Is Email Dead? Or More Accurately Will Anyone Read Your Marketing Email?

EMAIL IS A TAD OLD SCHOOL

Is Email Dead? Welp, the last time I hung out in an email application with any regularity was early in 2007, and that was only because my father was very sick. I paid a ton of attention to my voicemails back then, too, and don’t get me started on voicemail, it is a disaster. 

My VM inbox is continuously filling up with calls from a Pennsylvania area code and the same recorded lady that sounds cringingly like former Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders. Fake Sarah Sanders from PA always says the same thing, “Hi, I see you inquired about one of our jobs on our website. Can you hear me okay?” 

And my email inbox isn’t that much better. These days I check email sporadically. Amazon orders, bank transfers, Duolingo reminders, and political donation pitches crowd for my attention. Decidedly uncool stuff.

COMPOSITE BY RAY HOUGHTON (ISTOCK)

SO, IS EMAIL DEAD FOR MARKETERS?

Is email dead? I would probably put it in the less resounding, “Imean-no(?)” category. There is still a lot of reason for users to check email (aside from my uncool examples) and according to one study there will be 4.2 billion email users by the end of 2022. For scale, that’s like, a billion more people currently on Facebook.

Yet…will your email get past spam filters to be opened, and will the user see you as a stuffy old geezer pushing less-cool shit, or be willing to give your pitch a shot?     

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

I would hope that in 2020 no company is making email their core marketing strategy. For one, we’re not hanging out in our email apps for very long. And there is a lot of competition in your inbox. Check your promotion tab (more on that later) or spam folder.

AOL EXISTED WHEN EMAIL WAS STILL COOL AND IT’S ALL THANKS TO BRITNEY SPEARS (AT LEAST FOR ME)

Yet, America Online email mailboxes still weren’t that cool a place and that was when email was decidedly much more awesome. How awesome? You could change your AOL preferences to have Britney Spears say, “you’ve got mail.” How frickin’ awesome is that? 

Even getting spam Viagra emails from creepy senders with handles like cheapV_I_A_G_R_A @suchandsuch.com was cool back then. I mean, it would trigger Britney Spears telling me I had an email.

It was sorta’ like in the Summer of 96 when I copped my first pager. I would have loved incessant pages from cheapV_I_A_G_R_A to hit me on my hitter and make me feel big-time (I got like, 3 pages that whole summer). 

I WOULD HAVE LOVED IT IF ANYONE HAD PAGED ME IN THE SUMMER OF 96

I know I’ve strayed from my point, here, but I have to point out that the original AOL voice guy was recently spotted driving for Uber, how 2010s is that? 

SO HOW COOL IS EMAIL, NOW?

According to a Hubspot Trend survey, only 31% of Millennials want to see brand content in the form of more emails. And folks over 45 want more emails (to the tune of 63% more); do with that what you will.

COMPOSITE BY RAY HOUGHTON (DEATH TO STOCK)

Remember, in the 00s, when Barbara in your company’s HR Department, kept sending around emails with that goddamn floral background? And everyone wanted to know how she was doing it because “it is sooo coool.”

It was not cool, Barbara, and I could barely read your email. In fact, Barbara killed email’s coolness, like 20 years ago. So if anyone asks, “Is email dead?” You can say well, “maybe not, but Barbara certainly tried her hardest to kill it.”

And coolness aside you still need to get your marketing email past those pesky spam filters and into someone’s inbox. Emails could be redirected before anyone sees them. About one out of four email messages don’t make it to their intended inbox.

The NonProfit Times said that spam folders may have gobbled up “an average of almost $30,000” worth of nonprofit emails “despite expanding email [nonprofit] programs and list sizes.” And as spam filters get better, that number will probably be on the rise in the future.

OptinMonster

So what can you do? OptinMonster has a quick and helpful breakdown of why you could be landing in spam folders and things you can do to get around them. Check it out.

EMAIL IS NOT DEAD (AT LEAST NOT FOR OFFICE COMMUNICATIONS)

It seems that every few months, someone announces that email is dead, has been dead for quite some time, or will die soon.” Wrote Mathilde Collin for Fast Company on email in the workplace. The reality is “email is broken and inefficient [yet] remains critical for businesses and is far from dead.”  

“It seems that every few months, someone announces that email is dead, has been dead for quite some time, or will die soon.”

Mathilde Collin (2019)

There are tons of reasons for tons for people to be monitoring their inboxes, especially at work. And that’s a good opening for any email marketing aficionado.

