Is Email Marketing Effective?

Melanie Balke
April 1, 2022

It seems like every couple of years, some “expert” declares that email marketing is dead. Whether Google Ads or social media is the cause, someone is always ready to claim its demise is just around the corner.

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I’m here to say the opposite. Email marketing is far from dead. In fact, email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels that small business owners can use. Well-developed email marketing strategies are a cost-effective way to attract new customers and garner new sales.

Don’t believe me?

That’s okay! As a digital marketing expert, it’s our jobs to be skeptical. We need to rely on data rather than gut feelings. Fortunately, the data also shows that email marketing still dominates the industry.

What Is Email Marketing?

Before I get ahead of myself, let me start with the basics.

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Email marketing is a small business’ best friend. It’s a way to send promotional messages to many people at once. In fact, many of the platforms and frameworks that allow businesses to send emails come pre-packaged with dozens of tools to amplify and refine your marketing strategy.

(One of my favorite email service providers is Klaviyo, but that’s a topic for a different post!)

Who Benefits From Email Marketing?

In 2019, there were an estimated 3.8 billion email users. That number has only grown, and consumers are consistently demonstrating that this medium is one of the most popular communication methods.

For small businesses, — particularly e-commerce brands — this is a gigantic amount of potential. Each of these billions of email users is a potential customer, and skilled marketers are able and willing to create email marketing campaigns that truly harness the full potential of the medium.

A shareable graphic with a colorized photo of a cash register. Overlaid header text reads, “Email Marketing: Who Benefits?” Beneath this is smaller body text, reading, “Even though it has an ROI of 4,400%, only 66% of all businesses are taking full advantage of email marketing. You can become part of that 66%, though!”

Here’s the problem, though…

Only 66% of all businesses are actually using this amazing digital marketing strategy.

What Are the Benefits of Email Marketing?

Hopefully, you’re thinking to yourself, “I want to be part of the 66% small business owners taking advantage of email marketing!” That is, after all, one of the reasons I’m making this blog post! I’m here to make sure every small business has a chance to thrive, and one of the best ways to achieve great things is by taking advantage of email marketing.

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Build a Better Foundation and Nurture Leads

First and foremost, emails generate leads.

Your product can be the best thing ever, but you’re not going to make much progress without customers. Small businesses are constantly looking for ways to raise brand awareness, and email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to do so.

Attract Traffic With Cost-Effective Marketing Efforts

Did you know what every dollar spent on email marketing generates an average of $44 in revenue? That’s an amazing ROI of 4,400%!

Let me break it down even more.

For businesses of any size, email marketing is one of the smallest expenses on their monthly bill. Even a budget of as little as $9 per month can yield impressive results. In the digital marketing landscape, emails remain some of the lowest risk ventures, yet they continually yield the highest rewards.

A shareable graphic with a colorized image of a bank vault. Overlaid text reads, “Low Cost, High Impact. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach your target audience!”

In many cases, small businesses will opt to employ an agency to handle their email marketing. This is a perfectly reasonable approach, but it’s not always the most effective. When you’re looking for a way to amplify your marketing strategies, I will always recommend finding a specialized email marketing agency.

Keep Your Customers Engaged

If you want to see your business grow, you’ll need to do some detective work.

It’s not enough to reach customers. You also need to retain customers! In order to do this, you need to think outside of the sales funnel, and email marketing has an uncanny ability to make subscribers feel like they’re part of a family.

A stellar marketing strategy will have a positive impact on everyone involved. Businesses get to learn more about their customers, and consumers are given access to deals and updates.

Boost Your Customers’ Lifetime Value

There are plenty of ways that email marketing impacts your overall revenue.

One of the most obvious and upfront impacts is spending. Sure, there are plenty of other channels, but few are as lucrative as the humble email. These messages are capable of drawing more traffic, raking in more sales, and even boosting the amount that customers spend in a single shopping session. Amazing email marketing campaigns are capable of delivering targeted, relevant content to potential customers, which gives small business owners more control over their message.

How Does Email Marketing Compare With Other Marketing Channels?

