In 1978, marketer Gary Thuerk sent a mass email to approximately 400 recipients, promoting a new line of Digital Equipment Corporation computers. To some, this was their first encounter of ‘spam emails’, but to others, this marked the start of a new form of marketing that would revolutionise the industry – email marketing.
Fast forward, and as the internet grew, so did email marketing. Email marketing has only evolved to become more targeted, personalised and data-driven. Marketers now have access to a wider range of tools and techniques to create effective campaigns while adapting to changing consumer expectations and privacy regulations.
But what lies ahead for email marketing and its growth in the industry? To us, it’s quite straightforward: empower everyone with the necessary tools for success and witness the creative potential that unfolds.
Email marketing should be accessible for all marketers. If we can make this an industry standard, it will trigger greater innovation and progress for the marketing sector.
The value – and cost – of email marketing
Email marketing is one of the most direct and effective forms of communication between a brand and a customer. As customers have to consent to receiving such information, it can have far more impact, personalisation and resonance than other forms of more generic marketing. And it seems changes to the way we work and how we interact online over the last few years have reflected themselves in email marketing.
The latest data from DMA’s 2023 Consumer Email Tracker shows that the percentage of consumers that find emails from brands useful has “more than doubled since 2021”, now sitting at 32%. Click-through rates have also risen and the industry average for open rates is commonly quoted at around 20%. That’s one in every five emails being read.
With such positive figures and trends, not having access to email marketing would seem like shooting yourself in the foot. But despite this commonly held viewpoint, two fifths of marketers believe they are overpaying for it. When you consider that email marketing should be the base level offering from a brand to its customers, this is a high number of marketers without an affordable means to use it.
Why email marketing should be considered a ‘marketer’s right’
The costliness of email marketing reflects an uneven playing field. Email marketing is now an expected form of communication by customers, but it’s often only those brands with the biggest resources, dedicated teams or small and loyal customer bases that can execute it effectively. This doesn’t need to be the case – it should be a ‘marketer’s right’.
For example, take a look at how OpenAI has played a significant role in levelling the playing field through generative AI. Previously, AI was merely a buzzword known to many, but only a select few had the means to effectively use it. Now, with tools such as DALL-E and ChatGPT, everyone from businesses to individuals are incorporating AI solutions – from chatbots to email design studios – into their daily lives. That marks progression, a widespread industry progression that benefits businesses of all sizes.
This progress can be attributed to improved accessibility, and currently, marketing could benefit from a similar catalyst. How is a small marketing team going to compete with enterprises when half of their budget is taken up by tools like email marketing? Imagine if they had the financial resources typically dedicated to email marketing at their disposal.
How could they use that money? Would it be allocated towards customer engagement research and data platforms that provide a 360 view of the customer, or perhaps invested in more email communication services to turbo charge personalisation? Regardless of the allocation, wouldn’t it be better for this budget to be spent on development, rather than on something that should be a fundamental right for marketers. If we could deliver email marketing as a free service, imagine the realms of possibility that could open up for innovating marketing methods.
What this could mean for the future of marketing
The technology is out there to collate customer contact details compliantly, provide data to personalise emails for every customer, and automate this outreach. If this becomes a standard process, marketers can reshape how they use their time, instead focussing on value-adding tasks.
Rather than conducting manual admin on this process, for example, marketers can spend more time creatively brainstorming their content and campaigns, analysing consumer data and conversion rates to better the impact of said content, and discovering new trends that could introduce marketing methods we have yet to consider.
Just like with the internet and social media, it creates a new foundation and level playing field that can then be built on and enhanced. It is more likely to generate healthy competition and collaboration between brands, rather than unsustainable practices that saturate demand. And crucially, new players can emerge that help drive innovation across the board, benefiting all parties involved.
It’s funny to think back to the days when each SMS used to cost money, but now, being able to send these messages easily is simply a part of both our social and working lives. Access to wifi and data has become increasingly available and free to use too, meaning people can be reached anywhere, anytime. The evolution of each of these channels came from improved access for all, and marketing needs this too. It is a necessary step to progressing how we use the tools and technology we have better.
The time has come for free email marketing
We’ve come a long way since that first email back in 1978. But while other technological advancements have become common practice, email marketing is still not affordable or accessible for a large number of marketers. The democratisation of access to generative AI should serve as an example for how email marketing, and other marketing tools, can follow suit.
If leaders in marketing technology could make this service free for all marketers, who knows what industry innovation could come next? Email marketing is a marketer’s right, and the time has come to make it accessible for all.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Blazewicz, CEO of SALESmanago
Greg is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in marketing and management and has two degrees in English Literature (University of Silesia) and Business Management (Ecole de Commerce de Toulouse). Greg has worked in marketing agencies in New York and London. He was the CMO of Comarch, one of the largest IT companies in Europe, and the CEO of Interia, Poland’s 3rd largest Internet portal, quoted on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. In 2011, Greg founded SALESmanago, a Customer Engagement Platform for impact-hungry eCommerce marketing teams. Their AI-driven solutions have been adopted by 2,000+ mid-size businesses.