Email may be dying a slow death as a communication tool (at least in Asia) but it is still a great marketing tool for brands. Eight out of ten people who sign up for brand emails make a purchase based on the email content, according to the influential podcast Marketing over Coffee. That’s some serious conversion.

I am, please remember, talking about opt-in newsletters, not unsolicited spam. So why is email still a thing?

E-Mail Filters Through the Noise

In a world of constant surfing, swiping, snapping, and liking, e-mail newsletters somehow manage to filter through the social noise. Reading your e-mail is private time, undisturbed by social media. You pay more attention. You are focused.

Unlike Facebook, the inbox might also contain a job offer, a message from a loved one, or instructions from your boss, so your brain is on high alert when you are going over the inbox.

Also, you most likely opted in to receive the newsletter in the first place, therefore you are by definition interested in the content. Psychologically, that primes you to be more receptive to offers. 

Marketers need to remember though that e-mails do vie for attention: some stand out, others are ignored. Some experts insist that e-mails with a personalized subject line such as “Hey John, we’ve got this fantastic new nose hair clipper on sale now!” work better than a standard subject like “Amazon Weekly Newsletter”.

I have found no evidence of that. On the contrary, having a standard boring subject line will keep your mailing list shorter, because you’ll retain the people who are really interested in your brand while getting rid of the click-bait-clickers who never buy anything anyway. And Mailchimp & Co. can get pretty expensive as your list grows.

There are good times and bad times to send an email, for example: don’t do it on the weekend, because come Monday morning your overworked recipient will have to sift through hundreds of other emails.

I discovered that sending a newsletter around 4:30 pm local time, results in the most opens. That’s because there are very likely fewer meetings scheduled, the day’s work is mostly done, and recipients are on there way out. However, because it is the end of the working day, they are much less likely to pick up the phone and call. So sending in the morning may get fewer opens, but more actual leads. You’ll have to figure out what schedule works best for you. A/B testing is a good way to do that.

All in all, consumers are looking for e-mail content that is personalizeddirect, and not too pushy. It should also address clients interests, i.e. be customer-centric, not brand-centric. So not “Siemens Weekly Briefing” but “Transportation Technology News”. You get the drift.

Other things to consider for your e-mail marketing:

  • Make sure the e-mail looks good on mobile. We now get 75% of opens on mobile. Many e-mail marketing tools allow you to preview your newsletter on all kinds of devices.
  • Include mobile action buttons. If someone really wants to click that Buy button, they should reach a mobile-friendly landing page also.
  • E-mails with special offers do convert better. Just announcing a new product doesn’t cut it. You want to offer that 20% discount (only available till Friday).
  • Funny enough, last-minute emails work, especially with men. They do tend to do their shopping at the last minute.
  • Email offers with free shipping are popular.
  • Most conversions are abandoned if users land on a page where they have to fill in more than 3 fields in a form. Make the purchase process as fast and easy as possible or don’t bother at all.
  • Consider retargeting with the Facebook Pixel to reach more relevant audiences and to reach people who didn’t complete a purchase. But remember: don’t be pushy. Five reminders in two days that I didn’t buy your sofa is enough to piss off anyone.
  • Video content, as long as it loads quickly and delivers value. Don’t include it just because; it has to offer valuable information.
  • Use e-mail to communicate with the brand. Allow consumers to vent or reach help desks, for example. Offering that channel of communication makes emails intrinsically more valuable.
  • Finally, we found that e-mails which address problems rather than promote products are more successful. Rather than include a spec sheet, for example, show the product in specific scenarios showcasing its utility. Rethink your newsletter from the recipient’s perspective.

Brands with e-commerce solutions with informative newsletters – i.e. which aren’t just boring product listings – convert up to three times better than brands without newsletters.

B2B brands which use emails to give their brand a human face are remembered longer and more favorably by potential clients.

Even with ever more sophisticated spam filters, e-mail is still an important marketing tool

Read also: Inbound Marketing Explained