Though email is one of the most mature digital marketing channels, it remains widely popular with both consumers and marketers. As a practice, it turns 40 years old this year; the first marketing email was sent by Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1978. His message, sent to 400 potential clients via the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), led to $13 million worth of product sales for DEC.
Email marketing grew rapidly as the technology moved beyond universities and large corporations to the consumer market in the early 1990s. The iconic America Online “You’ve got mail!” message was recorded in 1989. Though Thuerk’s message was viewed as unwanted by many recipients, the first example of commercial spam email is generally credited to a pair of lawyers in April 1994.
It’s hard to beat email for reach. Though Facebook continually makes headlines as the world’s largest social network and recently topped two billon users, there are nearly three billon email users globally.
As the number of email accounts and the use of email marketing have grown, so has the ecosystem of supporting technology. The universe of email marketing tools encompasses not only email service providers (ESPs like Constant Contact, AWeber, and MailChimp) and marketing automation platforms (e.g., Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot), but also tools for scheduling, tracking, list-building, creating custom email signatures, optimizing deliverability, creating and testing subject lines, and other related functions.
Scott Brinker’s latest Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic includes more than 200 marketing automation systems plus another 118 ESPs and other email marketing tools.
Here are 10 more essential facts and statistics about email marketing.
Further, as Shawn Elledge points out in Email Marketing Best Practices for Deliverability, regulations continue to evolve and marketers need to understand and comply with current requirements in every country where their recipients reside. He notes that, “Many countries…require explicit consent with heavy penalties for transgressions,” meaning poor sending practices risk far more than just losing a few subscribers.
Email marketing is likely to remain a vibrant practice as it continues to evolve, producing better results for both senders and recipients.
From the consumer standpoint, filters and other tools make it easier than ever to avoid spam. The competition for limited inbox attention is challenging marketers to create messages that are more personalized, interactive, relevant, and compelling.
From the marketing side, the proliferation of tools and new technology are helping increase the quality of opt-in subscriber lists and the measurability of results. An increasing number of tools are incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to help marketers more effectively optimize offers, subject lines, message copy, and send time, and even provide predictive personalization.
Staying current on technology, best practices, and regulatory compliance will keep email marketing an effective and valued practice for both senders and receivers.
This article was first published on V3Broadsuite.