Email marketing is a powerful online marketing channel – here is why

If you have read A 6 step framework to think about your digital marketing strategy from Roy Morrison, blogger at Rise Africa Rise, and still feel confused about how to market your business in a digital economy then don’t despair.

In his latest blog post he explains why is email marketing a powerful online marketing channel and how to use it.

In the last decade the number of digital channels on which you can market your business has exploded. The opportunities include Facebook, Twitter, Google, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others. Making the right choice can be really, really hard. That is why this post aims to introduce you to the most powerful online marketing channel there is – Email.

Don’t believe it?

Clearly, Email is very powerful if you know how to leverage it’s marketing power. Let us take a comprehensive look at Email marketing and it’s powers:

The benefits of email

You own your audience

The benefits of email over other marketing channels are many. One of the most important ones is that you own your audience.

You can access your audience whenever you like.

You can create a series of automated emails to welcome new subscribers or onboard new customers. This can be a very effective way to engage your audience and build a relationship.

Let’s say you developed an app that helps mothers to monitor the health of their babies and children. With Email you can send a number of emails as part of a welcome series where you introduce your company, your values and how to navigate the app to get the best experience. This kind of personalized nurturing and education is much harder to do through social media channels for example.

To send those emails does not cost you anything except the fees of your monthly subscription where as with social media you will most likely have to pay if you want to reach the majority of your audience, because you do not own the access to your audience.

The fact that you own your audience is one of the best things about email. If Facebook, Snapchat or WhatsApp decide to put hurdles in your way to reach your customers (like dwindling organic reach to below 2% of your audience), there is nothing you can do about it. And if they decide to impose certain terms that you may feel uncomfortable with there is nothing you can do about it.

In this case, you do not own your audience. Others own it for you and you will have to pay to access them to achieve any significant impact.

Owning the access to your audience should be a major consideration when determining your digital marketing strategy and that is why email should rank high as a channel on which to focus on.

Affordable cost

But there are more reasons why email marketing should be the foundation of your digital marketing strategy.

If you look at the cost of email marketing software you will realize that it is very low cost. Most Email marketing software programmes cost somewhere between $9 – $15 per month unless you have complex needs in which case the cost is significantly higher depending on your exact needs. With Mailchimp you can even get started for free up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 sent emails. That is hard to beat.

The affordability of email is major factor as to why it is such a powerful online marketing channel. In comparison, pursuing a pay-per-click strategy would perhaps enable one to grow faster, but then you would also need to invest significantly more than with email marketing. If you do not know how to execute a pay-per-click strategy then pay-per-click can quickly eat up your financial resources. Pay-per-click marketing can easily cost thousands of dollars very fast.

With pay-per click you will need to pay every time somebody clicks on your ad. Even when a click only costs you $0.50 (and this is low) it can quickly add up to cost your business thousands of dollars depending on how much traffic you need.

The advantage of email is that once you have somebody’s email address you can reach out to them as often as you like (but be careful not to spam) without having to invest additional capital.

Comprehensive user tracking

Another great feature of email marketing that makes it hard to beat is the fact that you can track user engagement and behaviour fairly easily. Most email marketing come with this feature built-in and provides you with highly valuable data that you can use to build your business.

For example, in many email software programmes you get provided a lot of valuable data about your email subscribers. You can see where they are based and how often they engage with your emails. Any business, whether focused on impact or not, can use this data to segment their audience according to behaviour and other information.

This means that you can send different emails to different parts of your audience. You could, for instance, create special email series or promotions for your best customers or for those who are on your list but have not engaged with your emails for a while.

The options are really endless and as such email represents a great tool to have at your disposal when you want to grow not only your impact but also your revenue and profit.

If you compare this to Facebook or any of the other social media channels you realize how powerful this is. While Facebook has probably the most sophisticated audience targeting options available, no other channel beside email marketing allows you to segment your audience the way email does. No other channel allows you to get such rich data about the way your audience engages with your business online.

Or have you found an option on any of the social media channels where you send a tweet or Facebook update to only your most engaged members? Does any other channel give you the capability to tag a user with predefined attributes based on which you can then interact with that user?

That is why tracking capabilities and the insights you can derive from that is so important to growing your business. And it’s hard to beat email at this.

Return path

One of the great benefits about email is that once you have somebody’s email address you can always reach out to them and entice them to return to your website or app.

In comparison to pay-per-click, you do not have to pay again and again to get somebody to come to your website or app. If you do not have an email list then in order to get in front of potential customers you need to pay either to be visible in Google’s search result or to reach a bigger audience on one of the countless social media channels.

This will obviously increase your customer acquisition cost and reduce the customer’s lifetime value. With email you can always reach out to them if you have news to share, a new product or a special promotion and it does not cost you extra to spread the message.

After you have gone through all the trouble to acquire a customer, don’t make life harder than it needs to be. Make sure you capture their email address and provide high-quality content to keep them happy and engaged.

Mobile responsive

Mobile has not just taken over your life. It’s everybody’s life and counting. If you have any doubts about the growing importance of mobile check out this infographic by GSM:

In order to keep our customers, users and strategic partners on board we need to keep them engaged. Otherwise, they lose interest. And it is hard to beat email marketing at keeping users engaged with the ability to reach out to them through automation, promotions, specials or competitions.

Considering the undeniable importance of mobile it is crucial that your email marketing is mobile responsive. Luckily, most email marketing providers are mobile responsive nowadays.

The drawbacks of email

Like most things in life email has its advantages and disadvantages. Sadly, it is not perfect.

Here are some of the disadvantages of email:

Time

If email is your only digital marketing strategy to grow your audience then you will most likely require a very long time to grow the audience to any size of significance. For most business too long. In order for your email list to grow you need to drive traffic to your website or app through either Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Link-Building or some other ingenious strategy. In most cases, this takes time, patience and commitment.

Time is one of the big advantages of the Pay-for-click strategy (whether on Google or on one of the social media channels) compared to email, because you can buy traffic to your website which will increase the speed at which your email list can grow as the number of visitors will increase too. Of course, it will require a bigger investment than just email too.

That is why if you need to find customers fast relying solely on email marketing might not do the trick for you.

Spam

One of the big drawbacks of email is that it is closely associated with spam. This means a lot of people delete many emails without even having a proper look at them. It can be really hard to move past the spam perception that people have of email.

Inbox overload

Closely connected to the above, is that your inbox is overloaded. Mostly this applies all the time. And an important contributing factor to this are spam emails which provide no value whatsoever.

Or do you remember when the last time was that your inbox counted 0!!!! unread emails? Hardly.

Many emails just get deleted without ever being read. Most inboxes receive too many emails for a normal human being to handle. In order to avoid this, you will need to have a high-quality email marketing strategy in place.

Conclusion

The digital marketing landscape is forever evolving and changing fast. It is hard to keep up. This means that if you want to be successful you need to have a clearly defined yet adaptable digital marketing strategy.

Despite the fast changing landscape, Email should be the crown jewel in your digital marketing strategy for reasons that have been outlined in this post. It is hard to beat the effectiveness of email in driving revenue and growing your business.

Email is continuously adapting in tune with the wider digital marketing landscape as technology continues to evolve so making email the foundation of your digital marketing strategy will remain a wise choice for the foreseeable future.