Last updated: What is email marketing? Definition, benefits, strategies

What is email marketing? Definition, benefits, strategies


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Email marketing continues to be the most profitable direct marketing channel, projected to increase to $17.9 billion by 2027. Without a doubt, email should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. Whether you want to grow your brand or promote products, email marketing is one of the most effective tools.

However, competition for customers’ attention is fierce. Every email must be interesting and valuable for the recipient to even consider opening. Can you blame them? Think about how our inboxes are flooded with automated emails that provide little to no value.

So how can you avoid having your emails end up in the trash bin or disregarded altogether? What makes effective email campaigns that turn your leads into customers?

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What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that leverages email to promote products and services to potential customers as well as current and past customers. It’s vital for building brand awareness, driving conversions, and growing customer loyalty.

In internet years, email marketing is an ancient art, but it still works. Among marketing channels such as social media and SMS, it continuously delivers some of the highest ROI per dollar spent, anywhere from $38 to $42 return on every $1 invested. For perspective, a 10:1 ROI for your digital marketing efforts is considered a stellar return.

As retail and e-commerce increasingly depend on digital marketing to reach leads, prospects, and existing customers, email marketing hits the sweet spot with personalized messaging at the right time, in the right place, with the right offer – with customers’ consent.

Of course, just because contacts agree to get email communications from you doesn’t mean that any email will automatically drive conversions or build a trusting relationship. You need to be strategic. That means understanding where each recipient is on their customer journey.

Types of email marketing campaigns

There are many different types of email campaigns. Here are some common ones marketing teams have developed over the years and still find effective:

  1. Welcome email – This automated email welcomes someone when they sign up to receive emails from you. Let them know you see them: acknowledge and appreciate their decision to engage with your company. Here’s to the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
  2. Promotional – When you have a new product or service, or want to reintroduce existing ones, send promo emails tailored to each segment of your email list. Introductory deals for potential customers and special access or other perks for existing customers can meet each person where they are on their buying journey.
  3. Seasonal – Black Friday, summertime, back to school, and other recurring seasonal events are great opportunities to let people know that you have what they need to help make this the best holiday, graduation, or vacation yet.
  4. Triggered email – Automation is one of your best friends when it comes to email marketing. When your subscriber clicks on an offer, makes a purchase, returns or exchanges an item, or leaves items in their cart, the activity triggers marketing software to send a customized email for each specific action. Strike while the iron is hot.
  5. Re-engagement – Has it been a while since you’ve heard from or engaged with someone who previously showed interest or made a purchase? Send an email with an offer they can’t resist or with information you know they’ll find valuable, and rekindle that stagnant relationship. Let them know you remember them and the great times you had together.
  6. Post-purchase drip – Your email engagement doesn’t end when someone purchases one of your products or services. That’s when you’re just beginning to build customer trust and loyalty by remaining attentive and helpful. Email plays a major role here, beginning with order confirmation and continuing through shipping confirmation and follow-up emails to ensure that your customer is satisfied. You can make sure any issues are corrected and also offer additional products and services.
  7. Newsletter – Create valuable content for your subscribers and share it with them on a regular basis. This keeps your company and products top-of-mind while associating your brand with content that subscribers value. Content can take the form of useful tips, product updates, videos, and even a bit of entertainment.
  8. Cart Abandonment Campaign – People like to shop online, fill their cart with anything that looks good in the moment, and then for any number of reasons, don’t complete the purchase. Some estimates place average cart abandonment at 70% to 80% of e-commerce shoppers. Email automation helps by triggering an email reminder to encourage shoppers to return to those items in their cart.

Top benefits of email marketing

A high return on investment isn’t the only reason why email marketing is worth your time and investment.

  • Deliver personalized content – Strong email marketing solutions help segment your email list to create personalized content that speaks to each recipient with information, offers, and messaging that’s relevant to their needs and interests at any given time or stage of the customer journey.
  • Boost leads and revenue – Personalized content drives more leads. And more qualified leads mean greater sales revenue.
  • Produce cost-effective campaigns – Strong email campaigns that leverage automation and content created by and for humans can lead to more high-quality leads and with less effort and expense. An effective email marketing campaign can cost you less and deliver higher ROI..
  • Collect customer feedback – Another benefit of having direct contact with your customers is the ability to gather feedback and do pulse checks to gain insight into areas with room for improvement as well as to understand what’s working.

Click, click, open: 7 ways to make people actually read your emails

In a vast sea of emails, how can you ensure your brand stands out from the crowd and get higher open and click-through rates?

  • Don’t be afraid to get personalPersonalized content is key to letting your subscribers know that you’re paying attention to what they want.
  • Keep subject lines short – Short and sweet will grab your customers’ attention from among the loads of emails filling their inbox.
  • Choose the right time – Another perk of data-driven and automated email marketing solutions is that you can send emails any time that best suits your subscriber, not just when you have someone available to manually send out emails.
  • Send mobile-friendly emails – With more and more people reading email on their smartphones, making sure your emails are responsive and mobile-friendly can mean the difference between conversion or deletion.
  • Segment email subscribers – Part of the power of personalization is the ability to segment an email subscriber list so that you’re sending the most effective messaging to the appropriate audiences.
  • Test copy, design, and buttons – Data-driven iteration and adaptation are a must for understanding your customers and meeting them on their terms. A/B testing can help you determine which messaging and design choices get the best results from your subscribers.
  • Leverage email automation – Without question, you need content created for humans by humans. But when it comes to making sure your content is delivered to the right person at the right time, automation is the way to go. Between handling mass amounts of information and repetitive tasks and ability to send emails at any time, automated email marketing software is key to getting the best results.

Show me the data: Email marketing statistics

Numbers say it all when it comes to proving the value of email marketing.

  • Email marketing can bring up to 4,200% return on investment, which is astronomically higher than what marketers consider an exceptional ROI of 10:1
  • Every day, 4 billion people use email.
  • Approximately 20% of retail/e-commerce companies personalize emails to characteristics such as race, gender, and ethnicity.
  • Although many millennials and Gen Z consumers use email and SMS, a large percentage of Baby Boomers (74%) consider email to be a personal way to communicate with brands.
  • 80% of marketers would leave social media behind before abandoning email marketing.
  • According to 31% of B2B marketers, the best way to nurture leads is with an email newsletter.
  • 66% of marketers say that AI-based email marketing automation is valuable for optimizing send times.

Even though email is considered one of the oldest forms of digital communication, it’s still ranked superior in terms of usage – almost all of us use email, whether it’s for work or personal purposes.

Put simply, email marketing is still thriving in this day and age. Email campaigns are a cost-effective way to reach thousands of customers in just a single moment in time, with the ability to tailor your message to each customer.

Personalization: It’s not magic.
It’s method.
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