Email forever

Why Email Marketing is the Most Important Online Channel

In our beautiful and colourful digital world there is hardly anything that changes with greater reliability than our app usage. Since the dawn of the smartphone (sounds like half a century ago, but in fact it’s only been 10 years) we’ve used thousands of apps and services – many of which have long been forgotten, all of which have fundamentally changed in the way they work.

All apps? No! A service populated by indomitable users does not stop resisting the intruder: the e-mail.

Because despite all the growth stories of WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram and whatever TikTok is, e-mail can’t be killed. And that’s why email marketing is indispensable.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

The evergreen e-mail meadow

How little this channel has changed is soon clear when you look at the extension of your e-mail address (please raise your hand if you still have a AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail address). My email account is the first login I had on the Internet. And the chances are good that I will keep it forever. About which other service can you say that nowadays?

And the figures also speak for themselves: 98 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the German Digital Industry Association stated that they use e-mails (Mysterious: Who are these two other percent?) Industry leader Gmail has an estimated 1.5 billion users, but in any case more than 1 billion downloads on Google Play. That’s a fifth of the world’s population.

It is unlikely that these figures will change in the future. An e-mail address is practically indispensable for life on the Internet: you need an e-mail address for every login. And if you don’t need an e-mail address, but can log in with Facebook, Amazon or even TikTok, you need it to log in to these services. The e-mail address is the one unique identifier, the digital identity card, without which nothing is possible in digital life.

Email is the trump card

If almost all people use e-mails, almost all people can be reached with an e-mail. The potential target group on this medium is gigantic, no other medium can keep up here: 73 per cent of the people use social networks after all. Other major media such as television, radio and newspapers are even below that. The march direction for marketeers seems clear: e-mail is a must-have if you don’t want to do without 26% of the total population as a target group right from the start.

And yet email marketing is often hung up behind social media, SEO, SEA and even display advertising in terms of importance to companies. The question is: Why?

Because the marketing aspects also give a clear recommendation: With good email marketing campaigns, you can expect a click-through rate (CTR) of 3-5 percent, often significantly higher. With paid advertising campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google Ads, you can usually only dream of these results (I don’t even start with ads in magazines or TV commercials).

And of course you have to buy the clicks on these third-party portals – every interaction with an Instagram Ad is followed by an interaction with the marketing budget. Sending an email, apart from any license fees for the email tool, is free.

Know your customer 2.0

And last but not least, there is the fine detail of the customer relationship. If my digital marketing mainly consists of advertisements in search engines, social networks and map services, I also hand over the complete control of my customer relationship to the bad guys (GAFA: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon). And I am therefore absolutely dependent on these services.

If then one of these Internet monopolists decides to limit my access to their goods (and yes, those are us users), there’s usually only one option left for me: looking silly.
By the way, many companies have already made the mistake of exchanging their customer relationship for reach. Media companies know full well about it.

Good Email takes time to ripen

The reasons for the, measured by the benefits and importance, relative neglect of email marketing in many companies are manifold.

Often excessive expectations are placed on this channel. Expectations that increase even further due to the rapid success of advertising in reach services such as Google and Facebook: “With Facebook, I can achieve 40,000 impressions with a 200€ ad. Our e-mails just reach about 500 people.”

This is a valid argument – building up a relevant e-mail recipient list takes time and time always costs money. Especially if a company is not active in eCommerce and therefore already has many possibilities to build up a recipient list, you have to work hard on your customer base. But the more relevant question is: “How often would I like to spend this 200€ on a Facebook campaign? Is it worth it in the long run?”

Another problem that can be shown using the same example is the monitoring of false KPIs. Those who define marketing success in terms of quantity will have a hard time getting into email marketing. If you look at long-term, result-oriented key figures, such as cost per lead (CPL) or customer lifetime value (LTV) by channel, “e-mail” is often the best. However, if you measure e-mail marketing with short-term key figures, you will get inferior results on the one hand, but on the other hand you will not do justice to the long-term interpretation of this marketing approach.

The tip of the iceberg

But one of the main reasons for the often underdeveloped email marketing in many companies is probably the following: The whole thing is much more difficult and complex than you might think.

Because the email that ultimately reaches users or customers is only the tip of the iceberg. What does this e-mail say if, like Adidas or Karstadt, you can’t simply discount products from the online store and put them in an e-mail? More importantly, where does the content of this email take me?

So when we talk about email marketing, we automatically talk about content marketing in all its facets: Blogs, videos, landing pages, CRM, lead nurturing and sales processes. Good email marketing is an interface between the various tools and stations of content or inbound marketing and helps to send potential or existing customers on the customer journey.

The most important resource

Ultimately, good email marketing requires one thing above all else: the right personnel. Because only this personnel is qualified to find solutions for these complex problems and questions.

How do we ensure that an e-mail is displayed optimally (or at least legibly) on hundreds of end devices and various e-mail programs?
How do we segment our users in the CRM?
What content do we need for which part of the customer journey?
How do I run multivariate tests?
Where does the Lead Funnel take us?
How can we personalize the content of our email?
How do we measure the results of our campaigns?
And who actually writes the texts?

Depending on the scope and size of the company, e-mail marketing can thus be turned into one or two full-time jobs. And this is also the reason why many companies prefer to neglect the topic.

However, if you have managed to establish an existing email marketing, you will also automatically make progress in the topics SEO and social media, as these benefit directly from the content created. Unfortunately, the other way around – not so much.

tl;dr

Email marketing is the most important and successful online marketing channel. With its own user database, the control over the customer relationship remains within the company, and e-mails are cost-effective and efficient. But the actual e-mail is only the tip of the iceberg: e-mail marketing sits on a mountain of customer relationship management, content strategy and lead nurturing. And to manage it well, you need the right people and the commitment of the organization.

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