In the first part of our interview series, we asked the experts to tell us about Apple Mail Privacy Protection, the future of messengers, and trending TikTok and Reels. In this article, we'll also answer the never-ending question: is email dead?
A few months ago we came up with an idea to interview the leading marketing experts (Avengers Assemble!) and discuss the future of email marketing. As a result, we had 9 interviews, each lasting 1 hour, gathered 14 pages of info from the experts, and turned them into 4 articles: there, we'll talk about the death of email (yes, again), data trends, UX design, and the one marketing metric that matters.
Let's start with the funeral of email that has become traditional recently… Or is it too early to say that email is dead?
The Future of Email Marketing: Why Email Is More Alive Than Dead
Rumors about the death of email have become an annual tradition: if you open any TOP MARKETING TRENDS 20XX article, there's a 99,9% probability that you'll see something like "give up on email marketing, nobody needs it anymore" which is not exactly true. According to Hubspot, every email generates $42 while costing $1; in other words, the ROI of this channel is 4200%. Not bad for a deadman, is it?
Will Email Be Taken Down by Innovations?
What Is Happening Now
Not only authors of blog articles try to bury email. In summer 2021, Apple announced iCloud Private Relay, which means the following:
- now all the user data (location, timezone, IP, etc.) are encrypted and cannot be analyzed;
- Open Rate doesn't matter anymore: now all the emails that get into iCloud inboxes open automatically.
Learn more about this feature and how the marketing community responded to it in our article: Apple Mail Privacy Protection: What's Next?
How the Market Reacted
Of course, Open Rate is dead on iCloud only. However, marketers are worried about the future of email marketing when it comes to other mailbox providers: as Ivan Ilin, a co-founder of EmailSoldiers, said, "Apple is a company that can change people's patterns of behavior". Users are fascinated by slogans like "you have a right to control your data used by marketers". We'll talk more about people's right to control their data in another article. Now, we're interested in the community's opinions on the significance of Open Rate.
As time went by, we published more and more types of content: articles, case studies, newsletters, whitepapers, posts on social media. It allows us to secure ourselves a spot in the media space, making sure we find our audience. Advertising isn't our style — there's no use in spending so much money on gaining leads who don't really know why they're here. They just click on the ads, having no idea what we do. That's why we decided to promote our agency by creating a stir in the infosphere.
When the news came, the whole community was screaming. However, just as always, we managed to adapt to these changes in time and now we focus on the conversion rate.
Omnisend launched the #OpensAreDead project, the whole marketing community started talking about the Pixelgeddon, and we couldn't help but give in to fear. Marketers' responses were even more interesting than the feature itself: according to Dr. Matthew Dunn (Ph.D., CEO of Campaign Genius), 2-3 years ago nobody cared about "spy" pixels. However, when Apple raised this topic and spiced it up with the security issue, users got worried about data privacy. It started just like this, with one Apple event. The announcement of iCloud Private Relay did something that experts couldn't do for years — it showed people that opens are not crucial.
Why Opens Are Not Important
Open Rate has never been a crucially important metric. It just shows that a user has received an email and opened it. Have they interacted with the email content? Have they read it or just looked through it? Actually, they might have closed it right after they opened it. Open Rate won't answer any of these questions. This metric depersonalizes the users. Do you want to improve the performance of your emails, do your job more effectively, and achieve your goals? Focus on people. Remember that subscribers come first. Just think about it: it was Apple who made the community remember that users are not mere digits and that marketers should work on the content quality. They should strive to increase conversions, deliverability, engagement, but not opens.
What matters is your conversions, your goals, your strategy. These are the things you should react to, not Apple's or Google's decisions. You need measurable rates and metrics, opens are not measurable.
Open rates will lose their influence only if other ISPs come along and follow Apple's example. I hope that people will put less value on them and will stop making business decisions based on open rates.
Email Marketing VS Messengers
There's been talk that one day messengers will defeat email. It sounds reasonable enough: they are faster and more convenient, people use them more often than check email. After all, it's 2021 — we're more used to short texts than bulky emails. However, the devil is in the details, as always. Here's why marketing specialists don't trust messengers completely:
- This is an unexplored territory. Messengers are still evolving and changing, meaning that today's hit probably won't work in a year. Long-term planning is hard in this case. Apart from that, messengers aren't reliable because of the never-ending experiments with form and content.
- Email is more practical. Messengers and email are from completely different leagues. The latter took the boring job that no one wanted.
You are going to replace email? Are you ready to do its job? Do you have the resources and capacity to do it? Emails are fine with the job they do, and you don't need to replace a pen and paper.
1. Messengers are more user-friendly
The cons are mostly important for marketers, but are they the same for users? We need to see why they find messenger marketing appealing. Do you still want to convince people their campaign doesn't need messengers? Maybe you should try looking at the messengers from their point of view and find counterarguments (who knows, you may even change your mind along the way). There's no use in being a big baby about it and turning a deaf ear to everything.
