Fake News and Fuzzy Campaign ROI Among Top Drivers for Email Resurgence

Dave Charest
by Dave Charest 17 Feb, 2017
As consumers get frustrated with chaotic news feeds filled with unreliable sources and time-starved marketers struggle to show the business impact of social engagements, both are turning to email to get the information they need. When consumers find sources of information they trust, signing up for an email newsletter allows them to get the information they want directly. This is good news for marketers as email marketing is still a powerful tool. 

Here are three reasons email still makes sense for small business marketers.

1. Email delivers the highest ROI of any marketing channel. 

In the most recent eMarketer report on the topic, "Email Marketing's Benchmarks 2016: Relevancy, Frequency, Deliverability, and Mobility," email had a median ROI of 122 percent, which is more than four times higher than other marketing formats, including social media, direct mail, and paid search. 

Adding to this is a growing email user base. In 2016, there were 240.1 million email users in the U.S. and by 2020, that number is expected to grow to 258.9 million, according to eMarketer. In many ways, email marketing's triple digit return comes down to being an opt-in channel that allows you to engage customers one-on-one. And from the customer's point of view, there's something to be said for explicitly requesting content from a trusted source.  

2. Email is getting more sophisticated yet easier to use.

It's now easier than ever to create professional-looking emails that are designed to maximize engagement and drive actionable results. With a simple click-and-drag, you can add content such as RSVPs, polls, and "read more" calls to action that fit right into your email templates without needing to spend time formatting. This allows you to spend less time creating your email and more time engaging your customers and seeing the results of your work. Plus, email templates are now mobile responsive allowing them to adapt to the device they're being viewed on with no extra work on your part.

3. Transparency into campaign results. 

With email, there's no middleman determining where and when your message goes live and then filtering the results. Instead, you own the recipient list and the content, including what appears alongside it. You also know when customers opened the message and what they did with it. This allows you to make smarter decisions moving forward that actually impact your business.

That doesn't mean there aren't challenges.

Going forward, it's going to be even more challenging to stand out in the inbox considering the Radicati Group's "Email Statistics Report: 2015-2019" found that the average number of daily business emails sent/received in 2016 was 116.4. It's anticipated that number will climb to 128.8 by 2019. On the consumer side of things, the average was 98.9 emails being sent/received daily in 2016 but that's likely to reach 117.7 by 2019.

While there's no lack of advice when it comes to writing catchy headlines and share-worthy content, here are little known tips about engaging your audience through email.

- Build small, targeted lists. It's easy to get caught up in the false belief that you need a massive subscriber base to make an impact. You'll see better results by building relationships and engaging your best customers. If customers aren't responding to your messages overtly or subtly, reach out to see if they still want to hear from you. If not, this frees you up to focus on those that do.

- Create niche content. One of the best things about focusing on customers that want to engage with your business is that you can create content that's tailored to their interests. The best way to do this is make a list of your favorite customers, reach out to them, and then create content that speaks directly to their needs. While your content will initially reach a smaller audience, this strategy can drive serious word-of-mouth.

- Make mobile a priority. More than half of your customers are reading your messages on a mobile device. Make it easy for them to take you up on the offer or register for your event with a simple one-step call to action built right into your email.  The battle for the inbox isn't new though it has certainly gone through changes over the years as new technologies came on the scene. Yet as digital marketing trends come and go, email continually proves to be the most cost effective and direct path to engaging customers one-on-one.

Dave Charest is senior manager, content and social media marketing at Constant Contact. Dave and his team make stuff that helps hundreds of thousands of small business owners do better marketing. For lots of great, free hints and tips, subscribe to the hints and tips blog.