Does this sound a little farfetched? Well it isn’t – it happened. In 1978 Gary Thuerk, a Marketing Manager at DEC (Digital Equipment Corp), sent the first email marketing campaign to 400 Arpanet users, resulting in $13 million in sales for DEC.
Until the mid-1990’s most direct marketing was accomplished utilizing direct mail or telemarketing. In 1991, with the introduction of the Internet, everything changed, at least for early adopters. When Hotmail launched the first free web based email service, they unwittingly opened the door to a new direct marketing alternative, email marketing.
By 1995, the Internet and email was still seen as a novelty, primarily used by businesses and universities and the majority of consumers saw no need for email.
Enter America Online (AOL) – Even though AOL went public in 1992, at an initial public offering price of $11.50, things didn’t start to heat up until AOL starting sending out disks – CD’s. These CD mailings were an ingenious idea and put AOL on the map.
Here’s how it worked: You would receive a CD in the mail, put it into your computer’s CD-ROM drive and you could setup an AOL account and be connected to AOL and the Internet, via dial-up, within minutes. For any consumer who was clueless about the Internet and wanted to get online, this made it easy and simplest way to get started. By 2003 AOL had reached its peak of roughly 27 million users paying $19.95 per month. Surprisingly enough, in 2014, AOL still has 2.1 million dial-up subscribers who generated in excess of $500 million in annual revenue for the company.
Online marketers have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to marketing their products or services online. For the past 10 years, US online marketers found email marketing to be the most cost effective option for customer retention, new customer acquisition, consumer awareness and customer conversion.
A survey of online marketers revealed that email marketing was still the top rated marketing channel and produced the greatest ROI (return on investment), ahead of social media marketing, content marketing, referral marketing and SEO (search engine optimization).
Why is email marketing such an effective tool for the online marketer? Could it be related to the ease of sending email? Could it be that most online users have an email account? I think you need to look further into what makes email marketing easy – which is dependent on the sophistication of the implementation and strategy. Riding a bike is easy – riding a bike in the Tour de France is not.
The Obvious Question
If email marketing returns the highest ROI and generates the best results for online marketers, why aren’t most marketers utilizing email marketing more effectively? Creating an efficient and profitable email marketing strategy isn’t difficult, if you know what you’re doing. From the basics of ensuring your email list is clean and valid to testing a variety of email creatives and landing pages, it simply boils down to using common sense when planning your strategy. Sometimes it’s more effective to hire an Email Marketing Agency, who has the experience and expertise to remove the guess work, ensuring your email marketing initiative is implemented correctly and professionally executed.
With the ever changing landscape of how people access the Internet and email, ensuring a complete mobile strategy from your email creatives to your landing pages, is a fundamental change that must be implemented to compete. If you think you can simply disregard mobile users, plan on cutting out two-thirds of your entire perspective customer universe – considering that 66% of emails are opened on mobile devices and of that, 38% are opened on an iPhone.