Marketing Articles

Is Email Marketing Dead: Why It Still Works (Even in 2017)

by Suzie Blaszkiewicz
Published on 28 August 2017

Is email marketing dead

Is email marketing dead? If Gartner has anything to say about it, certainly not. In a recent report (available to Gartner clients), it ever-so-jovially describes email marketing like this:

"A classic scene from the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" evokes the state of email marketing: A "dead" man being offered up to the "dead collector" plaintively insists, "I'm not dead." The scene features Monty Python's trademark deadpan humor, but email's role as digital marketing's connective tissue is no laughing matter. In fact, even if email lacks the shininess of mobile and social media marketing, it's difficult to imagine any brand's marketing efforts succeeding without this results-oriented mainstay."

Although email marketing may not be the new kid on the block, it's still regarded as one of the most effective forms of marketing. Not only is it one of the most affordable and scalable marketing options, it's also one of the only types of marketing that offers immediately measurable results.

"Email marketing is still the strongest marketing choice a small business owner can make," says Erin McKeeby, general manager at SendinBlue, an email marketing software. "As media consumption becomes increasingly fragmented and traditional marketing (and social media) channels become less reliable, email remains the marketer's steady workhorse. Done well, email delivers a 38-to-1 return on investment."

Along with a high ROI, there are other reasons why email marketing is not dead in 2017:

  • It's a highly targeted form of reaching customers
  • It allows for personalization
  • It's easy to measure the success of campaigns.

As McKeeby notes above, if done properly, email marketing can have huge benefits for your business. The question shouldn't be "is email marketing dead?"- it should be "how do I execute on my email marketing campaigns?"

For that, you'll need a contact list, good content, and the right email marketing solution. I'll go through each below to show you that email marketing is well and truly alive.

Building a contact list

Building a contact list is probably the most difficult yet most important part of an email marketing campaign- without a list, you have no potential customers to convert.

While it's usually easier said than done, there are plenty of ways to help build and maintain a mailing list. Sign-up and opt-in forms on your website or blog are probably the most obvious choice.

McKeeby says: "Building an opt-in email list is essential because email marketing is one of the best ways to acquire new customers and grow your business. In fact, email is[…] the strongest channel for direct response marketing according to the DMA. Your website is a key place to start growing your list because visitors have already demonstrated interest in what you have to offer by visiting your site."

If you're using WordPress, for example, you can use email plugins to help build up your list, or use a dedicated email marketing solution with plugins or form builders. Just make sure that whatever you're using, it integrates with your email marketing solution and your CMS for proper list management.

Tools for list building:

  • Optin Monster: Create forms for lead capture with A/B testing and page level targeting.
  • Leadpages: Create landing pages that attract users to sign up to your newsletters.
  • SumoMe: A tool to help grow web traffic which includes email capture and a list builder.

Promoting the right content

Deciding what to put in your marketing emails is another hurdle. You want to make sure that you're including content that's interesting to your target audience so that a) they won't unsubscribe, and b) they'll click through.

Says McKeeby, "successful email marketing programs implement strategies that prioritize the recipient's needs first and foremost. Before hitting send, marketers must consider how each message provides value and supports their customer relationships long term."

The brilliant thing about email marketing is that it's easier than other types of marketing to measure its effectiveness- open and click throughs rates give you exact details about how a campaign performed, and with A/B testing, you can try different things to see what works better. This makes it easier to try to replicate successes, while discarding things that didn't work.

As this Gartner report (available to Gartner clients) on email marketing notes:

"Be persistent in your pursuit of answers to the "so what" and "why" questions about your messaging content. Be equally relentless about testing everything from subject lines to imagery to language and offer content."

Tips for crafting great email marketing content:

Choosing an email marketing software

The next step is choosing a software to help you automate the email marketing process. Whether your biggest concern is design, price, or features, make sure that you're choosing an email marketing software that ticks all of your boxes.

Features to consider when choosing a solution include:

  • Segmentation: Put users into different buckets based on previous interactions.
  • Mobile-responsive templates: Readers will be able to see your email campaigns on a mobile device.
  • A/B testing: Try out different headlines to see which ones get the most opens and clicks.
  • Analytics: Get insight into your open and click-through rates.
  • Automation: Set triggers for campaigns to be sent after certain actions are performed.

Some of the leading email marketing tools include:

  • Sendinblue: An email marketing and marketing automation tool with mobile-friendly templates, campaign reports, and transactional messaging, starting free for 9000 emails a month to an unlimited number of subscribers.
  • Constant Contact: Email marketing with customization, personalization, and contact management, starting at $20 a month for 500 contacts.
  • MailChimp: The classic email marketing solution with a freemium plan offering up to 12,000 emails to 2000 subscribers per month.

For more options, check out the GetApp Scorecard to discover an email marketing solution with features that cater to your needs.

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This article was originally published on June 19, 2014 and has been updated for content and recency.


Apps mentioned in this article