With 73% of consumers saying email is their favourite channel, it remains a fundamental part of the marketing mix. Profusion email consultant Emma Church reveals why it’s thriving

I love email. I love everything about it.

And it’s not just because I’ve spent the past 15 years of my working career advising on email marketing. It’s because, despite so many reports to the contrary, it still has so much to give.

Yes, email is a thriving channel, albeit slightly more mature than the rest … just like me in many respects. 

Email continues to be my clients’ favourite channel precisely because their customers still use it, engage with it and most importantly, buy from it. Workhorse, lynchpin, anchor – call it what you want – email remains a fundamental part of the marketing mix.

4.2 billion email users by 2023

According to a study by the Essence of Email, the approximate number of email users in 2018 was 3.8 billion. And by the end of 2022 it’s expected to have grown to more than 4.2 billion. Here’s why:

1. Email is an inexpensive tool with a high ROI rate

2. It’s easy to increase response rates with personalised content

3. It reaches mobile consumers effectively and complements all channels

4. Email automation saves precious time

5. Interactive content engages your customers

6. It’s performance is easy to track and measure.

To back this up, research published by the Data and Marketing Association in April 2019 suggests that 73% of consumers rate email as their preferred marketing channel.

As we’ve learned over the years, every channel finds its place within the ecosystem and – although our younger generations are not looking for an ‘anchor’ channel – email plays a major role. According to BlueCore, it still overwhelmingly outperforms all other channels for both Millennials at 64% and Generation Z at 60%.

(And while I’m on the subject of our beloved youth, check out this gem of a blog post: Empowering our Children of the Data Age.)

Email is at the cutting edge of marketing

Now back to our anchor.

I love email because it has history, legacy! According to Wikipedia, email is 70 years old. Of all the most popular coding languages used today, HTML must be one of the oldest. Nevertheless, email developers continue to adapt and develop code to make it render across the multitude of sleek applications and devices we chose to read email from. They press on in designing new ways to make the email exciting, interactive and innovative. We can do fun quizzes, play games, participate in real-time polls, and even purchase directly from the email itself.

Even Gmail has gone a long way to support marketers in email, with its annotations feature that brings extra coding into html to promote emails within the Gmail inbox.

Then there’s real-time personalisation or contextual marketing that enables emails to deliver content based on location or preference, making it seasonal, dynamic and truly personal. ‘Right place, right time’ marketing that contains hyper-personalised content has not only become the norm – it forms a key part of today’s marketing strategies.

Email providers have adopted AI (machine learning) to improve spam filters – and in doing so have vastly improved the user experience. This has essentially been done for free and contrasts greatly with social network sites’ failure to fully leverage AI to remove offensive content before it reaches vulnerable people.

As companies invest heavily in digital transformation, looking to simplify the customer interaction with the business, once again email forms a critical role within this whole process. It is fundamentally important for promoting new customer experiences.

Measuring the success of email

As for email metrics, there are plenty. Most KPIs look at opens, clicks, click to opens and opt outs to carve benchmarks and gain an understanding of their customers’ engagement. Also, unique to email and web is the much-loved dwell rate which measures how long a customer is digesting the content. If 70% of openers are spending more than nine seconds reading your email, that’s a good sign. 

Email brings return on investment. This works directly if you can track ‘click to purchase’ and you’re an ecommerce retailer, or less directly if your attribution model works as you would like and you see how it fits within the funnel. 

I love email because it has endured, risen and conquered. I love it because it’s not ‘owned’ and you don’t get locked in like you do on social media channels. En fin, I owe it a debt of gratitude – it keeps me in a job. 😊

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