Tom Wozniak heads up Marketing and Communications for OPTIZMO Technologies.
Once upon a time, digital marketing was considered to be a young person’s industry. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it certainly seemed to be filled with a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s looking to break away from “traditional” marketing and carve out a new path in the emerging internet arena. I was one of those folks.
Back then, every digital marketing channel felt like a new frontier. Email, which has been around since the 1970s, helped form the foundation for internet marketing. I believe this was because it already had a bit of a track record and was also more relatable for people with an offline background due to its similarity to direct mail — just “electronic.”
As marketers continued to test the boundaries of digital marketing in new channels like display, search and early lead generation programs, email continued to play a dominant role in their marketing programs. In both customer acquisition and retention, email consistently delivered results and a healthy return on investment (ROI).
Throughout those formative years of digital marketing, with explosive growth in both marketing opportunities and revenue generated, I remember many online marketers who predicted a day when internet marketing would eclipse traditional channels. Fast forward to 2020, and plenty of the predictions of those early digital pioneers have come true. For many companies, marketing is now a digital-first endeavor.
However, one prediction that many industry pundits have made for years, yet hasn’t come about, is the decline — or even end — of email marketing. While we all love exploring new marketing channels, marketing pros know that one factor rules the day when it comes to the channels and tactics we will continue to leverage: performance. As someone who has been involved with email marketing since the late 1990s and now heads up marketing for an email compliance company, I can say confidently that, despite its advanced age, email keeps performing.
In regard to email, which is in its 40s, there are a few key stats we can point to that demonstrate just how strong and healthy it continues to be in 2020.
Email Usage Keeps Growing
In early 2019, there were 3.9 billion (subscription required) active email users in the world, accounting for nearly half the global population. This number has been growing steadily year over year, and it is predicted to be just under 4.5 billion by 2024. In addition to all those email users, the volume of emails sent each day and the number each person receives have also been on the rise year after year. In 2019, 246.5 billion emails were sent each day.
These numbers, and the fact that they continue to trend upward from one year to the next, demonstrate the extreme staying power of email as a marketing and communications channel.
Email Has Adapted
It could have been feasible that the shift from desktop to mobile devices as the predominant means of connecting to the internet might have led to a slowdown in the use of email. Mobile devices have offered a number of different tools for easy communication between individuals and from companies to consumers.
However, email has simply adapted with the times and demonstrated its success as a device-agnostic communications channel. Interestingly, even in 2015, the majority of emails were opened on mobile devices. As mobile device usage evolves in the future, I don’t see this trend going away.
Email Delivers Results
There are a number of impressive stats on how email performs when reaching a large audience, driving engagement and converting customers. But I believe the single best gauge to evaluate the email channel’s value is often looking at the ROI.
Over the years, email has consistently delivered the highest ROI of any marketing channel. The average ROI of an email campaign, according to “The State of Email in 2019” report by Litmus, is $38 for every $1 spent. While that ROI obviously fluctuates from one advertiser or campaign to the next, it has largely held steady as an industry benchmark for decades.
Compare that to the average ROI of other channels and it’s easy to understand why email continues to lead the way for many digital marketers. For example, pay per click (PPC) is considered to be a strong provider of ROI, but a study of Google Ads campaigns found it only delivers $2 for every $1 spent.
Moving Forward With Email Marketing In 2020
If you aren’t fully leveraging email in your marketing strategy, the statistics show that there’s no time like the present to take advantage of the channel. Here are a few quick tips to consider:
• Focus on building your email list. Make sure you are gathering email addresses from your customers and prospects and looking for ways to deliver valuable content to them. Keep your list updated and cleansed regularly to ensure your delivery rate stays high.
• Take a mobile-first approach. It is likely your audience is going to view your email campaigns on their mobile devices. So, make sure you are following best practices in designing emails for smaller mobile touchscreens.
• Measure your ROI. Email can be a powerful tool for driving results like leads and sales, but it is equally effective for brand marketers. If your focus is on branding, look at bigger picture metrics like open rates.
As email charges headfirst into middle age, it seems like it is just hitting its prime. And I know many email marketers would agree. Keep that in mind the next time you read an article forecasting the demise of the channel in the years ahead. I believe there’s a pretty good chance we can circle back on this topic in 10 years and find that email just keeps on delivering results.