Email Marketing: The Good & The Bad

Research shows the ups and downs of email marketing response rates.

Courtland Consulting - Email Marketing - The Good & The Bad
Email Marketing:  Does it Still Work?

Over the years, email marketing has been the marketing tool of choice for connecting with customers.  On average, people send and receive more emails than texts per day. But does this mean that email is still a good tool for business owners and marketers? The Direct Marketing Association recently released a new benchmarking report that highlights the good and bad of email marketing in the modern age.

The Upside of Email Marketing

To start with the good, email marketing is still going strong and still bringing in results. Even though there are a lot of newer forms of communication technology (e.g. texting, social media, apps, etc.), consumers still receive, open and click through the marketing emails that come through their inbox.

According to the report, which ends with data from 2015, it shows that email deliverability stands at 98 percent. This is an 11 percent improvement during the five-year period studied in the report. Essentially, this means that if you’re a legitimate marketer (not on a spam list), nearly all emails that are sent are getting through.

The report shows that email marketing remains an effective marketing strategy. The report found that unique open rates and unique click-to-open rates remain steady, currently at 15 percent and 20 percent respectively. Many marketers are having great results with emails. Two out of five marketers they surveyed (41 percent) rated email as their best-performing channel.

The Downside of Email Marketing

However, it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops for email marketing. As was mentioned before, there are competing communication methods that marketers are using to connect with consumers. This has an effect on the way consumers engage and interact with the emails they receive. Also, for a variety of reasons, click-through rates seem to be declining.

Open rates in 2015 (15 percent) are down from 20 percent in 2013. Similarly, click-to-open rates  (shown at 20 percent) have also declined from the high of 32 percent in 2013. Most troubling is a sharp decline in unique click-throughs. They have fallen to just a third since 2010’s high of 6 percent. In 2015, click-throughs were at an average of just 2 percent. This is still a good response rate, but the decline is still easy to see.

The BIG Takeaway

Business owners shouldn’t let the negative parts of the report overshadow the good. The fact that people still open and click through email marketing messages at a relatively good rate shows that the platform is still effective. The decline in certain rates may be more related to businesses using email marketing ineffectively, compared to an actual growing public shift from email.

It’s easy to dismiss the improvement ideas that research often suggests (e.g. better subject lines, more visual elements, triggered email campaigns, etc.) as just buzzword salad. But paying attention to the reports about what works and what doesn’t work for email marketing is what separates the marketers whose campaigns improve over time, and those whose efforts grow increasingly ineffective.

The results of this report also highlight the importance of using multiple marketing methods in an integrated fashion to reach consumers. Relying too much on one channel to reach potential consumers means that many of them will miss the message because it’s not on the communication method they use the most or prefer to use for shopping.

However, if your message is coming to them through email, social media and content marketing, search ads, and even traditional media, then it’s harder for people to miss. It also helps with the repetition that’s needed to move people to action. A recent report showed that more than 90 percent of consumers aren’t planning to buy something when they first visit a site or start a product search. So making sure they see messages multiple times ensure that it’s fresh in their minds when they are ready to take action.

Read the Full Report

Getting back to the DMA’s research, their full report is a little costly, but almost certainly a worthwhile read for most business owners and marketers. Email marketing is still a highly effective marketing technique, and learning to use it effectively can only be beneficial for business owners.

Courtland’s Email Marketing Services

If you need help with your next email marketing campaign, Courtland is here to lend a hand.  Contact us today!  We can design effective email marketing campaigns to keep you connected with your customers and help build strong customer loyalty.

Do you need marketing ideas for the Christmas season? Here’s a helpful article:  Ready for the Holiday Season? 7 Christmas Marketing Ideas.