So, with all of these benefits, how does email marketing shake out when you compare it to another marketing channel? Namely, how does it stack up against its biggest competitor, social media marketing?

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Both Channels Have Plenty of Users

There’s no way to argue that social media platforms are unpopular. Over half of the entire human population is now engaged on one social media platform or another. That shakes out to over 4.5 billion social media users, which is a massive amount of potential customers.

Both Channels Can Reach Mobile Devices

In addition to a wide appeal, both social media and email marketing are capable of reaching mobile devices. This may seem like more information, — a fact that doesn’t really apply to your small business — but a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center showed that 15% of American consumers only use their smartphones to access the internet.

If you’re one of the millions of small business owners in America and your marketing efforts don’t offer a way for users to interact with you on other platforms, you’re automatically limiting yourself to only 85% of the population. Fortunately, both social media posts and email messages are capable of reaching mobile devices.

This, however, is where the two channels diverge…

More People Engage With Emails

On social media platforms, only 0.6% of all users engage with posts. That’s not the statistic for advertisements or promoted articles, that’s the overall engagement rate for all posts. 99.4% of all social media users will see your advertisement and ignore it.

Meanwhile, 22.81% of all emails will be opened, and 3.7% of these subscribers will move further down the sales funnel.

More Subscribers Will See Your Emails

Let me be honest…

Social media platforms are not the most effective marketing strategy. The main benefit of these outlets are brand awareness, and that won’t help you when you have bills to pay! You need a marketing channel that yields consistent results and reaches the most people.

That’s email marketing.

85% of all email marketing messages reach their target audience. That’s a massive percentage, and it’s all thanks to the immense framework of segmentation that marketers use to ensure your messages reach the right inbox.

Emails Make Customers Spend More

What about spending?

In the battle between email and social media marketing, email is — once again — the clear winner. Targeted emails generate three times more in sales than similar social media posts. That’s a lot of potential profit, and the gains only increase as you gain more subscribers.

It’s a Matter of Preference

Ultimately, subscribers are more receptive to email marketing.

There are plenty of reasons why, but I don’t have the time to explain all of it.

What I will say is that statistics are consistently showing that customers would rather receive marketing information via email. It’s a longstanding and convenient communication method, and its ubiquity has endeared it to the vast majority of the world’s population. Regardless of what your campaign might look like, it simply isn’t catering to the public if it has no room for emails.

Essential Tools for Email Marketers

Now that I’ve explained what email marketing is and how it can help your small business, it’s time to examine how you can actually start to build your own email marketing strategy!

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If you want to make truly effective email campaigns, then you’ll want to think of email marketing as a recipe. Before you can start making your delicious marketing meal, you need to get the appropriate supplies.

The Email List

No list of the best tips for marketers would be complete without mentioning the importance of subscribers. This is where your email marketing journey starts, and it’s where you begin to build your target audience.

There are many ways for businesses to gather email contacts, and one of the most common approaches is an embedded contact form on the company’s website.

At some point, you may be tempted to grow your audience by using purchased lists. Do not do this! There are a few reasons for this, and I will admit that I’m personally opposed to the practice. However, at the end of the day, email marketing statistics are what really matter, and they show that consumers hate receiving messages from unknown senders. By using purchased lists, you’re immediately associating your company name with a business practice, which is the opposite of helping your business grow.

An Email Service Provider

Once you have a list of subscribers you can send emails to, you’re ready to dive into the technical side of email marketing. You need a way to make sure your message will end up in an inbox, and you need to have tools to measure campaign performance.

What you’re looking for is an email service provider. (In the industry, we also refer to these as an ESP!) These are absolutely essential to running any email marketing campaign, and no amount of email marketing tips and fancy tricks will replace the functional utility of a solid ESP.

With a good ESP, a business gains access to all of its key performance indicators, — such as click-through rates — which marketers use to refine and improve future emails. It will also be able to use marketing automation tools, which dramatically decrease the amount of work required to run effective email marketing campaigns.

Goals and Aspirations

Here’s where things sometimes start to fall apart.

