement – the Content Marketing Institute still lists it as of extreme importance with over 90% of marketers still choosing email in a recent study.

Mailing lists are usually, if not always, opt-in, which gives the customer a choice to sign up or not. But what’s more important is the data generated earlier in the sign up process, especially for aspiring email marketers. The advantages of collecting this data means your mailing lists can be cut up into specific demographics and those demographics can be sent emails which are more relevant to them. Managing your data, targeting your audience, and making sure the content is appropriate – all are a key component of getting email right.

The rewards and benefits for a well made and well targeted email campaign are measurable in cash money spent on the campaign vs subscribers or customers brought in who spend money. This is the concept of ROI, return on investment, and interestingly this is where email marketing can stand out. It’s relatively cheap to implement, depending on your company size and customer volume, and the amount you can potentially get back is usually a lot more than you will spend. In some cases a ROI of over 3500% has been reported from successful email campaigns.

For example if 100 emails were sent out to a specific demographic, which costs your company a theoretical monthly subscription fee of £30 to an email marketing service, and then 3 customers respond and make a purchase valued at £100 or more each time, you can call this a ten times return on your monthly investment. It gets more complicated than this, but as long as your campaign is well targeted and well designed, you shouldn’t have a problem getting your money back and then some.

When Email Doesn’t Work

Unfortunately there are still a lot of times where email marketing doesn’t work – and most of this is due to the emails being sent out not being appropriate for the audience, being sent too much, or looking ‘spammy’ or suspicious to the consumer and being sent to the junk mail box. An email has a lot more shelf life than a Google or social media ad – staying in the inbox until buried, deleted or read – which means it has the potential to be opened as many times as the inbox is visited. However, a badly designed email marketing campaign could get deleted or marked as spam on the first time it comes into the inbox, meaning that for all intents and purposes that potential customer has blacklisted you. This is why using services designed to make your marketing campaigns more attractive is so important.

If enough money and time and effort and brain power isn’t spent on a campaign, it might as well go straight into the junk mail folder. Bad design can also mean poor optimization for mobile, as the largest majority of email users check their inbox via iOS. The worst examples of email marketing look no different from genuine spam, and this can be a real problem. If your email comes into the inbox resembling spam, and not a mailout from a responsible company the recipient has visited before, it can and will just be deleted. People are often very wary of phishing and other attempts to get them to click dubious links, so it’s important to study the differences between a good mailer and spam email.

Big Companies Still Use Email Marketing Today

Today a lot of large companies utilise email marketing and do it very well, and we’ll show an example below in just a second. But first it’s important to experience email marketing for yourself. Take five seconds to check your inbox, see if you’ve got any purely marketing mail, and click on the most prominent one. After you’ve clicked it, take five minutes to ponder why it was the most prominent and why you clicked it first. Was it the only unread mail? Was the title of the message a draw? Was it from a company you trust? Today over half of emails are classified as spam, so it’s hard to know whether what you’re getting is legitimate or not.

Our example of good campaigns we’re going to focus on comes from Uber Eats, who use periodical email marketing to entice customers into making purchases after they have signed up by sending out coupons for their service every so often. Coupons are only available via the email, linked to the users account, and can be used just once at a time. Driving repeat sales using coupons and offers is one of the places email marketing excels, because once a customer has registered on your website with their email and information you can target the best offers into their inbox.

Uber Eats has got this right by offering free delivery codes with most if not all emails, meaning that the customer will open emails from them every time expecting a discount. However, your company might not be able to offer repeated money off codes, but this strategy is worth noting down if you’re looking into expanding into email marketing.

How Will You Use Email?

As always we’re going to recap and condense some of the points here into a set of bullet points highlighting the steps you might take to improve or implement an email marketing campaign.

  • Study the market – check out good campaigns and how they work.
  • Sign up to a service – we’ve included several good ones above.
  • Define and research your demographics – who do you sell to the most?
  • Engage with repeat customers – create email offers or incentives for people to buy again.
  • Avoid looking spammy – compare your emails to spam and modify them if need be.
  • Find ways to stand out – make your headings professional, and trustworthy.