Does Email Marketing still work?

8th February 2020
Aoibheann Schwartz

Email marketing is a well-established method for growing your business, clients, subscribers, and for spreading brand awareness. While the term “content marketing” is relatively new, email marketing has been used by marketers ever since the first email was sent over 42 years ago! Of course, email marketing has certainly evolved since then, to involve new techniques, technologies, and automation capabilities which make it much more efficient. But the question is, does email marketing still work?

Email Marketing in a Nutshell

Email marketing began its days as a direct marketing technique when Marketing Manager Gary Thuerk sent a batch of mass emails to several hundred addresses (although “mass” of course indicates a slighter larger figure these days!).

A whole new way of reaching potential customers was born.

So, what is email marketing, and how does it actually work?

In a nutshell, email marketing is a simple, cost-effective way of establishing direct contact between your business and customers – whether existing, or prospects. Whether you are sending engaging, creative newsletters, or distributing your latest blog post pertinent to your industry (and that of the receiver’s, presumably), you are engaging in email marketing.

Just like content marketing, email marketing allows you to show off your subject expertise, grow brand awareness, increase traffic to your website, and ultimately grow interest in your business and services. According to Hubspot, successful email marketing can return £38 per £1 spent, and 80% of business professionals believe that email marketing can increase customer retention.

The Pitfalls of Email Marketing

So we’ve seen how popular email marketing can be, especially when it comes to strengthening your marketing toolkit. But can it still perform as well as it has in the past? What are the main pitfalls which now occur?

In the B2B space, people are becoming less receptive to email marketing, unless it offers something which will significantly improve their business and work processes. These benefits needs to be immediately obvious and eye catching from the email subject line. Competition is fierce, now that every business and service has become more skilled at email marketing. Remember, you’re competing with all the other subscription emails and new campaigns which land in their inbox every day.

Marketing and Brand Managers, Executives, and Commercial Directors are some of the most targeted roles, especially now that tools like LinkedIn can give us insight into an individual’s exact responsibilities within a company.

This is also true for B2C email campaigns, showing that all consumers have definitely become more sensitive to email marketing. We are surrounded by advertisements and commercials, and consumers are getting better at spotting the sales pushers. Regardless of whether they are at home or at work, the customer (aka, humans) has the same instinctual, immediate response to avoid anything that appears like “spam” mail. People also feel annoyed and irritated by intrusive subject lines, or repetitive emails.

Another issue is data privacy. New initiatives such as GDPR have made everyone more aware of how emails find their way into their inboxes. As a business, it’s important to be careful when clicking on emails received from unknown addresses, as there is always a possible risk of fraud or data breaches.

This awareness makes people more wary about which emails they engage with when logging onto their business email account. Email senders should put effort into establishing legitimate interest with their leads, especially for repeat emailing purposes.

Tips to Winning at Email Marketing

We’re here to tell you, that the tricks of the trade still exist, and that if you’re smart with your email marketing, you can still make it work for you and your business goals.


  1. Personalise your campaigns. Make sure to be smart with your email marketing curation, so that you include personal touches such as the receiver’s name. This also works well for follow-up emails.


  1. Don’t be pushy. The main reason that people dislike email marketing is because they feel they are being pushed to buy something. Present your ideas in an educative manner, instead of pushing sales.


  1. Create catchy subject lines. This is probably the most important trick of all. What drives clicks? Titles and words which attract the reader’s attention, and incentivizes them to…click. Again, you need to find a balance here between overtly sales-driven and theatrical subject lines, and genuine, smart, interesting tags.


  1. Make your emails contemporary. There are lots of old school email features you’ll need to avoid, such as cliche subject lines, overt sales pitches, and outdated graphics and email content. You definitely need to think of each email as a product. Each email marketing campaign is a reflection of your brand, so you should approach them in the same way as you would when creating online content.


  1. Make sure your email list is full of top quality leads. This means relevant, potential customers, whether B2B or B2C, who would be genuinely interested in your products and services. Sending email campaigns to addresses outside of your field could be more of an annoyance than an attraction to the receiver.


  1. Take advantage of new email marketing software. Automation can increase efficiency for all departments of your team, and there are plenty of software programs to choose from when it comes to sending mass emails, including:


Curious about which type of email marketing is most effective? According to research carried out by Wordstream, B2B email marketing campaigns have a better track record than B2C emails, so there is evidence that email marketing can still reap rewards. If you want to get really granular, including an emoji in your subject line and sending your email campaign on a Tuesday might also boost your chances of a click-through!