Email marketing is the current hot trend, but how effective is it?


Email is free.  At least it is free to send a personal email from your private email address.

Email marketing, commonly reputed to be free, has a significant time factor cost.  If you choose to send and reply to emails personally, factor in the value of your time.  Marketing costs time or money or both.  The potential does exist for immediate response.

Add the special software to automate your email marketing and take the time to learn the system or hire an electronic marketing firm to initiate the campaign for you and the cost factor changes.  Researchers estimate that United States firms alone spent US $1.51 billion on email marketing in 2011 and will grow to $2.468 billion by 2016.[1]

Types of Email

Transactional emails convey information.  A receipt for a purchase, welcome email for opting in to a website, “you have notifications pending on Facebook,” or password resets are all transactional.  “Due to its high open rates (51.3% compared to 36.6% for email newsletters[2]), transactional emails are a golden opportunity to engage customers; to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers, to anticipate and answer questions or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services.”

Marketing emails flood our inboxes with such overwhelming mass that the risk exists that they will be caught in a firewall, spam filter or be the victim of the rapid-response delete button click.  Major servers report a 56% delivery on marketing emails with 20% of those rejected and 8% filtered.  It is noted that delivery between 1 am and 5 am outperforms any other electronic delivery time for open rate and click through to web site rate.

Personal email receives the highest ranking with over half the American Internet users checking email every day.

Challenges with email marketing

Email marketing is permission marketing. Bore a recipient or provide non-relevant content and they can opt out.  Failure to provide an “unsubscribe” (opt out) to an email recipient and you can find yourself blacklisted as a spammer, blocked from any future communication, and perhaps even reported in unsavory terms in social media.

Are your emails readable?  Emails are highly likely to be viewed on a mobile device. Your carefully crafted multimedia content or images are not going to be readable by most people. According to Survey Sampling (2007), about 65% of decision makers are viewing your marketing email on their text-only mobile devices.  Send in plain text because HTML (hypertext markup language) may not display correctly, if at all, and images may not show at all.

Trustworthy source.  Be certain your sender name is visible and trustworthy; robot mailing triggers the delete button.

The subject line and opening few words influence the decision to open or send to the trash. Words like “free,’ “money,” or all caps in the subject line or body of the message send the email straight to spam without ever entering the gaze of the recipient.

Limits on emails sent. limits you to 1,000 emails per day while other providers limit to 5 to 10 emails a minute.  Violators may have their account suspended.

Links break.  Broken links frustrate recipients.  Just as various browsers display the format differently, they may or may not display images or connect links.

Use less text with email.  Be brief and relevant.  People read 25% slower on screen.  Nielsen recommends using 50% less text.

Comparison of Email Marketing to Direct Mail Marketing

Email is permission marketing which seriously limits the flow through of the message to the potential market.  Direct mail has a 100% delivery rate.

The United States Postal Service offers a direct mail service “Every Door Direct Mail” USPS Every Door Direct Mail that provides resources for businesses to target, design, print and mail to specific households without needing to know the addresses.

Direct mail is readable.  The print, text, images and format are always consistently readable.  Select a top quality printer and direct mailer like and your prospect will always receive professionally printed brochures, postcards or marketing materials you are proud to associate with your name.

One of the relevant advantages of direct mail is that its trustworthiness is never in question.  Your brand is proudly represented on every piece you mail out. The tangible characteristic of printed media adds considerable credibility to your direct mail pieces.

Personalized subject line is always effective in direct mail where authorities disagree whether it increases the open rate in email marketing.  Google changes algorithms at least every 4 – 6 weeks; internet effectiveness changes day to day, where printed marketing is consistent.

Regardless of the media, the subject line should be concise, catchy and relevant.

Statistics show out of 100,000 emails sent, by the time they filtered through delivery rate, open rate, click-through to landing page, response to enter contact information was 114.  Sales were 26 – .026 percent (.00026). This low rate reinforces the value of working hard to maximize opens, clicks and landing page response.  With email marketing there are numerous stumbling blocks on the path to success.  Miss one and you’re OUT.

Compare to direct mail response rate of 2.66 % (.0266). It is 100 times better with direct mail.

With printed brochures, catalogs and direct mail, there are no limits, no link breaks and no text limitation factors.  High quality, excellent deliverability and superior response rate confirm that printed marketing materials are still extremely effective in an electronic era.