The Staying Power of Email Marketing

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You would be forgiven for thinking of email marketing as somewhat dated and even “old-school” but it’s the digital channel that has stood the test of time. Well, at least since the mainstream adoption of email in the mid-1970s. In an age where the bells and whistles of social media and content marketing often steal the limelight, email marketing, it could be said, is the least glamorous toy in a digital marketer’s toolkit. Yet, whilst easily forgotten, the steady, enduring and reliable option is as important today as it was 10 years ago. Perhaps even more so.

Email benchmark metrics show that between 2015 and 2018 email open rates grew from 17.2% to 20.8%. Not only are more emails being read, but users are engaging with emails to a greater extent as well. During this same period, email click-through-rates grew from 1.9% to 2.4% and while those numbers might seem small, it’s important to remember that 281 billion emails were sent and received each and every day in 2018. That number is predicted to grow to 347 billion in 2022.


This is in stark contrast to Facebook. The social media heavyweight experienced a 1.9% decline in usage between 2017 and 2018. Not only had their user growth slowed but their users were spending less time on the platform. The finger may be pointed at the stampede of advertisers that flocked to the platform by the lure of ‘free’ reach and exposure, although the same could be said of email. Despite the transition from desktop to smartphone usage throughout this period, the ubiquity of the social network wasn’t enough to engage users.

What it did do however, was unlock opportunities for email marketers. All of a sudden, the more engaging creative formats supported by mobile helped to further embed the adoption and usage of email. Rich creative formats such as GIF’s, which aren’t supported on desktop, helped to capture engagement and supported the traditional longer form copy of email.

So why is this form of marketing continuing to thrive? In today’s privacy and data-driven world, consumers need to opt-in to receiving such communications from brands and businesses. Therefore email not only allows marketers to reach an already engaged audience, but one that’s expecting to hear from them. This then allows marketers to operate further down the sales funnel, driving customer loyalty and even advocacy. Or for those not focusing on conversion, formats such as email newsletters provide the opportunity to reach their existing database with news, updates and events. All of which can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of reaching and engaging such customers through other platforms.