Should we still be using Email Marketing?

Yesterday someone asked whether I thought email marketing was still valuable. Indeed, the question of whether the “e-newsletter” is dead continues to be a subject of debate – both off and online.

However, most arguments – no matter what side – appear to be only made by marketing people or businesses because it suits their own methods. So I would suggest that, if you are reading this because you are wondering whether to use email marketing, be wary of such advisors. Find someone unbiased. Hopefully for now, that’s me.

Arguments for not using E-Newsletters

  • On average, less than 10% apparently open them.
  • Most are written badly, with self-promotional content that puts any reader off.
  • No real personalisation and any attempt at it is rather see through.
  • You run the risk of annoying receivers who may have not directly signed up for them.

Arguments for using E-Newsletters

  • Generally people sign up for newsletters and therefore indicate that they are interested in the first place.
  • Sign up forms allow you to gather useful data about your audience, e.g. age or country, from the beginning. You can then use this to target particular groups.
  • Results are relatively easy to measure (unlike social media).
  • Everyone has email (unlike social media channels).

People are quick to compare e-newsletters to social media… But I feel that they are missing the point in this. Social Media was never a direct competitor to the e-newsletter, but more of a distant cousin.

As marketers we need to recognise that the success of an e-newsletter ultimately comes down to not the concept of itself, but rather two things – audience and content. It remains true that certain businesses will always profit higher than others. And yes, some businesses don’t need one at all. But for the majority of us, we should be looking at how we can combine our email marketing with Social Media to create the best of both worlds.

How to combine email marketing with your Social Media:

  • Make e-newsletters easy to share on Social Media channels (e.g. share buttons).
  • Keep design simple and take into consideration mobile and tablet browsers.
  • Remember a plain text version – more people are taking facebook.com addresses which don’t necessarily default onto HTML.
  • Collect high quality subscribers who know what they are signing up for – and take the opportunity to collect useful information like age, region etc that you can use to filter in the future.
  • Always measure your results – after all it is easy to do.
  • Send them at a sensible time – target people on their lunch break for example.
  • And lastly, perhaps most importantly, content. Stop self-promoting and start providing value. Social Media has taught this to us all. Give people a real reason to read your email.

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