When an email open rate of 20% is something to celebrate, then there is plenty of room for improvement. We have all heard the email ‘death knell’ at some point in our careers, and it’s true that using email for personal communication is decreasing. That doesn’t mean that marketing should abandon ship just yet.

People are not only happy to receive a brand’s email in their inbox, they are growing increasingly comfortable with buying from emails as well.

Custora E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot, Q2 2013
Image from Custora E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot, Q2 2013

In 2013, Custora released their ‘E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot’ which showed that customer acquisition via email had quadrupled over the last 4 years, from 0.88% in 2008, to 6.84%. Custora concluded that “an increasing number of retailers are building communities and collecting email addresses, then converting those ‘members’ into customers.”

Why Might People Prefer Email Marketing?

Why do people prefer email for business communications? Bryan Wade, SVP of Content Marketing at ExactTarget had several answers to this question.

  • Firstly, “consumers prefer email marketing because they are in control and they trust brands to respect their preferences.”
    There are numerous spam laws in place, like the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, to help protect people from unsolicited messages from unknown senders.
  • Reading the headline is a low-cost decision for the email recipient – which gives them control over whether to ignore individual emails without having to unsubscribe.
  • Social media is much less actionable given the shorter form of communication, poor ability to segment messages, and more personal nature.

That last point should be particularly salient to email marketers. Wade points out that “it’s highly measurable… Plus, ROI for email marketing happens to be the highest of all marketing channels, and consumers actually convert.”

The Future of Email Marketing

Email

All we know for sure is that the number of email accounts in the world will continue to rise. There were 3.9 billion accounts in 2013, which is expected to rise to 4.9 billion by 2017, as reported by Radicati Email Statistics Report. In which case, we might assume that the number of mobile email users will also rise from the 897 millions users worldwide reported in 2013.

Marketing

The future of email marketing is bright. There is clear value above and beyond what social media offers, for the email recipient, as well as the marketer. It was 2010 when Arrington wrote about the noise and decentralization of social media. It doesn’t feel like much has changed today.

What has changed are the tools and processes available. There are apps and extensions galore to customize (and centralize) your web experience. I can find a collection of the links I have personally shared on social media in my Buffer account. I use HootSuite to manage multiple Twitter accounts, and I will forever remain a loyal RSS reader. Now, with Goodbits, I can much more easily pull all this content into a curated email newsletter – putting it to work building an email community.

Moving forward, it’s clear that only sending one type of email, the hard sell, to your community will not work in one’s favour. High-quality, attention to detail, and highly-targeted emails will become more important to recipients with less time to process email newsletters. Keeping the email newsletters focused on the theme and value of the content will strengthen your branding and message, while entertaining your readers.

Finally, I think we should all commit to careful curation of information that we truly believe should be shared. Curation might just be the single, most important defense we have against wasting our precious time, but that’s a blog post for another day.