Research: The Journey of Email Marketing

With the overwhelming breakthrough of new, flashy digital marketing channels like social media and search engine optimization, you would be forgiven for thinking email marketing is on the verge of death.

But you’d be wrong.

With just a few clicks you can create emails, send them off and grow your business and that’s why it is still the number 1 tool for marketers. Emailcenter’s latest whitepaper “The Journey of Email Marketing” takes a look at the change in email marketing, with an analysis of data that has been aggregated from hundreds of millions of emails over the past four years.

Far from a reduced effectiveness, the picture we saw showed email marketing as an increasingly useful and important marketing channel.

There is a steady year on year rise in open rates and a downward trend in unsubscribe rates.

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You don’t just have to take our word for it either – Data from numerous trusted sources have consistently shown email marketing to be extremely effective. Studies have found that email marketing often outperforms Google Adwords and Facebook paid advertising.

“A recent study even found email to be almost 40 times more effective in acquiring customers than Facebook or Twitter.”

Not only that, it seems that people actually prefer email marketing compared to other types of online marketing. A survey by found that 77 percent of consumers preferred to receive permission-based email marketing. This probably makes more sense when you think of what little is offered in the way of spam filtering on other online marketing channels, such as social media.

Perhaps the most appealing advantage of email marketing is that it’s extremely cost effective.

“Studies have found that email marketing generates nearly double the ROI that other channels can manage.”

How emails have changed

Our data suggests that there’s not a one-size-fits-all rule for an email subject length.

In fact, the subject line length means absolutely nothing.

Open rates for emails with subject line lengths ranging between two and nine words saw a consistent year on year improvement, meaning the subject length is simply not that important. Email marketing is now much more focused on who the audience and industry is and what it is being sent.

The introduction of recipient feedback data has made an enormous difference to email marketing as businesses can now monitor and measure the success of their email strategy.

It continues to be invaluable in the quest for improving the ROI of email campaigns and gives marketers the opportunity to fine-tune their emails for better results.

Not only that, the introduction of behavior based email marketing campaigns has created enormous new potential for marketers and allows individualized email marketing based on a customer’s interests, as well as individually timed and triggered emails designed to gentle nudge the customer to convert.

Trigger based email campaigns are a great addition to any marketer’s email marketing strategy but are often overlooked.

“Surprisingly almost 2/3 companies do not make use of trigger based emails.”

However they are a must for any company serious about email marketing. If you can reach your users on a personal level, they will be more likely to open your emails, read the content and take action. Then you can sit back and watch the conversions come in.

How the reader has changed

So we can see how email marketing strategies have changed but what about the reader? The demographics of those using email have shifted to the mainstream and the way those emails are read have changed.

“Email opens on mobile devices have shot up from 14.8% in 2011 to 47.4% in 2014.”

This means it’s time for email marketers to prioritize mobile optimization.

Mobile device usage is growing and will continue to do so it’s absolutely essential emails are responsive and optimized for small screens. Waiting for images to load or zooming in to click a link offer a poor user experience.

With responsive email designs easy to setup, there’s no excuse not to optimize for mobile.

How the time of day has changed

Mobile devices have made a large difference to the way we read and act on marketing emails, especially in the morning and evening due to their use by commuters.

However, the effectiveness of commuter email opens depends on what the conversion goal is. Commuters are less likely to make a payment but are much more likely to open a newsletter.

So what does all this mean?

It means that email marketing continues to be an essential component of any online strategy. It has consistently performed as well or better than all other online marketing channels and when done right, it can generate impressive ROI which is hard to beat.

Monitoring and measuring the success of your email strategy is key – the most essential tools at your disposal are recipient feedback data and email analytics.

With the ability to measure views, bounce rates, click through rates and many other metrics you can see what works and what doesn’t.

Each audience is unique and will respond differently to different emails and once you have figured that out, it will allow you to push your email conversions to the next level.