It's crucial to understand the preferences of your audience. Give them a choice: if you want to get updates by email, just share your address with us. You want to get updates on WhatsApp? Just give us your phone number.
2. You risk being left behind if you ignore the latest trends
Don't be skeptical about trends. If they drive traffic and money, why not give them a go? You can always go back to being a square.
New things always attract our attention — it's in our nature. Then we adapt to the new tool making it a part of our routine. Our agency does messenger marketing because it's become an essential service: we work with pushes and SMS, why should we ignore messengers?
Don't be afraid to tap into several channels. By focusing only on email or only on messengers you may lose a substantial part of your audience. Keep your audience in mind and let them decide what they need. Flexibility is for the cool guys.
Email Marketing VS Social Media
Najee Bartley, Expert Email Developer, CTO of BBVisions Multimedia points that social media is the current leader in bringing revenue.
Still, social media has a drawback that can be a gamechanger: as any other service owned by a private company, a social platform may shut down sooner or later resulting in tons of lost information. Does it matter that we should ignore the trending services because they won't stick around for long? No, and here's why.
- First of all, you should keep in mind that each communication channel has its audience. The more channels there are, the bigger the reach is; teens are on TikTok or Instagram, while their moms are on Facebook. Apart from that, every channel is meant for a specific activity. While you can promote a credit card on TikTok by posting a funny video, on Facebook you'll need to post a short USP using banners. This way, you'll reach two different audiences that can be your potential clients.
- Secondly, prioritizing one channel is reasonable enough for a small business (let's say, a nail salon in Atlanta), but it can be fatal for a large business. It's important to build CRM communications with the clients in such a way that is relevant and comfortable for them. As always, any business should be client-oriented leaving them with a number of options to choose from. Implement end-to-end analytics to track the conversion rate of every channel. In the end, it all comes back to people and you can't make them leave the channel they're used to only because it doesn't work for you.
- Thirdly, Gen Z picks up new services fast (it can be an online shop, delivery, or a social platform where you post short videos). If you think there's nothing you could do with this audience now, remember that they can be your potential clients in 5 years or so. Giving up on this audience is pretty shortsighted, to say the least. Plan for the future and start fostering their loyalty now. You need to be able to communicate with all segments of audiences, notwithstanding their demographics, gender identity, or views.
Speaking of revenue, email has a couple of aces up its sleeve. Even though the second place is taken by websites and blogs, email is still in the top 3. Emails don't cost much to build, but they bring a lot of revenue encouraging B2B and B2C brands to continue utilizing this channel.
Every opened email, on average, brings in $47
The list of advantages of email marketing in 2022 doesn't stop here - there are at least two more benefits to mention:
- The older generations aren't as enthusiastic about new things as the younger ones
The older audience is less likely to use SMS or messengers to respond as they are less mobile-oriented and don't like doing it on a small screen. The younger group is certainly involved in it much more.
- Email has proven its efficiency ever since it appeared
Platforms like TikTok definitely offer a wider functionality. You'd think the young and robust TikTok could easily beat the good old email, but here's the thing: it's not a sprint — it's a marathon where endurance is the key. There are dozens of apps that come and go, while email has been around for more than 25 years. Another thing that makes email stand out is the fact that it's not going anywhere. Why? Because it performs the dull functions it was designed to perform. Maybe we'll eventually come back to the initial state of data storage. The circle of life, you know.
Social media and email may have something in common but they are not the same. We need to diversify the world of content.
This quote, as the whole text, leads us to the following:
Email Is Not Dead in 2022
Every year marketers say it's going to be the last one for email, but the channel's still going strong and it seems to keep its position as a useful marketing tool for years to come. Every week we see someone shoot their shot at defeating email, but half of them overshoot themselves. Even such business giants as Apple can't affect the way the channel functions, as email trends adapt to the new conditions. Here's what you should consider to ensure the bright future of your email marketing:
- Open rate isn't a metric you should base serious business decisions upon. It's only a benchmark.
- Messengers, as any other tool, need some time to become more stable and secure a spot in their own niche. It's too soon to say what's in store for them.
- Don't go to extremes when it comes to trends: there's no point in jumping on the bandwagon, as well as in being skeptical about every new thing. Remember, omnichannel marketing and being open to new things is what makes us stronger, but don't forget about your roots.
- Last, but certainly not least, focus on people. Analyze your audience, connect and communicate with them, and reach back to your clients and users. There won't be sweet numbers without people who want to engage with you and your content. Make people your top-priority metric (how cheesy).
Audience decides what channel to use, not marketers. We tend to think of people as data and opens and clicks and conversions, and at that point we almost lose that humanity of it.
Email in Numbers: Is Email Marketing Profitable?
Let's summarize everything said about the future of email marketing: as long as we're alive, email won't die. As long as humanity exists, marketers will continue to do their thing. Do you want your company to profit from email marketing? Contact us and we'll help you achieve your goals.