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Email Marketing Turns 40 This Year (and 10 Other Fascinating Facts)

Email Marketing Turns 40 This Year (and 10 Other Fascinating Facts)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.

Email marketing works.

  1. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of marketers say email is their most effective lead generation channel when targeting new customers. (Digital Media Stream)

But it works best when carefully targeted.

  1. 77 percent of email marketing ROI comes from segmented, targeted and triggered campaigns. Triggered emails drive 624 percent higher conversion responses for the same number of sends as compared to batch and blast emails. (Jeff Bullas)
  2. Personalized email messages improve click throughs on a call-to-action by an average of 14 percent, and conversions by 10 percent. (Jeff Bullas)

Combining video with email can significantly increase impact and results.

  1. Six out of 10 marketers use video for email marketing, and 82 percent believe it is effective. (HubSpot)
  2. Using the word “video” in an email subject line increases open rates by 19 percent. Including video in an email message increases click-through rates by 200-300 percent. (Social Media Today)
  3. Personalized videos can increase email conversions by 500 percent(!). But keep them short—videos of 30 seconds or less have an 89 percent higher conversion rate than longer videos. (HubSpot)
  4. According to Vidyard, personalized videos can increase open rates 16 times more than standard videos. (Inc.)

Young professionals think email is awesome.

  1. Millennials love email; 73 percent prefer to contact brands by email because it’s a “part of everyday life.” (ClickZ)
  2. 66 percent of GenXers and 64 percent of Millennials prefer to interact with brands online, and email is their channel of choice. 44 percent of consumers are willing to open emails from brands. Millennials in particular like to get emails from brands, as 22 percent said they’re “very likely” to read them. (V3+Broadsuite Blog)

Compliance pays.

  1. To protect your deliverability, make it clear how to opt out! 50 percent of email recipients marked a brand’s email as spam because they couldn’t easily figure out how to unsubscribe. (Jeff Bullas)

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.

Tom Pick

Tom Pick is a digital marketing consultant, working with Kinetic Data, a provider of enterprise service request management, workflow automation, and collaboration software. He writes about content and social media marketing topics on the Webbiquity blog.

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