July 25, 2011

In Defense of E-Mail Marketing

If you look at a marketing department, you'll frequently find an understaffed e-mail marketing team.  That's too bad, because e-mail marketing is one of the few disciplines where customers clearly ask you to push messages to them!

Sometimes, our view of opens/clicks/conversions blinds us to the actual value the program generates.

For instance, consider this business ... one with an e-mail marketing list of 500,000 customers, sending one campaign per week to all customers who subscribe.
  • Open Rate = 20%.
  • Click-Through Rate (of those who open) = 30%.
  • Conversion Rate (of those who click-through) = 5%.
  • Average Order Value = $100.
  • Total Program Sales = 10% of Company Sales.
When measured this way, it's hard to see the impact the program has on the total business.

Let's look at the results, on an annual basis:
  • Annual Sales = 500,000 * 0.20 * 0.30 * 0.05 * 100 = $7,800,000.
  • Annual Variable Profit = $7,800,000 * 0.40 (profit factor) - $500,000 (program cost) = $2,620,000.
  • Total Company Sales = $78,000,000.
  • Total Company Variable Profit (before fixed costs) = $11,500,000.
When viewed this way, e-mail marketing is responsible for 10% of company sales, and 22.8% of company variable profit.  That's a good deal!

Then you look at the resources committed to e-mail marketing in your marketing department, and you probably observe that fewer than 1 in 5 of marketing person-hours are spent on e-mail marketing, right?!

In other words, this is probably a marketing channel that warrants increased investment.


  1. If, however, the rates of conversion and sales as directed by e-mail marketing declines, it might not exactly be the decadence of the medium used, but the antiquity of the (written, otherwise tone in) approach to marketing.
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  2. I think email marketing is still an effective marketing strategy in reaching your customers as well as making new customers. I have to agree with you that e-mail marketing is one of the few disciplines where customers clearly ask you to push messages to them.

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  3. People tend to forget to use email marketing since they think that their message might be sent in the spam folder.


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Oh, It Adds Up

Let's look at an example. You have a winning item. It sold 50,000 units last year at an average of $30.00 each, for $1,500,000 in sales....