Practical Ecommerce

Without Email Marketing, You’re Probably Losing Sales

When you send a well-done email-marketing message, it is like stepping on the gas pedal in a sports car. Things just start to go.

In fact, of all of the ways that a modern marketer can reach prospects and boost sales, email marketing is probably the most potent. This is especially true when the marketer does a good job of building the list, consistently provides valuable content, and takes advantage of segmentation, automation and personalization.

In fact, of all of the ways that a modern marketer can reach prospects and boost sales, email marketing is probably the most potent.

Email Marketing by the Numbers

Email marketing can generate as much as a ridiculous-sounding 4,300 percent return on investment , according to the 2013 Direct Marketing Association Statistical Fact Book. Put another way, if the Direct Marketing Association’s ROI figures are correct, for every $1 that a company invests in email marketing, it is reasonable to expect $43 back in sales.

Even if email marketing’s ROI has fallen by, say, 50 percent since the DMA’s 2013 fact book was published, you would still expect to receive $21.50 back per dollar invested, which far exceed the ROI for every other form of marketing that I’m aware of.

Even without data like this at their fingertips, marketers seem to understand just how powerful email marketing is. As example, in a 2014 survey, Econsultancy found that 68 percent of marketing professionals rated email as a “good” or “excellent” marketing vehicle.

Of the professionals surveyed, 22 percent said email marketing was “excellent” in terms of return on investment, beating out organic search engine optimization, which 20 percent of professionals rated as “excellent.” Content marketing came in at 16 percent, social media marketing at 7 percent, and mobile marketing at just 5 percent.

Consider, also, this bit of anecdotal evidence too. On Monday, February 9, 2015, a brick-and-click retailer headquartered in the northwestern United States, launched a contest on its website and on Facebook. Folks who entered had a chance to win one of ten bags of relatively high-end, grain-free dog food. The contest was mentioned in a blog post, linked to from retailer’s home page and included in a paid Facebook promotion.

By Wednesday the contest had fewer than 40 entries.

Then, on Thursday the 12th, the retailer sent an email. Within a few hours there were 604 entries. Within 24 hours of sending the email, there were more than 1,300 entries, nearly all of which came from the email message.

Email Marketing Is Personal and Relational

One of the reasons that good email marketing — not spam — works so well is that it is both personal and relational.

Email subscribers already have some relationship with your business before you send them an email. They have been to your site, seen an offer inviting them to receive an email, and responded to that offer. Your company might not be friends with the subscriber yet, but you are at least acquaintances.

What’s more, your customer’s email inbox is personal space. It’s not the public Internet. It’s not a public Facebook stream. It’s private space. Think of it like meeting a potential customer in her living room, rather than at her office or at the mall. She’s invited your marketing message into her home, her inbox.

Sending an Email vs. Email Marketing

To be truly effective for your business, email marketing must emphasize “marketing.” That is very different from blasting an email message to your entire subscriber list to inform them that last season’s ugly t-shirts are now on sale.

Email marketing is active in seeking the right potential customers — inviting folks with common interests to receive valuable data right in their inboxes.

Email marketing is also giving. Although may businesses can be successful just sending sale notifications, email marketing is best when the messages deliver value in the form of good content marketing.

“Good email content deepens your relationship with your audience through effective subject line writing (getting your messages opened), your distinctive voice (getting those messages read), and delivering quality, niche specific content your prospect needs and shares with others (inspiring referrals and word-of-mouth),” wrote Copyblogger founder Brian Clark.

Finally, email marketing makes good use of available technology. As mentioned above, this includes segmentation, automation and personalization.

The dog food contest mentioned above was, in fact, used to build an email list and segment current users. The retailer now knows that the folks who entered that contest have a dog and have at least some interest in feeding that dog grain-free food. The retailer’s marketing team can now send these users a series of well-crafted, content-based emails that explain the benefits of grain-free dog food, and ultimately convince the recipients to switch brands and, perhaps, retailers. Effectively the email moves the conversation toward commerce.

If you’re not using email marketing, you’re probably losing sales.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Alan February 16, 2015 Reply

    What’s a good number of subscribers to begin sending emails and what if they’re segmented as well by different products within a niche?

    • Stas [] March 23, 2015 Reply

      Hi Alan,
      You can start sending when you have even 50-100 subscribers.

      You can have 2-3% conversion rate with Email Marketing, so even a 100 subscribers can generate additional sales for you.

  2. Elizabeth Ball February 16, 2015 Reply

    Great article, Armando. However, I am not convinced that contests are a great way to build your email list as contest can often attract disinterested recipients who just enter contests (who intend to sell their winning items if they succeed) and actually have no real interest n your products at all. Worse, they’re the ones most likely to hit the spam button even though they opted to hear from you.

  3. Amy McCarthy February 16, 2015 Reply

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the contest example was to demonstrate the level of engagement email marketing can offer. Since the recipients of the contest email were already subscribed, they were already previously engaged with his brand, so email list building wasn’t the goal. The takeaway here is that now he has a segmented list of customers who are interested in contests and moving forward, can help avoid spam button hits by specifically targeting this list for future contest.

    Great article and insight Armando.

    Amy McCarthy | Digital Marketing Analyst |

    • Didi February 17, 2015 Reply

      I agree with you Amy. Nowhere in the contest example do they mention segmenting their list. I assume they send the email to dog-owners rather than any other kind of a pet-owner. Nevertheless, it was a successful campaign.

  4. vishnu February 17, 2015 Reply

    My name is vishnu i am with V2Soft we are looking for a Email Marketing company,we are looking for a specific feature in that.such that only the team leader should have the access for the contacts and should be able to see the contacts rest of the team should not be able to see the contacts.if it is possible please contact me at my email as soon as possible.

  5. Reed February 18, 2015 Reply

    I agree 100% that email marketing is still a great way to connect with customers and generate considerable sales at a relatively low cost. I would add that a retailer should do the math to analyze which add on features offered by Email Marketing Services make the most sense for them relative to the other uses of their time and money. There seems to be an arms race among the service firms to offer the broadest range of additional features. There is a big difference in how much incremental benefit you can get out of a list depending on whether it has 5k, 50k or 500k contacts.

  6. naresh July 1, 2015 Reply

    nice article.