Is Email Marketing Dead?

No. Email marketing is not dead in 2020.

But the way you do it is on life support. I assume this because you are here.

Maybe you’ve seen a decline in your results. Or heard a guru pronounce the sad news. Or you’ve been intrigued with other list building channels, and want an excuse to shift your efforts to that platform.

Do what you need to do. Diversify your audience building efforts. Build active campaigns on multiple channels. That’s smart. But, don’t believe that email marketing is dead. It’s not. And it won’t be for a long time …

Unless you suck. 

You have to do it right. It’s definitely more difficult now. But, the beauty is, the steps to improve your email marketing, will also improve your business.

Open rates will improve. You will attract clicks. Recipients will whitelist you. The SPAM filters will knock out your competitors, leaving you still standing.

You will not be banished to promotional tab purgatory.

You may not have the shear numbers of subscribers as in the golden age of email, but that’s okay. Most of them were probably ignoring you anyway. In this New Age of email relevancy, you’ll have people impatient to get your next send.

You do not want to bail on email yet. There’s a lot of fruit to be picked. It may not be the low hanging fruit of the 90s, but there’s still sweet goodness on those trees. You just have to work a little harder, but isn’t that always the case with marketing tools and technology?

Eventually, everybody catches on and it gets more competitive. Or as Gary Vee likes to say, “marketers ruin everything.”

Ask yourself …

Do you still use email?

Do you still subscribe to email lists?

Do you still give your email in exchange for free resources?

You probably do.

Yes, some people prefer other channels, and there may be hardcore people that only connect with companies communicating through Facebook Messenger or whatever, but there are millions and millions of people still using email. They prefer it.

Go ahead, take some time and figure out how to build lists on other channels. Collect Messenger sub​​​​scribers. Build up that pixel so you can remarket like crazy, but don’t abandon email. It’s way too early for that.

Donald Miller, StoryBrand founder, still generates most of his business through email. He has a 7 Principle system. Principle number 5 says: “Customers do not take action unless they are challenged to take action.”

He suggests two types of calls to action on your home page: direct and transitional. Direct asks for the sale right there. Transitional is for folks not quite ready to take the leap. And, you guessed it, he says offering a free resource in exchange for an email address is still the best tactic.

Email Stats and Stuff

email statistics

All the stats below are from a great February 2019 post from Opt​​​​inMonster, unless otherwise noted.

  • The number of emails sent continues to rise. In 2018 there were 281 billions emails sent per day. That number is expected to rise to 333 billion in 2023.
  • 85% of adults in the U.S. use email. And shockingly, for some, 78% of teenagers use email despite the pervasiveness of social messaging apps.
  • 99% of email users check email every day. Some up to 20 times per day.
  • There was a 98.3% deliverability rate in 2017.

People still have email addresses and they use them a lot. It’s not going away any time soon. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t ignore or unsubscribe from your stuff.

53% of consumers say they get too many irrelevant emails from brands. This is where stuff starts to slip. This is where the noise can drown you out, make your open rates and Clickthrough Rates (CTRs) drop off a cliff, and lead you to declare from the soapbox: email marketing is dead.

If you don’t want to put in the work, then, yes, you’re right, move on to the next shiny object and see if it will fix your customer communication problems.

It won’t. If you’re not willing to do the heavy lifting necessary to make email work for you, then your business has fundamental flaws. Good email marketing walks hand-in-hand with good business practices, and the best marketing.

Are You Basically a Spammer?

Spam Emailer

You’ve heard of churn and burn. That’s what spammers do. They find a loophole or a tactic that works today. They exploit it, and hope, through economies of scale, that they can get a few suckers to bite on their offers. It works. They make money, but inevitably the loophole closes, so they burn the campaign and move to the next thing. 

Makes sense. They can’t build sustainable businesses and long term customer relationships pushing dodgy products with shady tactics.

You’re only one degree removed from a spammer if you can’t cut through the email noise with your marketing. You may have legit products, but if you’re churning out half-assed emails to promote them, you’re not serving your business or customer well. If this product truly meets a need, solves a problem, enhances lives, then it’s your duty to figure out the marketing and convince these folks to shell out the money.

Take Your Email Marketing to the Next Level

That’s where you need to take it to the next level to insure you’re getting your most desired outcome from your email efforts.

Hopefully, at the end of the day you’re trying to sell something.

Being a “go to” for important info in your industry is cool. Nurturing people with tips to help them in their daily lives is magnanimous. But, it better lead to a money exchange eventually. Or what’s the point?

You doing all this work for good vibes?

