Ever since the rise of social media sites like Facebook & Twitter, email has been predicted to be its casualty.

Not only has email’s demise failed to pan out, email marketing is growing 20% year-over-year, and by 2018 will be a $6.8 billion dollar business. Social media struggle to deliver comparable results to email marketing as studies show that email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter.

Email marketing ROI

Whether at work or home, nearly everyone who uses the Internet is using email, and there are no signs of that number declining. Certainly some activities—like photo sharing and status updates—that used to occur via email are now are shared with other applications, but email still remains the one online communication tool that everyone understands.Where websites rely on you visiting them, email comes right to your inbox, and because of this it feels somehow more important and personal. Businesses everywhere know this, and so a relatively small but outperforming email marketing industry has grown.Every day, millions of businesses—from sole traders to multinationals—send email to their clients, subscribers, suppliers and partners. Email has become a goldmine for marketers: for every dollar invested, the average return is $44.25 – or 4,400%. With email marketing still providing the highest return on investment of any form of marketing, it’s safe to say that email will be around for a long time to come.Email is a low-cost, high-return medium that appeals to businesses. For web designers, there’s the opportunity to add email design to their services and give clients another way to reach their goals.

For every dollar invested in email marketing, the average return is $44.25

Email marketing’s undeserved bad rap

Email, especially HTML email, receives a bad rap in general, especially from web designers. For some, it has become a synonym for spam, thanks to the very real problem of mass unsolicited sending. Email done right, on the other hand, is a powerful tool that can produce real value for both the sender and recipient.Jeanne S. Jennings, in her email marketing bible, The Email Marketing Kit, provides one of the best summaries on the benefits of email marketing. I’ve paraphrased it here:

  • Email is cost-effective. While there are costs involved in email marketing, such as copywriting and design, your production and delivery costs are significantly cheaper than that of direct mail. For the same amount, you can send out around a hundred emails for every direct mail letter.
  • Email builds relationships. While email may not be the only method that helps connect you with your audience, it’s the least intrusive—enabling the recipient to respond at their leisure. A well thought-out email plan can create and strengthen customer loyalty.
  • Email is active. Email marketing actively sends your message to interested people, rather than relying on them to find you each time.
  • Email provides timely results. The time between distribution and delivery of an email marketing campaign can be measured in minutes rather than days. This allows you to choose the time you deliver your messages with more precision, and also means results will become evident quickly after you start your campaign.
  • Email is quick to produce. Once you’re set up to run email campaigns, you can easily launch a major marketing initiative to all your customers in a few hours. There is no other direct marketing source that could be implemented in this sort of time period.
  • Email accommodates hyperlinks. With just a click of the mouse, a customer can go from reading your marketing message to purchasing at your online checkout. This speedy one-step process is what marketing dreams are made of.
  • Email provides detailed feedback. Email marketing allows for comprehensive feedback. You can measure how many of your emails were successfully delivered and opened, how many times your links were clicked on, and, importantly, how many sales you made. This also enables thorough campaign analysis.
  • Email enables affordable segmentation and targeting. Email marketing is agile, allowing you to vary the content sent to customers on your distribution list. You can segment, that is, split your lists based on market segments such as geographic location, purchase history, gender and age to send tailored messages, improving your conversion rate.
  • Email plays well with others. Email works well when part of an integrated direct marketing campaign. While other methods can come across as disruptive or pushy, email is able to prepare your customers for a sales call—or as a follow-up to a face-to-face sale—without getting in a customer’s face.

When to use email

Email itself has limitless uses, and email marketing is more than just sending out an email with a special deal on a product. There are a number of approaches you can use to engage your audience, and each type of email communication sent will deliver varied benefits, and require different design and planning processes. Let’s take a closer look at all of them. In specific industries there may be subcategories within each of the broad groupings I’ve outlined here, but these are the most common email types.

Email newsletters

As a basis for an ongoing business relationship, there’s nothing better than an email newsletter providing reliable, regularly delivered, quality information on relevant and interesting topics. By their very nature, newsletters are sent regularly. A company will usually set a schedule to mail subscribers weekly, every two weeks, or monthly, enabling the company to regularly promote its news and events in a timely way.

Email newsletters are widely used. They’re a common, proven communications tool that help countless organizations achieve their brand awareness, customer retention, add revenue, and other goals. While you may not yet be at the stage to compile content for a subscriber list on a regular basis, you are still likely to see the business benefits of even infrequent email newsletters.

Retail emails

Emails are the electronic newsletters of the online retailer. Depending on the retailer, the catalog can contain the same sections each time, or each issue might vary from the last. In building a catalog email, you should agree on a set number of items to include in each issue, as you would in an email newsletter. This will keep the preparation of the creative as straightforward as possible each time, while keeping your marketing budget on track. Bear in mind though that laying out retail emails can be more finicky, time-consuming work than producing a simple electronic newsletter.

Announcement emails

Emails that make an announcement are usually commissioned and produced on an ad hoc basis, when you have time-critical information to tell your subscribers. Perhaps you have a limited-time offer to promote. A host of possibilities can spark the need to send an announcement email.

One-off announcement emails are usually short and contain just one call to action. Often, there’ll be minimal lead time for the announcement, so there is a need to turn the job around quickly. If you’re likely to use announcement emails often, we recommend preparing a standard template in advance; this will reduce the time it will take to get their announcements out to subscribers with a consistent look and feel.

Press releases

Although they sound like announcements, press releases are more about public relations than sales. Companies from all industries prepare press releases about corporate and governance developments, product or service launches and upgrades, community contributions, and so on.

You might produce press releases frequently, but you’re unlikely to write them on a regular basis—every Monday, for example. In fact, timeframes around media release mailing tend to be tight at best, and unpredictable at worst. Again, preparing a media release email template might save time and hassle when it comes to distributing the release. This type is likely to differ from one used to make announcements.

Sales and sign-up process emails

If you sell products or services through your website, you may need to prepare emails that support or augment the purchase process. Also, If your company accepts any sort of user sign-up through your site—for a newsletter, for competitions, or even from visitors who want to register their interest in an activity that the company’s undertaking—there’s the potential to utilize these lists for future email marketing.

As well as creating automated email sequences, you might design email templates and create landing pages to support the sales or sign-up process. A landing page is the first page of a site that a visitor sees after clicking through from an email. Perhaps you’ll also set the messages to mail through an email autoresponder, and test the sequences before they’re made live. Why not tie in monitoring to assess the success of each email? Although sales process emails may seem cut and dry, you can see there’s a lot of scope for email marketers to show their creativity here.

Email marketing is not dead, in fact it is dominating as the most effective type of business communication available today. And given its cost-effectiveness and myriad use cases, the opportunity is your business’ for the taking.