Why does email marketing work?
Jeanne S. Jennings, in her email marketing bible, The Email Marketing Kit (Melbourne: SitePoint, 2007), provides one of the best summaries on the benefits of email marketing. I've paraphrased it here:
Email is cost-effective.
While there are costs involved in email marketing, such as copywriting and design, your production and delivery costs are significantly cheaper than that of direct mail. For the same amount, you can send out around a hundred emails for every direct mail letter.
Email builds relationships.
While email may not be the only method that helps connect you with your audience, it's the least intrusive—enabling the recipient to respond at their leisure. A well thought-out email plan can create and strengthen customer loyalty.
Email is active.
Email marketing actively sends your message to interested people, rather than relying on them to find you each time.
Email provides timely results.
The time between distribution and delivery of
an email marketing campaign can be measured in minutes rather than days. This allows you to choose the time you deliver your messages with more precision, and also means results will become evident quickly after you start your campaign.
Email is quick to produce.
Once you're set up to run email campaigns, you can easily launch a major marketing initiative to all your customers in a few hours. There's no other direct marketing source that could be implemented in this sort of time period.
Email accommodates hyperlinks.
With just a click of the mouse, a customer can go from reading your marketing message to purchasing at your online checkout. This speedy one-step process is what marketing dreams are made of.
Email provides detailed feedback.
Email marketing allows for comprehensive feedback. You can measure how many of your emails were successfully delivered and opened, how many times your links were clicked on, and, importantly, how many sales you made. This also enables thorough campaign analysis.
Email enables affordable segmentation and targeting.
Email marketing is agile, allowing you to vary the content sent to customers on your distribution list. You can segment, that is, split your lists based on market segments such as geographic location, purchase history, gender, and age to send tailored messages, improving your conversion rate.
Email plays well with others.
Email works well when part of an integrated direct marketing campaign. While other methods can come across as disruptive or pushy, email is able to prepare your customers for a sales call—or as a followup to a face-to-face sale—without getting in a customer's face.