Name one marketing channel that could be so much more effective if it weren’t this boring.
I asked the same question to Chat GPT without any additional information. And the answer was clear: Email marketing.
There are over 4 billion email users globally, and more than 300 billion emails are sent and received daily (Statista). Although the volume is high and the channel is quite popular among marketers, your emails do not usually find the recipients well. While the average open rate is slightly over 21%, the click rates hover around 2.62% (Mailchimp). It means that only one out of five people is willing to hear what you have to say, and there is an over 85% chance that this one person won’t be interested in your message.
When you put it that way, you may ask, why bother? It’s not a cost-heavy method, but shall we invest our time and effort in more rewarding channels? The answer is a resounding no! And I will tell you why email remains a key channel for brand communication and how you can make the most of it with the right tactics.
A timeless classic
The first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson and was something like “QWERTYIOP.” We should have a “This meeting could have been an email” type of mindset ingrained in our DNA, so email was adopted quickly. As the internet became more widespread, emails evolved from a communication channel within organizations or between individuals to a channel for marketers.
Yet, with the accelerating use of mobile devices and the rise of social media, marketers began questioning whether these new channels were replacing emails. Frankly, the question itself is misleading, as it's never enough to reach the audience through a single touchpoint. Considering that omnichannel is the name of the game now, if you're still looking for reasons proving that email is a timeless classic, here they are:
Let’s talk about money first. According to Hubspot, every $1 spent on email marketing generates $36 in return. This alone is a huge reason to keep investing in this channel, but it's not the only one...
When I say that email is the key, it's not just a figure of speech. If you sign up anywhere—be it a shopping app or a government website—they're like "Speak friend and enter!" and you respond with email@example.com. That's why almost all internet users have at least one email address. As a business owner, having this information allows you to send your messages to an inbox that 99% of email users check daily, and 58% of email users check as the first thing in the morning, according to OptinMonster. Don’t underestimate this power. If your audience opts in for email notifications, it means that your brand messages might be right next to the latest electricity bill or an announcement of an upcoming PTA meeting. So, it’s somewhere people pay attention to. You can’t just give up on that.
Finally, email is a great tool to run experimentations because it gives you a sample audience and hundreds of opportunities to test your messaging, campaigns, and visuals. Since it’s possible to see how specific segments respond to specific messages, you can gather actionable insights into how your audience likes your latest collection, your holiday discounts, or your most recent campaign. So, you can test variations of your key messages before you make some big changes in brand positioning.
Breathe life into your emails!
On the flip side, just because people pay attention to their inboxes doesn't guarantee they'll pay attention to your emails. An inbox is a unique blend of public, private, and commercial. Much like in other aspects of life, people often push the commercial aside in search of what they're genuinely looking for.
This is the marketer’s curse: creating content that people would rather avoid or skip. With the ever-increasing number of messages, it’s getting only more challenging to grab attention. Well, we’re up for a good challenge and can be creative enough to overcome this avoidance.
So, if you can land in your audience's inboxes but aren't confident your emails are receiving the attention they deserve, here are some tactics to help you use this channel more effectively.
1) Maximizing impact with value-driven content
In content marketing, there's a myth that shorter copy is always superior. However, the truth is that concise writing rules this land, and the optimal content length depends on the channel and the message.
I've subscribed to several newsletters that I open and read every time, scrolling all the way down and clicking "view entire message" to continue reading in a new tab. What do they have in common? They deliver value. These newsletters provide information I'm interested in and share helpful tips and tricks that address challenges in my professional or personal life.
So, don’t throw discounts, campaigns, or new collection messages on people. For example, instead of a “20% off on skincare products” email, tell them 5 essential skincare tips for a glowing complexion and offer a 20% discount.
It’s easier said than done because it requires an in-depth understanding of the audience. But isn’t it the beginning of everything in marketing?
2) A picture is worth a thousand words
You've heard it before: "A picture is worth a thousand words." Well, it's still true, especially when discussing email marketing. Visual content grabs your audience's attention way faster than a block of text and gets your message across much more effectively.
But the common pitfall lies in using visuals merely to break up texts and add color to the content. Instead of simply using relevant images as decorations, ensure they serve a purpose. Effective visuals should complement your message, making it more engaging and meaningful for your audience.
Email marketing gives a few options to your audience. The only way they can interact is to reply or unsubscribe. The former requires effort, while the latter is something you want to avoid. So, how can you end this boring monologue and give them a chance to put their two cents?
This is my favorite feature of Inbox Stories, the latest product of Storyly. We’re familiar with the interactive stickers on Stories, and we love these quizzes, polls, emoji reactions, etc. So, you can embed them in your emails. Just continue to the dashboard and give it a try. After creating a Story, the only thing you need to do is copy and paste an HTML code to send interactive emails.
4) Personalization and segmentation
How many emails start with “Hey, FIRST_NAME!” do you receive per day? If an email is not personalized in this way, it's probably because you didn't provide your first name while subscribing, and there is no record of your name as a user property, this is a dull way of personalization.
True personalization is about understanding customer preferences, behaviors, and interests to deliver content that truly resonates with them. To achieve this, you need to gather data on your audience and use it to segment your email list into different groups based on factors such as demographics, purchase history, or engagement level.
5) Double opt-in to enhance relevance
Unengaged contacts piling up in an email list are more dangerous than one might initially think. It’s not only that they’re increasing your email marketing costs. Also, these contacts are misleading when it comes to evaluating email campaign performances. But a simple email requesting a double opt-in might be the cure.
People signing up with their email addresses doesn't mean that they’ll be up for your marketing emails. So, it’s a good tactic to be honest about what they should expect from upcoming emails and to ask if they’re up for that. In this way, you’ll send your emails only to interested people. If you use your marketing emails to run tests and reshape your strategy, you’ll be able to get better insights.
What’s the point?
Long story short, email marketing is far from dead. It remains a powerful and cost-effective channel for businesses to communicate with their audience and drive results. However, to succeed in today's competitive digital landscape, you must adopt the right tactics and stay ahead of the curve.
If you have other tactics to use this channel more effectively, send me a message on LinkedIn, and we can grow the list together.