Though resource-intensive, the process of finding an ESP and acquiring a decent list of email contacts is fairly easy. A little bit of clever thinking can easily net a business plenty of interested leads, but how do you reach them?

You need a strategy, and every strategy begins with a goal. Think of it as your campaign’s subject line. This is the affirmative mantra of your marketing efforts.

When you’re first starting off, you’ll want to compare your performance to the industry standard. Know what is and is not a realistic goal, and avoid setting impossible-to-reach aspirations.

In more practical terms: nobody will ever have a 100% click-through rate, and setting that as a goal is setting yourself and your team up for failure. Instead, look at what the click-through rates are for your field and try to meet or beat them.

A Solid Email Marketing Strategy

Keep in mind that the goal is just one part of the process. Email marketing still needs to have a solid and fleshed-out strategy, and much of this will fall upon the shoulders of the design and copywriting teams.

A shareable graphic with a colorized photo of someone writing in a notebook. Overlaid text reads, “Trying to copy another company’s campaign will never yield the type of results that you need. Good email marketing needs to be innovative, unique, and built to cater to your target audience, not someone else’s.”

Now, when small business owners begin to formulate their strategy, it’s easy for them to focus on a single variable. Too many business owners see another’s company’s effective email marketing campaign and try to emulate them. That’s not going to help you!

Instead, you need to look at your current buyers and consider what they like. They are your target audience. They’re your base, and you want to make your subscribers feel included and appreciated.

One of the most effective ways to build worthwhile email marketing strategies is to utilize A/B testing. However, if you’re one of the millions of small business owners of the world, you may not be able to properly perform these tests.

That brings me to one of the best tips that I can give an aspiring business owner…

If you’re ever in doubt about your email marketing, reach out to an email marketing agency. You’ll be able to access all of the information, tools, and data you need to make our business grow, and you can take “email marketing” off of your regular to-do list.

Email Marketing Tips From an Expert

The TL;DR is that email marketing still resigns supreme. There is still plenty of momentum left in the industry, and just a few quick tweaks can truly optimize your email marketing efforts. When clients ask me for advice, I’m always happy to help, and I want to share those tips with you.

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Always Deliver Value

While email marketing remains a dominant force in the digital marketing field, running a proper campaign relies upon skill and planning. In order to drive traffic to your website, you need to make sure people open your message.

To do this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re delivering consistent value. You want your email marketing to stand out in each subscriber’s inbox, and you certainly don’t want to see too many subscribers clicking that “opt out” link!

Keep Subscribers Engaged

One of the best ways to deliver value is to keep your subscribers engaged. In other words, you want your marketing efforts to yield high click-through-rates.

I’ve spoken before about using targeted emails to generate more sales, but that isn’t the point of this post. Trying to explain all of the ways to boost your engagement is, frankly, a lengthy process, and I simply don’t have enough space to do it! So, instead, I’ll move on to my next tip, which is…

Provide a Steady Stream of Content

To attract traffic to your website, you’ll want to make sure your email marketing campaigns are spread out well.

Think about it this way: as a consumer, are you more likely to remember a brand you see once a month or once every week?

Exposure is brand awareness, and drip marketing is one of the best ways to harness email marketing’s full potential. This strategy relies upon providing a steady stream of relevant content to your target audience. Over time, these targeted emails — with their punchy subject lines and valuable deals — will hopefully endear email users to your brand.

Email Marketing Still Works!

How much more can I say about email marketing?

If you still think that this marketing channel is dead, I don’t think I’ll be changing your mind any time soon! At the end of the day, the subject line of this blog post is simple: email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach a massive audience.

A black-and-white photo of Los Angeles. Overlaid text reads, “Email Marketing Still Works!”

How to Optimize Your Email Marketing Strategies

It takes more than a few interesting subject lines, though. If you really want to succeed, you need help. To truly harness the power of this cost-effective channel, you’ll want to invest in some professional advice.

That’s why I’m here! If you’re still a bit confused about all of this email marketing stuff, don’t be afraid to reach out to me! And, while you’re here, be sure to drop by my blog, where I’m constantly posting tips and tricks for aspiring marketers.