Hit “Delete” All You Want, Email Marketing is Still Alive and Well

By Katie Zurbrick
@zurbyy

This last weekend, I met someone with over 15,000 unread emails in his inbox.

As someone who is admittedly very type A and finds it difficult to relax in the presence of red notification bubbles, this really stressed me out.

I’m willing to bet the vast majority of those unread messages were promotional content, or “spam” as some would say. We all know what I’m taking about here; In fact, the average person receives 13 promotional emails a day. If you’re like me, you almost never open these messages. The funny thing about this is, even though I find these messages annoying and hardly ever actually read them, I personally opted-in to most of them. I mean, come on. When Bath and Body Works has a candle sale, I wanna know about it.

But really though.

In the age of social media, influencers, and sponsored content (#ad #paidpartnership) it might seem as though email marketing has fallen out of favor when it comes to forging a natural connection with consumers. Despite how annoying most of us find these emails, they work really well.

Email marketing is alive and well today. Here’s three reasons email should be incorporated into your marketing strategy.

1. Emails convert better than any other marketing channel.

That’s right. Despite how annoying email marketing messages may seem, they’re more effective at inspiring a purchase or conversion action than any other platform, including social media and organic search. In fact, email messages are up to three times more effective at driving conversion than social media marketing messages.

2. Email delivers the highest ROI for marketers.

According to a 2019 study by VentureBeat, investment in email marketing consistently generates the highest return over social, affiliate and even paid search. It can be done in-house without being outsourced to a marketing agency, and executed at an objectively low cost. Brands who manage their own email marketing lists have first-party data on their consumers; who engages most, least, and with what types of content. This data is incredibly valuable in crafting remarketing strategies and increasing the effectiveness of future campaigns.


3. Email is up to 40x more effective at acquiring new customers than social media marketing.


Forty (40) is a BIG multiplier. If you’re trying to grow your business, this is truly a game changer. According to research by McKinsey email continues to be one of the most effective tools for customer acquisition, second only to organic search. This is due to a few factors. For starters, 91% of consumers check their email daily. In addition, email marketing can be easily personalized and content tailored to the sender. While we as consumers are generally disenfranchised by mass email blasts of repetitive or irrelevant messaging, personalized messages are hugely effective in generating interest and building brand affinity among consumers.

Statistics like this are difficult for me to wrap my brain around, probably because I personally am in the camp that “I never read those emails” and try to be religious about hitting the “unsubscribe” button as soon as I’ve redeemed whatever offer I received in exchange for my email address. But regardless, they still got me, didn’t they?

Despite how badly we may want to turn down our nose at email marketing in favor of “sexier” inbound marketing tactics – email is still huge and is something that any marketer today should absolutely incorporate into their marketing strategy.

This Article Has 17 Comments
  1. Penny says:

    Hi,

    This is a great post. I too sign up for those emails, but i find myself receiving them and then deleting them. The three concrete details you provided gave good insight into the idea of emails and how brands use emails for promotional things. I liked your post, and I agree that emails should be incorporated more into marketing strategies.

  2. Kyra Lindsay says:

    I found this very insightful. I too cannot have notifications. I have found that in recent months I have been unsubscribing to more and more emails primarily because I do not remember signing up in the first place. We are so used to just giving out our information we do not really think about it. Some even have dedicated spam accounts.

  3. Abigail Portwood says:

    Great post. The amount of emails I receive daily is frustrating and eventually I created another email account to have all my spam emails go there, and its overwhelming to check because every time I do there is at least 30 spam emails from one day. It is annoying to go through and opt out of all emails but is necessary in the long run to maintain a clean inbox.

  4. Jillian Fraccola says:

    As much as I hate promotional emails, I agree, they are successful. Every so often when a brand sends too many irrelevant emails too frequently, I will unsubscribe to the email list. But most of the time, I tolerate the unwanted emails until I receive an offer that is relevant to me and something that I actually want to purchase. I also opt in to emails when looking at products on websites because I know at some point if I don’t purchase, I will get emails prompting me to purchase what I was looking at with a discount code.

    • Katie Zurbrick says:

      Lol! I love this and am guilty of doing it all the time. Want a product but don’t want to pay full price? create an account, add it to your cart, and then just *leave*. Give it a couple days and 9/10 times they’ll send you a coupon for it. Cheat the system Jilly Jilly!

  5. Jessica Klockman says:

    This post is spot on. No matter how badly we think we don’t want to receive these spam emails, we always end up falling for the “enter your email for 15% off…” promotion. We get caught up in the deals and automatically entered into the world of subscriptions and no matter how many times we unsubscribe, we will most likely never have an empty mailbox. Not only is it irritating to receive, but it takes up a good chunk of storage. Also, thinking deeper about the topic, I realize I have yet to meet a person who enjoys the promotional emails. This post hit all the right points and accurately reflected an issue all of us consumers have in common.

    • Katie Zurbrick says:

      Ha! It reminds me so much of people who complain about being sucked into the Apple ecosystem and being forever prisoner to iphones and macbooks… We hate it so much, but at the same time it provides so much value that we won’t ever leave it. That’s kind of how I feel about email marketing. I hate it and think it’s annoying, but yet here I am still subscribing and still opening. It’s wild.

