Email. It’s the granddaddy of the internet; the antique of communication; a relic of a former age. Its tried, tested and has been around for donkey’s years. But, if you’re of the opinion that anything old must be rubbish, think again.

Email marketing is one of the most powerful elements in your toolbox of marketing gizmos. Despite other marketing methods receiving more attention (and often more budget), because they’re a bit newer, shinier, sexier, or whatever, email still deserves its crown as the champion of amazing marketing results.

Think you know email marketing? Let’s discuss five face-melting facts that might just shift your opinion…

One third of your customers will decide whether to open your email based on the subject line alone

That’s right. All that loyalty building you did, all the graphic design work on the email, all the time you spent negotiating the amazing special offer contained within… all that could be for nought, if you screw up your subject line.

So, how can you make your subject line better? Mailchimp did an interesting study to find out what makes us open and what doesn’t, and found that emails performed best if they:

  • Personalise: First name and last name work best
  • Create urgency: With time-limited offers or attention-grabbing words
  • Focus on positive: Use invitations and announcements rather than cancellations and reminders
  • Thank the recipient: For signing up, for ongoing support, for being alive… anything

Knowing that something as basic as the subject line could make or break your email campaign will, hopefully, spur you on to treat it with as much loving care and attention as you do every other aspect of your content.

Only 7 per cent of companies use email as a brand building tool

Comparatively, email is mainly used as a sales channel, with 26 per cent of companies using it to sell their products and services. Conversely, only 7 per cent report using it to build brand awareness. Sounds like a missed opportunity to us.

Think about it. If you’re on the mailing list for a particular company, and every day you get an email that says ‘hey, here’s our stuff, now go buy some’, what would be the outcome of that experience? Would you A) Go buy some stuff immediately, B) Buy some stuff and tell your friends about it, or C) Unsubscribe.

Chances are the outcome would be C. Be honest now, you know we’re right.

Now, let’s consider another scenario. You’re on the mailing list for a particular company, and every day you get an email that says different things. Some days they send you a video, sometimes it’s a hack or tip about their product. Sometimes they just send you something amusing, occasionally they ask you to buy their stuff; not often, but occasionally. What would you do now?

Emails that vary in content and focus on adding value to the customer instead of just being an eternal pushy inbox salesman are much more likely to resonate with your audience. Instead of hovering over the spam button, recipients will start to look forward to your email, will be more likely to open it and may even tell their friends. This sort of benefit is harder to measure than direct sales but results in you building a loyal fanbase of customers who will come to you when they are ready to buy.

Now that’s an opportunity worth taking.

Not that many people use social media (when you compare it to email)

What? Are you crazy? Everyone is on Facebook!

Actually, they aren’t. Maybe everyone in your circle of trust is on Facebook, Twitter and suchlike, but that’s not everyone.

Email has around three times as many users as Facebook and Twitter combined, totalling around 3.7 billion in 2017. Email crosses boundaries that social media doesn’t, forgetting age, ethnicity, geographical location and more. Older people tend to be less active on social media, but most of them will have an email account. Teenyboppers might prefer to hang out on Snapchat or Instagram, but again, will have email.

Email is highly personal, reaching out directly to each and every customer on your database, and retains an average open rate of around 21.7 per cent. Conversely, changes to the Facebook algorithm means less than 6 per cent of your fan base will actually see your post, and if you have more than half a million likes, it goes down to just 2 per cent.

One more item to add: what happens if Facebook dies, *GASP*? What, you think it could never happen? Hands up if you remember Myspace.

Social channels come and go in popularity all the time, and even if Facebook does reign supreme today, what if there’s a sudden exodus of users to another channel a year or two down the road? Companies investing thousands in Facebook marketing are suddenly left with nobody to market to, but you’re not. You know why? Because you’ve got their email address.

Email has the highest ROI of any marketing activity

According to figures from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), email marketing has an average return on investment of £38 for every £1 spent, making this the highest ROI marketing activity you can undertake. A fifth of the respondents to the survey even claimed figures as high as £70 per £1, and yet, were only spending around 10 per cent of their marketing budget on this activity.

And it’s not just the straightforward high ROI that’s making email marketing a winner; a good deal of weighting has to be applied to the ease of tracking and measuring this ROI, something which is not so straightfor3ward with other channels. For example, despite more than half of UK businesses spending more on social media marketing in 2017, only 10 per cent have figured out how to measure their ROI.

When it comes to ease of measuring impact, the rankings go something like this:

  1. Email
  2. Search
  3. Online advertising
  4. Website
  5. Direct mail
  6. Mobile adds
  7. Social
  8. Content
  9. Events
  10. Webinars

Because email is easy to measure, it’s also easy to control. It’s simple to test whether something is working or not, and it’s easy to validate its worth to those who hold the purse strings. This makes it attractive, both from a marketer’s point of view and from a business one too.

Transactional emails are your most lucrative messages

Research by Experian has shown that so-called ‘transactional’ emails have a much greater value to your business than any other email type. Specifically, a transactional email will produce eight times as many opens and clicks, and the revenue generated by these is in the order of six times more than any other email type.

Great, you say, but what actually are transactional emails? Well, these are the type of email that is sent to a specific user with the goal of completing a process or transaction which they initiated with you. Think registration emails, confirmation emails, feedback requests and cart abandonment emails.

Transactional emails have the highest open rate of any email type, and can be up to 75 per cent in some industries. When customers use this opportunity to click through and buy your products, transaction rates soar; 76 per cent higher for order emails and 57 per cent for returns and exchange emails.

The beauty of transactional emails, aside from their amazing rate of returns, is the slick, hands off ability you have to make use of them. Using easily available and affordable software, you can automate many of these types of emails to be sent out without your involvement. Design once, reap the benefits thousands of times.

So, there you have it. Five things you might not have known about email marketing when you work up this morning. Hopefully, this has convinced you to continue investing in emails and to take a fresh look at your strategy to ensure you’re getting the best out of it.