Email Isn't Dead — 3 Ways it Boosts Your Marketing ROI

When you think about digital marketing, social media is probably the first channel that comes to mind. But did you know that 90% of emails reach their intended inbox, and only 2% of a company’s Facebook followers see their posts in their newsfeeds?

You could be spending valuable time (and money if you outsource design/content marketing) conducting audience listening, creating the perfect graphic, researching hashtags, and crafting sizzling copy — for 98% of your followers to never even see it. Don’t fret though, we have good news here at Moxie.

First of all, email isn’t dead. Secondly, social media is an incredibly valuable part of your overall marketing strategy, but it's not the ONLY part. And finally, we’re going to cover three ways email boosts your marketing ROI.

“OK, but if email is so great, then why do I have low open rates? Obviously people don’t care about it anymore.”

For the skeptics, a whopping 59% of marketers report that email yields their highest ROI. And it’s one of the most reasonable tools out there. Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars on paid advertising and retargeting efforts, a basic email subscription service runs as low as $15 a month. That means it’s 100% worth taking the time to understand and carve out an effective email marketing strategy.

We use email every single day for a variety of reasons: Bills, work, eyeing sales, and service or shipping updates. In fact, it's 11 AM and I’ve already checked my email four times today; I’ve received 47 emails in that time. But here’s the kicker: How many emails have I opened? Zero.

So, why does it seem like your email marketing is failing? There are countless possibilities — no, that’s not a cop out, it’s the truth! Opening an email depends on SO many different factors.

The experts at HubSpot like to say it’s all about sending the "right email to the right person at the right time." Those words sound simple, but the timing is the hardest (and arguably, the most important) part. I wish there was one foolproof method, but the more audience research you conduct and the more testing you do, the better chance you have to nail your timing. More on that below.

A jean-ius subject line

I absolutely love Old Navy. They’re one of the few companies that I allow coveted access to my inbox. Do I open every single one of their emails? Absolutely not. I don’t have time for that! But last week, I went through my closet and donated about half of my clothes, including 75% of my jeans.

That same night, I was scrolling through my inbox and saw a subject line with some form of “$10 jeans till midnight.” You best bet I opened that email (and proceeded to spend $200; it’s all about that free shipping, baby). Did Old Navy know that I cleaned out my wardrobe? No. But it sure felt like it to me. They sent me the right email at the right time, and it paid off.

Now, if Old Navy looked at the last 15 emails they sent me, they’d notice that I never opened them. That one email though? I not only clicked through the email, I made a pretty sizable purchase (I’d already secured free shipping after all... what’s a couple new sweaters?).

If you’re analyzing your metrics and get discouraged by a slew of unopened emails, just remember, your audience is still there. They’re just waiting for your $10 jean sale.

Email marketing is like social media marketing — but we can get more out of it

That’s a bold statement, I know. Like social media marketing, successful email marketing strategies adapt to suit newer trends, and more sophisticated technology. The problem with most email marketing strategies? They don’t adapt.

If you make a series of three Facebook posts and nobody likes them, what do you do? (Other than cajole your mom, sister, and uncle’s wife twice removed to comment so that you have better engagement.) You go back to the drawing board and try something different. But there’s a big hole there. You’re left wondering what went wrong. Did it miss the mark? Or did it even show up in people’s feeds? You have no idea. (But as we learned earlier, probably not.)

Now, let’s go back to Old Navy. They had the certainty that each one of those 15 unopened emails landed in my inbox. I wasn't unsubscribing, but I wasn't clicking on anything either. They tried different tactics. I vaguely remember seeing a couple emails about new inventory. Finally, on the 16th email, “$10 jeans” and “till midnight” got me.

I guarantee I wasn’t the only person who opened that email. In fact, I’d confidently wager that it was one of this year’s highest performing emails. I’m also quite confident that the team at Old Navy have spent time analyzing that subject line against the other 15 emails with lower engagement. They're adapting their strategy, and they have the insight to do so. That's the power of email marketing.

What is the ROI of email marketing?

You get tons of data and testing capability for a low cost with the unwavering confidence that your audience is seeing it. Email generates $38 for every $1 spent, and that staggering 3,800% ROI is due to: Accurate deliverability, segmentation, and customization.

1. Accurate Deliverability

You can’t adjust your marketing strategy if you have no idea whether or not your audience is seeing your message. Email marketing gives rare visibility to your customers: You’re landing in their inbox. (And if you aren’t, you have a report to tell you why.)

In 2021, you should also be abiding by CAN-SPAM, certifying that you’ve ethically obtained permission to contact your recipients. So if they’ve opted into your emails, you also know that they want to hear from you; you aren’t interrupting their user experience. On social media or Google, your audience is probably scrolling for other information, so your message is just noise they don’t need.

That doesn't mean you can sit back and relax. Your email still has to stand out amid hundreds of others, but you have the confidence that your subscribers want and are receiving your messages. You just have to make them openworthy.

2. Segmentation

That’s where personalization comes in. Email gives the power to "segment" your emails, meaning that you can sort your lists based on very specific information about your subscribers: Geographic location, purchase history, and age are just a few examples.

Since mass communication and impersonal sales pitches are so 2008, the more segmentation your email list has, the better. Marketers using segmented campaigns can experience as much as a 760% increase in revenue. Niching down sounds like a lot more work, but it gives you the ability to run far more effective campaigns.

Let’s revisit the Old Navy example. The customers who clicked on the $10 jean email have obvious similarities. I don’t work in the marketing department at Old Navy, but even without all of the behind-the-scenes data, I can identify three commonalities right away: $10 was a great price point for them, they like denim, and the urgency of “till midnight” enticed them.

If I worked at Old Navy, I’d put all of these people in a list called “February Jean Buyers.” Now let’s say in three months, they run a sale on denim shorts. The department can pull that list and run an ad very similar to the jean campaign. Maybe they even offer Super Cash to those people who purchased (which they can confidently do since they segmented that list). I predict it would pay dividends.

3. Customization

No two campaigns are created equal. Since people have opted into your emails, you have the advantage of an attentive audience. Don’t abuse that. Make sure you’re sending emails that your customers WANT to receive.

I love receiving emails from Chewy. Since I purchase from them frequently, they know I own a dog, not a cat. I only receive promotional emails regarding canine products, which makes me feel like they know me. They aren't bothering me with cat toys and cat food. That’s table stakes in 2021.

There are so many different types of email campaigns: Nurture campaigns help guide potential buyers down the sales funnel toward their purchase; promotional emails work well for customers who have already purchased (re: Old Navy’s jean example); and exclusive offers work to help retain memberships and subscriptions.

These are just three examples, and they’re three entirely different people: One is a prospective customer, one is warming up to your brand, and one is a loyal fan. You’d speak to each one differently if they walked into your store, so make sure you treat their inboxes the same way.

As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Moxie. We’re almost as passionate about email marketing as we are about helping your business thrive!