Everywhere you turn, there’s another statistic affirming that email marketing may produce a better ROI than any other digital marketing channel. It has been shown to generate an ROI of 183 percent for small businesses, according to recent reporting by VentureBeat; that number increases to 246 percent among mid-sized businesses. Also, a recent study by the DMA found that one in five companies report an ROI of 70-to-1 for their email marketing efforts.
If you’re like most marketers, at some point you’ve likely wondered why your dollars go further with email compared to newer, more sophisticated channels such as social media.
For one thing, email is the only channel that you can “own” as a marketer, because it gives you complete control over your message, when it goes out and who receives it. Alternatively, channels like Facebook and other online advertising platforms limit organic reach and control when your content is posted and who will see it.
Adding to the benefit of putting you in the driver’s seat is the fact that you can personalize your messages and control which offer gets in front of which subscriber, which has proven to have a big impact on email marketing campaign results. In fact, a recent study of more than 100 billion customer emails sent by B-to-B, B-to-C and nonprofits in 2014 and 2015 found that sending more personalized email campaigns can result in overall open rates being lifted by nearly 150 percent. When you focus on presenting customers with personalized messages and offers, you’ll boost engagement and drive word of mouth, which also inspires new customers to subscribe.
Finally, the relative low cost of email marketing, especially when compared to other digital marketing channels, is another reason why it inherently results in higher returns.
On the flip side, there has also been a lot of talk about email being replaced by social media, IM and text. Not to mention the chatter about the impact of spam filters and new regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM Act, which can impose hefty fines to those businesses sending unsolicited email to customers. Given all of these factors, how is it that email is delivering such a high ROI for many marketers, while others struggle to lift open and click through rates?
- Remember Why Customers Want Your Emails. While you know there’s much more to email than simply hitting the send button, it’s worth revisiting some best practices in your email campaign content. What inspires customers to look forward to hearing from you is your ability to consistently provide the content and offers that are most aligned with their interests and needs. This will vary, based on your business and target audience. But as you develop content, you’ll want to keep in mind the main reasons why customers sign up for email lists. A report (opens as a PDF) by Blue Hornet cited the following reasons: 64.3 percent join a mailing list to be part of a loyalty or rewards program, 39.3 percent sign up because they love the brand, 35.2 percent enter for contests or sweepstakes, 20.1 percent subscribe for exclusive news and updates, and 19.8 percent want product or service information.
- Stick to Opt-In Marketing. Also, email marketing is permission-based. Yes, it’s tempting to add contact names you captured from your website or a recent order and assume that if recipients don’t want to hear from you, they’ll unsubscribe. This approach can backfire by landing you in a spam filter, getting your messages blocked or having you reported to the ISP. Plus, it’s ineffective and wasteful to be sending emails to those who haven’t indicated that they want to hear from you.
- Mobile Optimize. Along the lines of email delivery, keep in mind that almost 51 percent of all email is now opened on either a smartphone or a tablet. As you develop your content, make sure that your messages are mobile responsive. If your email takes a long time to download or is difficult to read on a mobile device, customers will move on to the next message and aren’t likely to revisit your email, even when they’re back on their laptops. Three-quarters of subscribers say they are highly likely to delete emails that don’t render well on their mobile devices.
- Less Is More. When you engage interested customers and personalize messages, you’ll likely see higher ROI from your email campaigns. As you analyze results, however, there might be a temptation to want to send more email, assuming it will deliver even greater results. The risk here is that your customers will start to tune you out and you’ll wear out your welcome by sending too many messages.
That’s the beauty about email ROI: Oftentimes, the highest return is a direct result of a controlled approach to email marketing campaigns. Test to see how often your particular subscriber base wants to receive emails. Send no less, and certainly no more. Also consider the fact that email campaigns with three or fewer images and only about 20 lines of text perform best in terms of clickthrough rates; meaning simpler, concise content is best.
This is what we mean when we tell people “less is more” when it comes to email.
As your 2016 campaigns get under way, consider the impact of email marketing in helping you reach your goals. Email continues to be one of the best-performing marketing channels on its own and as part of an integrated marketing strategy.
Related story: 4 Email Data Points Support Increasing Budgets in 2016