The year is 1971. Edward Heath is Prime Minister, ‘The Benny Hill Show’ is (absurdly) the most-watched television programme in the UK and ‘Mr Tickle’ (the first ‘Mr Men’ book) is published. It’s also the year in which the very first, networked email was written and sent.

Of course, those scientists had no idea what impact this new development would have on the planet – I mean, this was a time when the word ‘spam’ referred purely to that exquisite tinned meat. Who knew that email would change the virtual face of communication forever; speed up business, allow pan-global conversations to take place in real time and reduce the numbers of postmen/women on our streets?

It wasn’t really until the mid-1990s that email became widely available to the rest of us, when internet access became more common in the home and in the office. Hotmail launched in 1996 and the rest is history. There was, for a short while, seemingly nothing more exciting that receiving an email from a friend. Similarly, that feeling of dejection when that dinky unopened envelope symbol failed to appear was crushing.

How things have changed

Jump ahead twenty years and the email landscape is quite different. The availability of smaller, wallet-friendly mobile phones meant that people could easily text each other, while subsequent Wi-Fi-powered mobile devices have allowed us converse via social media or through a plethora of instant message apps which are, let’s face it, more convenient than using email.

It could be argued, therefore, that email isn’t really used that much for personal communication anymore – except for those who refuse or don’t have the facility for downloading WhatsApp, etc. (or that are a bit bored while at work with no access to their phone).

Yet we still check our emails regularly. If we’re not looking for emails from our chums, then what are we looking for? Yep, you guessed it: marketing emails.

Here lies the opportunity for marketers

Email has evolved into a channel almost exclusively used by businesses – and that’s something we evidently don’t mind. A study conducted in the US found that email is the preferred method of contact for 72 per cent of consumers, whereas text was favoured by fewer than 20 per cent and social media by less people still.

This presents marketers with huge opportunities: the email inbox truly is a marketplace. Despite this, 40 per cent of British businesses clearly don’t feel it is a priority channel, admitting to spending just £5,000 on their email offering a year, according to an Econsultancy study.

That’s not to say you have to spend a lot, but given that it is consistently voted the singularly most effective marketing channel, it seems crazy that businesses would allocate a higher proportion of their budget to a less effective one.

We LIKE emails!

A second US study reveals that 91 per cent of adults actually like receiving marketing emails from the companies to which they have subscribed. The vast majority would happily accept an email each month, while 61 per cent want weekly messages.

What’s more, 66 per cent of consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email – more than through any other marketing channel. Contrary to belief, it’s not the 18-24-year old, constantly connected demographic that makes the most sales; it’s the 45-54-year olds.

How to take advantage…as it were

Since you’re reading this blog, it’s probably fair to assume that you’re looking for a few tips on making the most out of email. With that in mind, here are a few top tips that should help:

1) Optimise your email marketing campaigns for mobile devices. More people than ever open emails on a phone (47 per cent) or tablet (18 per cent); therefore it’s imperative that yours opens / loads / reads / fits correctly. If it doesn’t, then expect your message to be deleted, as that’s what happens in 69 per cent of cases.

2) Use a responsive template. An expert has designed and created this piece of technological magic so that you don’t have to. Why spend hours doing it yourself when you can practically pick one up off the peg and populate as you see fit?

3) Send your message at the right time. To increase your chances of an open rate, be deliberately choosy with your timing. Depending on the device, the location and the subject matter, the time and day of the week can have a significant impact on your success. Do your own research on this, though the general consensus is to aim for about 1-2pm on a Wednesday. Bear frequency in mind, too. We get so many emails; make sure yours is one of those that is anticipated, not deleted.

4) Give them something worth reading. Marketers have just seconds to grab a recipient’s attention and tempt them to open an email. Use clever (but short) subject lines, personalise the text with the addressee’s name, segment your data and target your emails so that they are relevant and use clear calls-to-action to direct the reader to where you really want them to go.

When was the last time you sent a personal email from your mobile device, laptop or home PC? Probably a long time ago. Email has undoubtedly transformed itself into an effective marketing channel, but more importantly, it’s one we seem to like. It doesn’t matter than we’re not using this medium for personal communication – we’re using it to enrich our lives in other, strictly business ways.


For more information download our exclusive research report, Forget friendship. Show me the goods!