COMPOSITE BY RAY HOUGHTON (DEATH TO STOCK)

Also, you know what else Millennials seem to dislike? Phone calls. They hate talking on the phone, and as such, the phone app is something like the fifth-most-used app on their phones. 

Ask a Millennial who’d they rather with a phone call or email. I’m pretty sure I know the answer…

EMAIL: CALLS YOU OUT SICK WITHOUT YOU HAVING TO PLAY DEAD

Email can replace the phone for one of the most critical communications you can make in your life. The one where, on the phone, you have to conjure up a half-dead imitation. Calling out sick.

Email can replace the phone for one of the most critical communications you can make in your life. The one where, on the phone you, have to conjure up a half-dead imitation. Calling out sick. via @thereelray https://thereelray.com/2019/12/31/is-email-dead

Email is also great for family affairs, hunting new employment, and school schedules. All of these can be pushed to an email address. Slack, Facebook, LinkedIn? Not so much. You try “calling out sick” on LinkedIn.

And so, while individuals are handling essential tasks in their personal or business inboxes, there is a chance for businesses to reach them while they are there.  

SO, EMAIL IS STILL PRETTY RELEVANT

Email marketing could, however, be improved. There is a general email etiquette one should be aware of, or “deadly email sins,” as Forbes calls it. These deadly email sins contain some no brainers, like irrelevant emails for customers. You’re not going to send some dude a fantastic deal on Preparation H just after he splurged on some banging stereo equipment, amirite? 

Forbes also warns against the “unexpected or unwanted sales emails [that] are more likely to be deleted immediately and create a negative association with [your] brand,” or too many emails from your business altogether. 

Might seem like no brainers, but If you’re worried about customer acquisition or retention, these are pretty vital points. So you’re going to want to think pretty hard about what the limits of your email pestering are.

THERE IS HOPE FOR MARKETING EMAILS

Gmail has a neat way of parsing emails. A feature they introduced in the last few years categorizes sales emails into a “Promotion” folder (and likewise social media notification emails into a “Social” folder).

I’m not entirely sure how the operation works or how emails are chosen for this folder (some marketing stuff still falls in my primary inbox). It could be something companies pay to be dropped into?

I’m guessing it was a move to help clean up the user’s inboxes. So users, themselves, wouldn’t have faced trying to delete a zillion Facebook notification emails, give up, and abandon the service.

If that was Google’s intention, they might have inadvertently helped marketers. Marketing emails shuffled into a promotion space feels less invasive as they do hanging out with an email from my Uncle passing around the newest family calendar. 

GMAIL’S CATCH-ALL PROMOTION TAB IS PRETTY COOL (GOOGLE)

Rather than users laboriously trying to purge marketing emails from a primary email folder, they are where they’re supposed to be. I even occasionally visit them in their natural habitat and check out the deals being offered.

TRY YOUR EMAIL MARKETING AFTER THE SALE

Another way to market via email is through post-purchase or post-stay messages, that are designed for retention or eliciting customer feedback. 

One such study on post-stay messaging for hotels found that emails featuring “personalization and financial features” could “effectively be positioned to alter customer’s attitudinal and behavioral changes.”

REEL ‘EM BACK IN WITH EMAIL

Even though Instagram and other spaces are great for showing off an excellent new pair of kicks or limited edition comic book (or whatever you’re in to). Folks are going in and dropping these items into their shopping carts and then abandoning them two-thirds of the time.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking on the shopper’s part that they actually have the funds for another pair of Adidas. And as they are plugging in their shipping address and credit card number, it hits them; maybe I can’t afford those right now?

REEL EM BACK IN, MAN!

One Envelopes.com study showed that just sending out an email could get “customers who abandon a product page to return to the site and buy.” Their plan had the effect of cutting the “checkout abandonment rate by 40% in under two years resulting in a 65% increase in checkout conversions.”

That has to be a win for email, right? 

SO… EMAIL IS NOT DEAD?

I mean, in my estimation, email is not dead when it comes to marketing or anything else, really. 

It is also not a golden goose for initially reaching out to customers. When approached with the right strategy, email can complement a marketing strategy by filling in the gaps left by that attractive millennial influencer showing off your new CBD ointments on Instagram.

GET YOURSELF A BEACH INFLUENCER CBD OINTMENT STRATEGY. COMPOSITE BY RAY HOUGHTON (DEATH TO STOCK

Is email dead? Is email still cool? Do you know how the Gmail promotion tab works? Let me know below!

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