The secret to email marketing? Send more email

EmailbigstockThere is a popular myth, created by the media, of the ‘inbox overload’ that would have marketers believe consumers are constantly worried and deeply affected by the hundreds of emails in their inbox.  This has led some marketers to send fewer emails and to try to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time in pursuit of higher open rates.  However, this strategy ignores the effectiveness of email as a brand recognition tool, in addition to being an engagement channel.

The myth of ‘inbox overload’
The idea that consumers are constantly worried by hundreds of emails in their inbox completely ignores two key points.  Firstly, nobody gets that many emails to their personal email address and studies that claim otherwise invariably include a work email account, which will always skew the results towards unwanted email.  Second, most people simply don’t worry about their inboxes in that way, whether they have 1 or 100 unread emails – when was the last time you were at a party and your friend said they were having a terrible day because they have 100 unread emails in their personal inbox?

According to research from Merkle, three quarters of consumers (74%) actually prefer to receive commercial communications via email over any other channel.  Whether it’s for personal or commercial messages, email remains at the heart of consumers’ digital lives.  When compared to all other communications channels, such as social media, email still beats every single one in terms of audience and engagement. Why? Because email subscribers have made a purchase or a decision to subscribe.

Many marketers are still pursuing the Holy Trinity of email – segmentation, timeliness, and relevance – which have their roots in traditional direct marketing and still have their place.  However, email should no longer be viewed simply as a direct marketing tool, but instead as a broadcast channel that also remains at the heart of many consumers’ daily lives.  Instead of focusing on messaging for the subscribers that open and click the email, marketers need to acknowledge that the subject line has a brand impression on everyone that received the email.

Can less be more?
To have long-term success brands need to ensure they are consistently reminding consumers about their brand just as they would across any other broadcast marketing channel.  If TV airtime was free, media buyers would not advertise less, they would book as much time as possible. So why do brands believe that trying to get more return from fewer, highly targeted emails is the most successful approach? The cost of sending to a smaller audience in potential lost sales far exceeds the incremental cost and effort required to send to the whole audience.

Brands need to get past the idea that consumers should engage with every email they receive  from a brand and the idea that consumers are overloaded by email.  Consumers won’t engage with an email they don’t receive, and they won’t remember a brand name they don’t see regularly.  Email remains one of the most effective consumer engagement and brand recognition channels, so marketers must stop trying to send less email and wake up to the opportunity to send more.

Dela Quist is founder and CEO at Alchemy Worx

  • Peter McCormack

    Sorry fella, you are talking absolute bollocks! Comparing to TV and saying if it was free they would book as much as possible ignores the base costs. Email is not free – broadcast costs are low but good creative and template setup / broadcast isn’t.

    The statistic from Merkle is not even relevant to your point, you are arguing that nobody complains about too many emails (which by the way they do) and then quoting a statistic about communication channel preference. They are completely different points.

    Email is a great channel but the attitude of just sending more emails is utter garbage and will definitely damage engagement and list quality. Just look at what has happened to the likes of Groupon and Living Social.

    Crap advice #ignore!

  • Ptrinder64

    I think relevance is still key, and marketers shouldn’t blithely be sending out emails willy nilly. If you’ve not got something relevant to say, why say it?

    As with most marketing tools nowadays, I feel that we should stop looking at email as a standalone tool and think more of it as an essential part of a lead nurturing process. It’s not just about sending lots of emails to raise awareness, it’s about using all the tools in the marketers toolbox.

  • Gerry White

    I completely agree with the other comments – if I get too many from one sender it causes blindness to it – daily emails are either ignored or unsubscribed – I think it is quality over quantity …

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  • Ed Williams

    While I agree that email marketing can be used for brand recognition, I find the majority of the points made above quite bizarre.

    With TVCs, the consumers are waiting for the content either side of the break…there is something of value there that they want…the TVC is a necessary evil they have to sit through in order to be rewarded with the TV show. Let’s face it, if there was an ‘unsubscribe’ link for TVCs (such as the TiVo), many, many people would unsubscribe from most TVCs.

    The article above seems to forget that we have a choice with email marketing – we can unsubscribe, and personally, I have done many, many times if my Inbox is being pounded by a brand that is sending irrelevant content to me…its all about the content!

    Its a great attempt to boost your business though Dela!