Email Marketing: The Jason Bourne of Marketing Strategy

email marketing resurgence - email icon in the cross hairs on a aqua background with white text

For many years, we’ve been told that email marketing is dead—or, at the very least, on its way out. It makes one wonder who, exactly, is putting that message out there. Because nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we think there’s an email marketing resurgence!

In fact, an anonymous quote that one of my colleagues discovered captured email marketing’s place in the greater scope of marketing strategy: “Email marketing is like Jason Bourne. It will never die.”

If you’ve been receptive to the notion that email marketing should be dead, that it’s not an effective marketing tactic, there are plenty of facts to dispute it.

Death? Talk About an Email Marketing Resurgence

If anything, email marketing experienced a resurgence over the last few years. Specifically, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This occurred for a couple of reasons.

One, everything moved into the digital landscape at an accelerated pace. Companies needed to adapt to both online selling and online marketing. An in-store coupon was suddenly off the table. What better way to connect with customers and potential customers than through email?

Another opportunity arose from an increase in virtual events. B2B companies holding webinars or attending virtual trade shows turned to email marketing to communicate with attendees. Instead of sending out direct mail pieces, marketers had an inexpensive, on-demand option to connect with potential buyers. Of course, this strategy had been in the works prior to the pandemic—but the lockdown scenarios heightened its use.

The second factor was that people had more time to actually read emails. Think about someone who has a 45-minute commute each way to and from work. If they transitioned to working from home, that’s an extra 90 minutes in the day they could dedicate towards other activities.

Even as people returned to the office or resumed shopping at brick-and-mortar establishments, they remain engaged via email. Once a habit takes hold, it’s likely to stick. Hubspot reports that 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the past year. And, 37% of brands are increasing their email marketing budgets.

Top 5 Reasons for Email Marketing’s Staying Power

1) People Use Email

The data supports this! In 2021, there were 3.9 billion email users worldwide. We obviously don’t have 2022’s stats yet, but experts suggest that number will reach 4 billion (or more) by the end of the year and as many as 4.6 billion by 2025. Email spans all generations as well, from Baby Boomers to Generation Alpha (our newest/youngest generation). The messaging might be different per generation, but the vehicle remains the same.

Here are some more stats to consider:

  • 99% of email users check their inbox every day (some 20 times a day)
  • Of that 99%, 58% of consumers check their email inboxes first thing in the morning
  • Email serves as the top way U.S. consumers discover coupons from brands
  • Average time spent reading a consumer email is 10 seconds

2) Email’s ROI Can’t Be Beat

If you’re looking for the most bang for your marketing buck, it’s hard to deny email’s return on investment. The numbers vary per industry, but on average, every dollar spent on email marketing generates $36 in revenue. For some industries, it is much higher (e.g. travel, retail/ecommerce).

That one-dollar investment gets you a lot, too. Email marketing is inexpensive to implement into your greater marketing strategy. Much cheaper than direct mail, print advertising, or paid search. Even small companies that don’t have a robust marketing budget can use email marketing to their advantage. There are email marketing platforms that offer reasonable plans (some of them free).

3) Email Marketing Dominates Social Media

Crackerjack Marketing’s fearless leader, founder, and CEO Stephanie Schwab recently sent out an email to her base that talked about social media versus email in terms of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (the beloved 1990s movie). In the movie, the two young women are arguing over who is the “Mary” and who is the “Rhoda.” Meaning, which one is cuter or more desirable (Mary) versus the one with some smarts about her (Rhoda).

Social media often gets the buzz for being cute, fun, bubbly. Whereas email is “boring” or blasé. Coaches, consultants, and service providers tend to lean into social media—because they perceive it to be the best way to get in front of their customers and potential customers. It’s not. In fact, only a small percentage of your base is seeing your social media posts.

As mentioned above, email marketing gets incredible engagement rates. With social media, you’re broadcasting to a large, often-anonymous audience. Email is specific, personalized, and offers an opportunity to have one-to-one conversations with your customers and prospects.

4) Email Is (or Can Be) Immediately Effective

I want to talk about this benefit from a few different perspectives. “Immediacy” can mean on-demand access. Your email is in a person’s inbox for as long as it needs to be before they either open it and read it or delete it. (If you’re doing everything right, hopefully the third option is not that they’re sending it to spam.)

It can also mean instantaneous deployment. Once you hit send, it takes mere seconds to arrive in your database’s inboxes. This is where timing becomes important. There’s much research about the best times of day to deploy emails, but that also depends on one’s industry—as well as sub-categories of that industry.

For example, in the healthcare industry, an ER doctor working overnights might check emails in the morning at the end of her shift. A private practice physician may take their lunch break to catch up. Overall, though, research indicates that most people engage with emails between 9 a.m. and 12 noon. It might take a bit of trial and error, but that’s yet another reason why email marketing is so effective. It’s simple (and, again, inexpensive) to test. I have a whole blog about that!

Finally, immediacy comes in the form of mobile access. The latest data reports that more people read emails on their mobile devices than on their desktop. Clearly, you’re more likely to have your smartphone in your hand than even a laptop.

5) Email Marketing Fosters Relationships

The massive push for brands to improve customer experience, based on consumers’ demand for it, has given email marketing a pedestal to stand on. How else can you achieve the level of personalization email offers—other than going old-school telemarketing and getting people on the phone?

To be clear, “personalization” doesn’t mean “infatuation.” You want to utilize just the right amount of personalized tactics to make people feel special, but not creeped out. It could be as simple as including their first name in your email subject line. For instance, “Hey Allison, we thought you might like this article.”

That’s also the beauty of using email marketing to nurture your customers and prospects. Not every email should be about promoting your business or asking people to buy from you. In fact, outside of retail/commerce, very few emails should skew that way. Be generous with information, insights, and expertise, and people will begin to trust you and think of you as a thought leader.

Keep Kickin’, Email

I could go on and on about email marketing’s accolades. But my main objective is to help anyone questioning email’s value better understand just why it’s so impactful. It truly is the Jason Bourne of marketing strategy. If I’m ever proven wrong, I will be very, very surprised.

Email Marketing Resurgence - Pinterest sized image of a white email icon in orange cross hairs on an aqua background. Orange header text on a white background.

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Sylvia Anderson

Sylvia fashions herself a “content chameleon,” having dipped her toe (okay, whole leg) in the pools of various genres and mediums. Her ability to adapt her voice to copywriting, social media, screenwriting, non-fiction children’s books, blogging, podcasting, and poetry makes her a “Jane of All Trades” when it comes to the content scope. Raised on a dairy farm in rural Minnesota, Sylvia has since become an official Angeleno–residing in Los Angeles, CA for the last 15 years–where she *attempts* to stay cool (but enjoys being able to run outside nearly every day). When she’s not writing, running, or watching sports, she delights in the company of her two fur baby kitties, Mac and Cam.