How effective is Email Marketing?

We’re all familiar with an inbox full of emails from companies promoting their goods and services – most you probably can’t even remember signing up for, and a lot will seem utterly irrelevant. But have you ever wondered why so many companies still engage in email marketing activity? It’s simple. It’s because email marketing works.

It is still a far more effective way to acquire new customers than social media. The rate at which e-mails prompt purchases is not only estimated to be at least three times that of social media, but the average order value is also 17% higher*. Don’t get us wrong, social media is an increasingly important medium in the digital marketing mix, an absolute “must do” means of actively engaging with customers with PR signals – just don’t forget the humble email and its more direct approach.

With email marketing, you’re able to run campaigns where responses can be seen in real time and where your marketing ROI is easily measured. So how can you ensure your campaigns are boosted by effective email strategies? Like all marketing activities, the key word here is “effective” and this is, as always, the differentiator between campaigns which work and those that don’t. It’s worth noting that there are three key things to remember when delivering campaigns – strategy, quality and quantity. The most important of these three is strategy, and it is this which will determine the true effectiveness.


now Your Customer

The fundamental law of marketing. Who is your customer? What are they interested in? What motivates them? Etc. Your email content must be relevant and it should really add value to the customer. Don’t send out bland blanket emails that simply broadcast how wonderful your company is, or what fabulous products and services you’ve got – this is totally unengaging to your audience. Your email might get opened (if you’re lucky), but it’s very unlikely to engage or encourage purchase or loyalty. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – think about emails you’ve received that you like and dislike. Ask yourself why this and use this insight to guide your own strategies.

Customer Data

Target sections of your customer database with news/offers that you know will appeal. For this, you need great data and the ability to interpret it. A badly targeted message will be more than just ignored. It may also offend and possibly generate bad feeling and/or negative publicity, possibly via social media channels, where it is to easy now to do so. Buying good quality email data is difficult, so you will have to think about how to generate good quality data that is relevant to your business – such as asking customers to sign up to a newsletter on your website for example, with the promise of genuine benefits for doing so. There are good data lists out there too – you just need to be very careful when buying them. How about recent exhibition and conference lists associated with your business?


To build any relationship, you need to be perceived as being reliable and trustworthy. So send your emails regularly – but not overwhelmingly – and make sure the design, style and tone of voice collectively reflect your corporate brand values. Check that links from the email work, and that they point to where they’re meant to point. Creating landing pages that are relevant to the message in the email can also make a big difference – don’t feature a special offer, for example, then link to your homepage where the offer is not visible. Test everything before you press send. It makes your business look unprofessional if there are mistakes in your communications. Like all marketing, delivery makes a difference to efficacy.


Another key to email marketing these days is making sure it’s responsively viewable – i.e. that it will adapt in size / layout to fill the screen optimally on any device it’s being viewed. With more and more tablets and mobile devices being used to access the internet, social media and email accounts, the ability to view communications on them properly is becoming more and more essential.

Measure and Learn

The beauty of email marketing is that you can evaluate its effectiveness in real time. You’ll know just how many emails are being opened, clicked through, unsubscribed and so on – and by whom. You can then tailor follow-up emails or offers accordingly and, with A/B testing, where two different styles or messages are sent, you’ll be able to assess which route appears to be more effective. Analyse your results and apply any insights you discover. Not only will your email marketing campaigns become more effective and marketing ROI improve, but your customers will benefit too. They’ll be receiving emails that are more useful, interesting and beneficial. This will naturally lead to increased sales opportunities, improved brand loyalty, and more active customer engagement.

* Source: eMarketer, Email Marketing Benchmarks: Key Data, Trends, and Metrics, February 2013.

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