Some stats to excite and scare you:

  • 95% of professionals use email.
  • 17.3% of emails sent are classified as SPAM. Happens to the best of us, but there are proactive measures to take to keep this to a minimum.
  • 38% of marketers say only some of their emails are relevant.
  • 9% of marketers were confident that all their emails were relevant.

Do not be part of the 38% that say only some of their emails are relevant! If you’re getting ready to hit that send button, and think to yourself, “you know, this email offers no value to my target market,” then stop.

Dump that email. Start over. Write something relevant, helpful, or persuasive. 

Here are some ideas for staying on the straight and narrow with your email marketing, giving you a better chance of being relevant and developing a lasting bond with your readers.

Develop a Good Sender Reputation and Stay Out of the SPAM Filters 

If you’re running a dedicated IP make sure you build up the number of emails sent slowly.

Also, you’ll build a better reputation with ISPs if you get recipients to reply to your emails every once in a while, particularly within the first few emails of a new subscriber.

Always require double opt-in.

Get more sender reputation tips

Tell Your Recipients to Whitelist You

As soon as someone opts in they should be reminded to whitelist you. They signed up so you have momentum. They want your email, so tell them to take a quick action to make sure they don’t miss any. 

Make Sure Your Messages Are Targeted

It really helps to have a specific niche so you know what they need, and can serve them well. It’s much easier to speak the language of a single niche rather than trying to connect with a broad audience. Hit their pain points and find the right solutions. If you’re doing that correctly, you’re not going to be reported as SPAM.

Be Polarizing

Make sure you’re pissing people off. Be divisive. Have a strong point of view. Do this prior to asking for the opt-in and you will filter out haters before they end up on your list. If they don’t receive your emails they can’t maliciously report you for SPAM because of ideological or philosophical differences. 

And, being yourself will strengthen the bond with your tribe. They will continue to open and interact with your emails.

Set Expectations

ben settle email subscription filter

Ben Settle won’t even let you sign up for his list unless you check the box that says you understand you will be receiving daily emails.

He wants people hungry for his information. He sets up barriers. He knows if people jump through a few hoops, they’re truly interested in his stuff and will be much less likely to unsubscribe, or ignore, or report him as SPAM.

This is a good move, even if it’s contrary to the prevailing notion that you need to remove all friction in your list building efforts.

Deliver Value

You can send pure pitches “the product has launched” or “save money today only” emails, but you have to set them up with relationship building emails. You have to earn the attention with emails full of no strings attached value.

Be Entertaining and Helpful

You will get better open rates and CTRs if you entertain and help people. And, if they are engaging with your emails, you get a better reputation score, which improves deliverability.

Storytelling is a great way to entertain and grab attention.

Use cliffhangers and open loops to make them open up the next email. Storytelling is an art. Storytelling in marketing is powerful. Have you ever had people beg you to hurry up and send them your next marketing email?

Ruthlessly Cull Your List

Be upfront with your subscribers. Tell them you will remove them from the list if they don’t open emails and click the links. Then, actually follow up on that. The better your open rates and CTRs, the less likely you will be penalized by ISPs. 

Some marketers send a warning email to inactives telling them that they haven’t interacted with an email for a while, and that they need to click on a link or they will be removed from the list.

Have Your Favorite A-List Marketers Stopped Building Email Lists?

Ask yourself. What are the best digital marketers in the business doing? 

Not necessarily what they are saying.

Sometimes to sell more stuff you have to promote new and shiny, but if you can see through the master-level sales propaganda and pitches, and simply look at what they’re doing, what do you learn?

Spoiler: Email marketing is not dead. They’re all still using it.

Examples …

Russell Brunson and Clickfunnels

Clickfunnels home page quiz

What do you think happens when you take the quiz to determine what type of marketer you are on the Clickfunnels home page?

What happens when you sign up for a 14-day free trial?

They grab your email and they send a lot of emails to get you onboarded and indoctrinate you into the cult – I mean brand.

Here’s another example …

affiliate bootcamp email sign up

The Affiliate Bootcamp. Good course on affiliate marketing. Delivers solid basics. However, they recommend starting with Facebook ads promoting the Clickfunnels affiliate program. 

Uh, have you seen how many ads Clickfunnels runs on Facebook? Good luck cutting through that noise to get your ad seen above the actual CLICKFUNNELS PROMOTION and the thousands of other people promoting the same thing. 

Anyway, what happens when you click the “Join the 100 Day Challenge (Free) Right Now” button. That’s right, they ask for your email address. Granted, it’s administrative, because they need to send you login information, but guess what else …

They just got a lead for their products, and they are going to email you (… a lot). That, my friend, is what you call email marketing.

