Nearly a decade has passed since analysts began declaring that email was on its way out, quashed by competition from an ever-expanding host of social media platforms. Even email giants like Google and Microsoft have had doubts about email’s ongoing effectiveness, spending years on (mostly fruitless) efforts to “reinvent” the form.
So what do reports of email’s imminent demise mean for email marketers? Not much, it turns out. By virtually any metric, email is still the best online marketing tool out there.
Let’s start with use. Email has 2.6 billion users, far more than any other platform. Of those users, 90% check their email daily, a much higher figure than Facebook, Twitter, or even texting can claim.
Email vs. social media
Use is one thing, marketing reach is another. Here email also has the advantage. Every email subscriber at least sees your messages, whereas among social media followers, the proportion who see a given post is in the single digits.
By virtually any metric, email is still the best online marketing tool out there.
Not only that, on average more than 20% of recipients will open an email marketing message. Overall, starting with the same number of subscribers or followers, many more people will open an email than will even see a social media post.
To top it off, email messaging has at least 50 times the click-through rate of messaging through social media platforms. Email also has a higher conversion rate; two-thirds of online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message.
An integrated approach
Social media can play an important role in promoting your business, particularly if you have a broad consumer base. For providing consistent reminders of your brand, your personality, and your value—e.g., countdowns to sales events or new product launches—social media is hard to beat. Social media also allows you to reach new customers through sharing of your posts. All of this lends strong support to your email marketing efforts.
Using an integrated approach that incorporates both email marketing and social media will help you build your brand, expand your customer or donor base, and increase engagement with your organization. Our earlier advice still holds: Make email the lynchpin of your marketing strategy while using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other relevant channels to build brand recognition and keep in frequent touch with your constituents.
Smart email marketing
Email marketing may be your best bet for reaching customers, but that doesn’t make it easy. Email users get an average of nearly 90 messages a day, and their attention span is understandably limited. You have only a few seconds to persuade them to click “read more” instead of “delete.”
Here are a few tips to help you target your messaging so you’ll stand out from the pack:
Craft a subject line that will hook readers. Messages with the highest open rates have subject lines that are either intriguingly short (one or two words) or fairly detailed (60-70 characters).
Provide something new. This is the place to offer new content, a special sale, or a can’t-miss deal. If you’re just saying hello, stick with social media.
Write compelling preview text that will entice readers to click through to the full post.
Use streamlined formatting and strong brand elements in your design.
Keep mobile readers in mind: readable fonts and concise content are even more important on a small screen.
Offer a clear call to action with links to your website to spur product sales, donations, or other desired results.
For more on email marketing, see this article from What’s Your Point?