Email was one of the first forms of online marketing, but the internet has changed drastically from the 1990s through today. You might wonder if there is any reason to still send out emails when most people flock to social media on a daily basis.
Emails have a 4,400 percent return on investment (ROI) rate. Basically, for every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses see a $44 return.
So, in a nutshell, yes, email marketing is still relevant and likely will be for many years to come.
There are six key ways email marketing is still relevant today. Of course, as with any type of marketing, there are some tactics you should focus on and some you should avoid if you want to attract your audience rather than repel them.
1. Grab Attention
Emails still have the power to grab attention better than other online marketing tactics.
Consumers have gotten to the point that they all but ignore most pop-up ads and social media advertising that is obviously a sales pitch. Emails, however, are more personal and land in the user's inbox, where they stand out from other forms of advertising.
The tactics you utilize when sending your emails makes a difference in overall open rates. For example, a triggered email – the user did something to trigger the email being sent, such as signing up for a mailing list – has a 46.53 percent open rate, while a newsletter only has a 20.92 percent open rate.
2. Reach More People
Nearly anyone who is online has an email address. It's a way to sign up for social media, to stay in touch with favorite brands and get information. People sometimes even email reminders to themselves, so they access the information later. People are connected to their inboxes.
There are over 3.81 billion email users, which is about half of the world's population. Compare that to social media giant Facebook's 1.52 billion active users, and you see why email is the most effective way to reach nearly any demographic.
3. Retain Subscribers
Another advantage of email is that you have an opportunity to reach out to users directly and retain them on your list.
Social media sites often limit what content users see or force you to pay advertising fees to "boost" posts for your own followers see those posts. With email marketing, the list belongs to you, and you don't have to pay anyone extra to send a message out to your subscribers.
Of course, you want to make sure you only send out quality content and communications as needed. There is no reason to overwhelm your subscribers with constant emails.
4. Satisfy Mobile Users
Email open rates for mobile users is around 68 percent. However, the email must look right on a mobile device and be easy to scroll through.
Pay attention to the templates used when creating emails and make sure they look as good on a mobile device as they do on a PC. Use only optimized images and keep the layout simple. Most email creation programs allow you to view how the final version looks on different device types.
More than 40 percent of emails get opened via mobile devices, so you have an opportunity to engage a big portion of your audience and keep their attention.
5. Create Automated Journeys
Emails allow you to send out highly targeted campaigns that automate the buyer's journey through your site. They are particularly effective with ecommerce stores.
Imagine a scenario where you send out an email about the best earrings to wear to prom and then follow up with a few questions at the bottom of the email that allow the user to choose options, such as gold earrings or silver earrings.
You would then direct that user to a page on your website or send an automated response email that lists all the gold or silver earrings available for prom-goers.
6. Track Customer Actions
Email marketing gives you a direct line to customer actions. What elements in your emails are subscribers clicking on, and why do you think they are clicking on those elements?
For example, if you always add a list of clearance items and they rarely receive clicks, it might be time to reconsider the ways you present clearance items on your site.
Email also affords an opportunity for seeing which headlines work best with your target audience. Which subject lines have a higher open rate? How might this translate in other marketing?
However, Costs Add Up
Even though there are many valid reasons why emails are still highly relevant, the costs of maintaining an email list may be prohibitive to small businesses. Sites such as MailChimp offer a free platform until you hit a certain number of subscribers, and then you'll need to pay a monthly fee based on how many subscribers you have. As your list grows, so do your costs.
Business owners must compare the return on the investment and make sure their mailing list works for their needs and is worth the added expense.
Build a Relationship
While there are many reasons for embracing email marketing, keep in mind that users don't appreciate spam. You must develop a relationship with the user before they sign up for your list and then maintain that relationship over time.
Offering valuable, high-quality content is the first step, but you also should understand your audience and what they care about. With a little effort, emails work for you and help grow your brand.
Lexie Lu is a freelance graphic designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest design news and always has some coffee in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.