  6. Molly Kavanaugh says:

    I too can not stand to see an unread email in my inbox, but it seems to be impossible to clear my inbox with the numerous promotional emails that flow in on a daily basis. I completely agree however, that emails are a lot more effective at inspiring me to purchase something than any other platform. I rarely look at promotional emails before deleting them, but if I am going to save one, then I will save if it contains some kind of marketing strategy pulling me back into their website such as a discount code or deal of some sort. Despite how much I hate getting hundreds of promotional emails a week, I completely agree with you that they are an extremely successful marketing tactic.

  7. Ofuma Eze-Echesi says:

    Great post, Katie! I agree that email marketing is very important for brands especially in terms of growth and consumer acquisition. I’m also guilty of opting in and opting out after redeeming an offer or receiving whatever information I wanted. However, some brands are finding better ways to manage email marketing in a way that discourages customers to unsubscribe. Examples include brands that give birthday discounts annually (can’t remember a specific brand), and brands like Nike that sends student discount codes during each online or in-store purchase. Also, during holiday seasons with brands releasing fun ads and awesome deals, I find myself searching my inbox for brands I registered with for deals. So, email marketing is powerful and still thriving.

    • Katie Zurbrick says:

      @Ofuma for sure! I love getting discounts like those as well. I wonder though from a brand perspective how they can manage to keep consumers engaged / interacting with their emails without offering some sort of monetary discount or gift? Could good informational content be enough for certain brands to keep users opening their emails? and if so, what would it look like? Organizations already do that with newsletters, but I wonder how a retailer or other brand that doesn’t have such a dedicated following could recreate this.

  8. Josie Ruff says:

    I am always wondering how companies even got my email address when ads pop up in my inbox. I really appreciate Gmail’s separate inbox tab for promotions to help weed out what is important. That being said, some of the brands that send me content have definitely roped me into purchasing something when I see a sale. I would say the process of brands getting me to become loyal customers is: I either buy something in store or from a social media account one time, then the brand has my email and if I like the merchandise I am hooked for life. Small jewelry and clothing brands where I know the names of the pieces I want are the most tempting because I will see the name in a subject line and have to open it to see what the discount is. On social media I may see a post about the same sale, but usually I just scroll past brand content. The emails are what breaks my bank for sure.

  9. Mark Yasak says:

    Great post Katie. I 100% agree with you, email marketing is still highly effective and it’s tough to find a company that doesn’t utilize it in some way. I’ve signed up on a bunch of websites, and while I delete 95% of the emails I receive there’s also the 5% that provide me exactly the product or discount I want/need. I think the real challenge is targeting the right people at the right time, which explains why consumer data is so valuable.

  10. Ben Feng says:

    Hi Katie,

    These are great stats. I’ve worked in companies where they specifically timed email marketing (day and time of the week) to get the best click-through rate. I’m wondering how gmail filters emails into spam and inbox. There are certain emails from both subsets that I want in the other subset. And how many times does it take to unsubscribe until the you’re actually unsubscribed.

  11. Ty Hancock says:

    I, like you, cannot stand the little red notification bubbles. Thus, I have permanently turned them off of my email app. Additionally, like you, I cannot resist the urge to buy BBW candles when I receive a promotional coupon via email. This is one of the few retailers whose emails I open that are not customized to me. These emails are mass-blasted and I could honestly care less. Is that how it goes with commodities? Apparel, gear, makeup and other goods seem to be tailored to the individual, while these BBW emails are general in nature and, in the Christmas season, cause mass hysteria in the candle shops.

    One other good point here is that email marketing can be done in-house and that the data is thus kept “in-house.” Data is king nowadays and being able to use targeted emails to convert sales is, as stated by your blog, one of the best ways to market and drive revenue. These consumers have already metaphorically dipped their toe into their product’s waters, and the email campaign is there to help them go full-cannonball-mode into the deep end.

  12. Jackson Ritt says:

    Interesting post! I really enjoyed the insight you brought with this, I truly had no idea it was so effective to sue email marketing. It’s funny reading some of the other comments because I too am a willing victim of the email market as a consumer, and everything you just talked about was so incredibly accurate. I wonder if email marketing is going to transform into a direct message form for social media platforms.

  13. Brandon Hargrave says:

    If I think about this in regards to how I interact with email marketing I am shocked that this still works. Seeing the numbers that you posted is even more alarming. Clearly I am an outlier in this email marketing world. However with those numbers it is clear that if something is continuing to work there is no reason to go away from it even as you explore other options. I think that gmail does a great job separating the spam/junk email into separate tabs market promotions so I feel like I rarely see any of them. So now I don’t even hit delete, I just continue on with my day unbothered. Now if we could only get rid of the telemarketing calls…

  14. Zach Newsom says:

    I’m shocked at the statistics on this. I have definitely been guilty of purchasing something if it catches my eye during email marketing but almost all the time I hit delete without ever opening the email. Then again, I almost never open any social media ads either…

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