You’ve got email: the enduring love story between brands and consumers


When the new GDPR rules came in in the UK last year, creating a domino effect around the world, companies groaned. In addition to the administrative efforts it entailed, one could almost hear the shrieks as businesses saw their databases shrink. Then something interesting happened.

Where databases were diminished, businesses were left with audiences who had made the conscious decision to engage with their brand.  Thus, it cleansed the platform and resulted in the greater likelihood of higher conversion rates.

Signed, sealed, delivered

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article heralding the rise and rise of email marketing.  They described it as the last bastion of reliable, direct, honest communications between brand and consumer. The hypothesis is that while kids may think of it as archaic, that is countered by the increasing distrust of social media platforms.  The way they herd businesses into spending to gain traction.  Their impact on our mental health.  It means that email is the “emerging medium of choice to reach audiences [and] the only guaranteed-delivery option the internet has left.”

It’s an interesting point to consider, and certainly the durability of email marketing across more than 30 years makes it a reassuring antidote to the burning star of social media. One particularly interesting point the article makes is the luxurious slowness of email compared to apps.

“We’re more likely to consume email on mobile devices than anywhere else, but at our leisure. This makes it the perfect slow-read companion for a device that is otherwise demanding constant attention.”

Genuinely interesting content

The article also makes a strong argument for content marketing that goes well beyond two dimensional sales messages. It highlights Hiut Denim who went from failing business to empire through a savvy and thoughtful approach to email marketing.  It included content that was interesting to everyone, whether buying the brand’s product or not.

“Today, these emails include tastefully curated roundups of the articles, videos, products and quotations that Hiut employees found fascinating that week, plus yearly features such as “100+ Makers and Mavericks” and this monster gift guide which features exactly none of the company’s own products.”

Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it

All of this makes an excellent case for the value of emails as part of a marketing strategy. It is also a worthwhile reminder for businesses to use, but not to get blindsided, by the demands of social media. However, we think it’s important to consider this sage advice as part of a spectrum of communications needed for organisations to market themselves effectively.

Rather than seeing email as being in competition with social media, consider it in tandem. Both having their functional roles to play. Indeed, generally speaking, social media has a lower conversion rate than email. However, it also generally has a higher audience reach, which is important for brand building.

Emails have a higher conversion rate because, especially now, they are targeted at an audience who have registered their interest. The thing is, in order to ‘capture’ the interested customers, potential clients needs to sign up email marketing. That often comes via a website or social media promotion.

A variety of skills under an omnichannel strategy

Another point is that, while there may be some benefits to GDPR from a marketing perspective, there are also limiting factors as a result. Those restrictions have less of an impact on social media marketing. What is fundamentally important is to know why you are using particular channels and to create an omnichannel strategy accordingly.

Where all of this becomes challenging for companies is that there are a lot of moving parts in an omnichannel strategy. That means a lot of skillsets, not all of which may be within your existing team.  Not all of which are cost effective to have on staff or with a large agency style service. That’s where an interim service makes all the difference. All the skills, from content writing to marketing technology expertise, coordinated under one strategy, on demand.