8 Questions About the State of Email Marketing

  |  April 21, 2011   |  Comments

For all those worried about email in the days of Twitter and Facebook, learn some truths here.

I have run my email-focused digital agency for over eight years and I have heard thousands of questions from clients, prospects, peers, and friends about how email marketing really works (and doesn't). I have even written dozens of articles that (hopefully) address many of these issues. Many of the questions stay the same (best day to send an email, good open rate, etc.), but many new ones are popping up as the industry evolves. Here are eight (and one history nugget) that are relevant to today's inbox that are good to have in your back pocket.

  1. I have more Twitter followers than email subscribers - does that mean Twitter is more valuable to my brand?

    Twitter is easier to deploy messages for sure – no creative, coding, delivery issues, and the like. But it depends on your goals and results (you are getting metrics for your Twitter posts, right?). It's a bit like arguing about which is better: coffee vs. lunch – they serve different purposes. However, most won't engage with (much less read) your Twitter message. Brafton reported only 6 percent of tweets sent across the web see even a single retweet, which is for many the key indicator of engagement on Twitter.
  2. Will email die if the daily deal suffers the fate of the dot com bubble?

    While the daily deal space is so frothy that one can't help but reminisce about the good old days of 1998 to 2000, consumers are saying they can't get enough of the coupon emails, at least for now. Sixty-one percent of surveyed consumers said they read all of the daily deal messages. And most access the emails at least once a day. Plus, Groupon is worth upwards of $20 billion. Even if 90 percent of the daily deal sites die (and they will), email will be just fine, thank you.
  3. When was the first email sent?

    The first email was sent in 1971 between two computers right next to each. It is fair to say that email is a mature digital communication when compared to other digital message mediums.
  4. How are email and social subscribers and followers different?

    Short answer comes from Jay Baer: "Facebook 'like' and Twitter follow are not 'subscriptions' at all, but rather assertions of passion. Social media connectivity is digital bumper stickering." I would add that in these channels, consumers are giving permission for different reasons, so treat and communicate with them differently based on these very different mindsets.
  5. Isn't email rapidly declining due to youth's changing digital media habits?

    Please see "Digital's Great Teenage Misunderstanding."
  6. I have an email list that I inherited – permission was not granted to email these people. Can I email them?

    Legally, yes, assuming you follow all elements of the CAN-SPAM Act. From the view of "should you?" it's a bit trickier since permission email works when there is…permission. So at a minimum you need to obtain permission. Some may choose to send a one-time opt-in email while others may try to communicate through other channels and drive them to a preference center. It's a slippery slope otherwise if you try to skirt around the permission issue.
  7. I just switched email partners. All of a sudden after my first mailing with the new vendor, my metrics changed rapidly – the email was the same we sent with the old vendor, so what gives?

    Big problem here. It's shockingly basic but difficult to fix. Email service providers have varying ways of measuring and defining metrics. Even click-through percentage can be counted differently – one may say its clicks based on number of opens while others may say it is based on the number sent or successfully delivered. The Email Experience Council is trying to standardize this – learn more here.
  8. How come my emails show up without images for some subscribers and look awesome for others?

    According to MarketingSherpa, only 33 percent of consumers have images on by default. So it depends on the email client they use (and the version) and how you design and code your email. Please see below for a visual representation of this statistic that demonstrates that even the marketing powerhouse Apple can get tripped up on the complexities of email marketing.

Thirty-three percent of consumers have images on by default:


Sixty-seven percent of consumers may have images turned off and are viewing this:


Please feel free to add additional questions that I will crowdsource responses for a future column. Thanks in advance.


Simms Jenkins

Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.

Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.

Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.

He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.

Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.

Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.

Follow and connect with Simms on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, The BrightWave Blog, and his book websites at NewInboxBook.com and SimmsJenkins.com.

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