This question was asked recently at LinkedIn: “Is email marketing dead?” How many times have I heard that before or, even worse, the pronouncement of its demise? The first time I recall hearing the statement was at Blog Business Summit in 2005 when Chris Pirillo made it during a session. (He later recanted the statement, to some extent at least.)
Certainly, there have been numerous challengers to email marketing’s throne, not the least of which is social media. However, email is still a vibrant, growing medium that has a future for a number of reasons.
Reason #1: Email Sending Platform Vendors
There are way too many email marketing platform providers for this industry to die. Do you think companies like Vertical Response, Constant Contact, Lyris, MailChimp, Exact Target, Emma, iContact, Bronto, Blue Sky Factory and other such providers are going to simply lie down and let email marketing go the way of the albatross? Not for one minute!
Read this recent post from Bronto that speaks directly to the notion that email is dying: “Email marketing can co-exist with any marketing channel; more importantly, email can help leverage social media and vice versa … Consumers aren’t choosing one medium over the other; they are simply utilizing more mediums than ever before.”
Also, consider the fact of how many more email marketing platform providers there are now. The list above includes several newer industry participants, MailChimp, Emma, and Blue Sky Factory to name just a few.
Reason #2: Email is Ingrained in Our Marketing Psyche
Email has been around almost since the advent of the Internet. It’s a staple of the marketing milieu and one of the most commonly used forms. It’s still effective, both from a cost and conversion standpoint.
For example, according to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing generated an ROI of $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009. The expected figure for 2010 is $42.08.
Reason #3: Email and Social Media Can Work Together
For years, I taught that blogs and email are akin to a digital peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They are made for each other in terms of repurposing content and as complimentary channels by which brands can stay top of mind with their customer.
That’s true of other forms of social media as well. Consider that social networks like Facebook rely on email as a vital communication channel. Email notifications can be sent to everyone of a brand’s fans from their Fan Page, for example. These messages are not merely transactional in nature either, but often marketing-oriented.
While benign by comparison to more full-fledged platforms such as those listed above, the fact is email is there, baked right into a key piece of the largest, fastest-growing, most ubiquitous social network known to man.
Reason #4: Small Businesses Aren’t Using Email, But They Will
For all the organizations using email marketing effectively, many are not, especially small businesses.
That leaves room for a lot of opportunity, which is why email marketing platform providers such as Vertical Response and Constant Contact are mounting intensive marketing efforts to change that; small businesses are their bread and butter. (VR even has a Twitter channel devoted specifically to small business, @vr4smallbiz.)
Email marketing is not going anywhere but up in my opinion. It may no longer be the only channel by which marketer’s communicate with customers, but it’s certainly not dying. So, can we lay that argument to rest?