Gary Vaynerchuk is All About Brand, But He’s Still Collecting Email Addresses

Gary Vee! He’s all about branding and putting content out there. Creating connections. Daily activity on social media platforms. But, guess what, he’s still building a list with an eNewsletter subscription.

Vaynerchuk enewsletter subscription

In fact, his Hustler’s Digest Monday email subscription offer is currently the first call to action on his home page (well besides the Empathy Wines link on the very top of the page).

Four years ago he wrote “Email Marketing is Not Dead, Here’s Why.” Apparently, he still believes it. His points were solid back then. Even if the open rates aren’t as crazy good as the late 90s, there’s still enough action to make it worthwhile. Email is still viable, so do not ignore it.

He says you have to promise big value at the point of subscription and then deliver … repeatedly.

Yes, email might die eventually, but it’s still going strong today. So, take advantage.

Surely Larry Kim – Mr. MobileMonkey Facebook Messenger Software Startup – Isn’t Doing Email

Correct. He’s totally just getting Facebook Messenger subscribers and communicating with prospects and customers that way.

Just kidding.

He’d be really screwed if that was the case, since Facebook shut down his Messenger account a while back. I’m pretty sure it’s back up now. But, these things are tenuous.

Want to know how I know this? Because he emailed is list (I’m subscribed) to transparently relate the story of Facebook shutting him down.

By the way, if you’re interested in Facebook Messenger marketing, you should be following Larry. That post about getting shut down is absolute gold with fantastic reflections on where he made mistakes, and what you should avoid.

Digital Marketer Wants Your Email Address Immediately

Digital Marketer Join Now Via Email

Digital Marketer makes an offer to subscribe for a free account to receive tools and training. It’s above the fold on the home page. 

They ask for your email address.

You know who Ryan Deiss is. Right? Dude is an OG in digital marketing. Digital Marketer is killing it as a thought leader in the space. And, of course, their Traffic & Conversion Summit is the biggest and baddest digital marketing conference on the planet.

They make collecting an email address priority number one. Good to know.

Curt Maly is a Social Media Marketing Baller

Curt Maly page takeover

What happens when you visit Curt’s blog over at humbly named, Social Media Ad Genius? He takes over your entire frickin’ screen with a lead magnet offer in exchange for an email address.

He wants to share all his tips for killing it with Facebook marketing, and to eventually, sell his membership, but first things first … he wants you on his email list.

curt maly exit overlay

And, if you decide to leave his site, he presents an exit overlay with an eNewsletter subscription offer. This is his last ditch attempt to engage. It’s not a Messenger sign up or SMS pitch. It’s an eNewsletter. 

Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method is Heavily Dependent on Email Communication

Ryan Levesque is THE GUY when it comes to using quizzes and surveys to discover exactly what your target market’s pain points and needs are and what products and services they’re willing to pay for. 

It’s a great methodology and can really help guide your business efforts with pinpoint accuracy. His book on the topic is excellent: Ask.

A prerequisite for launching a quiz campaign is an email list of people in the market you’re trying to learn more about. 

If you don’t have one, he suggests offering a lead magnet in exchange for taking the initial quiz, which, lo and behold, collects an email address.

His system also highly recommends segmentation. This is a classic email marketing strategy, which enables you to communicate with your list in even more precise language about issues you know they’re interested in because you just quizzed them.

Good stuff. Email driven.

More Reasons Email is Still Awesome

Owned media. You own the list unlike social channels who can pull you down at any time for virtually any reason.

Emails hits the inbox and remains there, rather than social media, which is a river of content rushing by while you pray your people saw your stuff.

Email marketing still kicks social media’s butt for ROI.

In this DMA UK report on the state of email in 2018, they reported that 50% of organizations can now properly attribute ROI to email campaigns. Those that tracked earned an average of £32.28 for every pound spent, which was a healthy increase over the £30.03 reported in 2016. This despite the roll out of GDPR, which increased the difficulty level by installing strict privacy guidelines for email collection and use in the European Union.

And don’t forget, there’s a one page site dedicated to making sure you know that Email is Not Dead with 40+ links to articles that help support that hypothesis. The guy who put that site together, Jordie Van Rijn, a self proclaimed email marketing specialist, also wrote this email prediction post for 2020.

It’s 7,412 words long. I mean, the dude doesn’t seem crazy. No sane person would put together a post that massive if there was even a hint of email going down in flames in the near future. Am I right?

Recommended Resources

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Image CreditsCoffin by carolynabooth | Colorful chart by Gerd Altmann | Junk Mail by cattu | Recommended Resources Thumbs Up by John Hain

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