Jeanne S. Jennings

Email Marketing: “I am not dead yet”

News of email marketing’s demise has been around for years.

Cases in point:

  • I’ve been on many panels where the topic is “Email is Dead; Long Live <Fill in the Blank>” where “the blank” is Blogs, RSS, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube – you name it. Typically it’s a point-counterpoint format, where I’m alone on one side of the stage and there are at least three “experts” on the other side dissing on email.
  • News sources, from About.com to iMedia Connection to the Wall Street Journal have run articles about  all the latest online marketing tactics – and how they will displace email in a matter of months or years.
  • I recently did an audit of a large organization’s email program, from acquisition through creative development and into conversions and overall performance. At a presentation to the field reps, it only took a few slides for an attendee to raise his hand and ask why we were bothering, since no one used email anymore (even though their members are career professionals in their early 20s through retirement age).
  • Ever since I started my email marketing consultancy, over nine years ago, people have asked me what I was going to do when email died. Confidence in my career choice was not high.

All that said, email is NOT dead yet. Nor is it dying.

Each year, the Direct Marketing Association ranks marketing channels by the ROI generated. Email has led their rankings for a number of years; in 2010 they project that email marketing will return an average of $42 for each dollar spent, down from more than $43 in 2009. Email is the leader by more than a nose; the #2 channel was Internet search advertising, which returned just under $22 per dollar spent in 2009.

Forrester also weighed in on email earlier this year, projecting that U.S. spending on email marketing will increase by a compound annual rate of 11% until at least 2014, when it will reach $2 billion.

A recent MarketingSherpa survey found that email was one of only two tactics where more organizations increased budgets than decreased them in 2009. Nearly 50% of companies reported that their email budget increased, compared to 14% who said it decreased (the balance said that their email marketing budget stayed constant). The only other tactic where more budgets increased than decreased? Social networks and blogs, where 48% of companies increased budgets and 20% decreased them.

The latest report that supports the life left in email marketing comes from Yahoo! Hotjobs, which recently  published an article on six new careers they felt were “coming of age.” Number five? You guessed it – Email Marketing Manager. Yahoo! reports it delivers an average salary of $69,000 and encourages those interested in moving into email marketing management to pursue an MBA.

My experience in the trenches supports the health of email marketing. My email marketing consultancy has been busier than ever in the past few years. I continue to grow my client base and just brought on a new employee to help me meet the demand.

So the next time someone suggests to you that email is dying, smile and just hum the tune to Monty Python’s “He’s Not Dead Yet.” Then go back to the office and continue to hone your skills to succeed in this exciting industry which is very much alive.

Editor’s Note: Jeanne Jennings is teaching MarketingSherpa’s Email Essentials Workshop Training in 12 locations across North America this year; the next one takes place in Toronto on October 19th. She’ll be blogging about the course material and her experiences during the tour. We’re excited to have her on board and contributing to the blog.

Related Resources

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing in One Day with MarketingSherpa Email Trainer Jeanne Jennings

Email marketing Case Studies, How To Articles and Interviews

Email Marketing Awards Gallery 2010: Winning Campaign Details and Creative Samples

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Email Marketing, Marketing



  1. October 12th, 2010 at 12:29 | #1

    I agree completely with your above posting. We have been in email marketing business for more than 7 years now and have only seen our client requirements grow year by year.
    Email marketing is dead for those who do bulk marketing and non targeted marketing. If you use a right database and market it thru the right people, email marketing is still the best tool you can find – cheap and instant ROI guaranteed.

  2. Jim
    October 12th, 2010 at 13:28 | #2

    Can you post a link to the Yahoo HotJobs article you referenced?

  3. October 12th, 2010 at 16:05 | #3

    Hi Jim and Mark!

    So glad you are both boycotting the wake for email marketing with me! Thanks so much for reading and for your comments.

    The full Yahoo! article is available at

    http://education.yahoo.net/articles/breakout_new_careers.htm

    Enjoy!
    Jeanne

  4. October 13th, 2010 at 02:54 | #4

    Thank you for a great article – I think I’ve found a partner in crime!

  5. October 13th, 2010 at 05:32 | #5

    Nice advice. It’s also useful to look at purchase data, especially if one of your goals with your email marketing is to increase sales and you’re including discounts and other offers as incentives for your subscribers to click through and purchase.

  6. October 13th, 2010 at 07:07 | #6

    Social media isn’t supplanting *any* form of marketing. The people running around talking about how the latest shiny whiz-bang internet thingy is a “game changer” will be long gone before email marketing dies.

    Whether you’re talking about email marketing or direct mail (which isn’t “dead yet” either), there will *always* be a place for direct marketing. The tools may evolve, but the basic concept is constant.

  7. October 15th, 2010 at 08:29 | #7

    Jeanne –

    Fantastic write up here.

    Email marketing is alive and well – it’s a matter of knowing how to leverage it correctly, rather than whether or not you should.

    When treated as a relationship and trust building tool, which is at the heart of all marketing efforts, it’s one of the most effective strategies. And while we may continue to engage more and more with social media, in many ways, those platforms do not carry the same amount of authority – by their very nature, they are informal. In some respects, there’s something to be said about informal relationship marketing, but on a broader plane-especially where businesses are concerned-social media marketing has its limitations, especially in terms of being able to genuinely offer value.

    As a supplement, great, but I certainly don’t see one replacing the other, which is why it’s best to implement a holistic online marketing program that incorporates both mediums.

    Thanks for this!

  8. October 20th, 2010 at 23:12 | #8

    Jeanne,

    Great article and thanks

  9. October 21st, 2010 at 13:13 | #9

    Here Here to Email’s dominance in ROI!

    Usually the people who speak on email’s demise are those who have something to gain – like the Social Networking folk.

    Fact is, Email was the first online “social networking” tool – and will continue to be one.

    Also, I think people ignore that smart phones are so widely in use today (and still gaining in saturation), so a rich email experience is always in hand – and so much more can be communicated in email versus 140 characters :)

  10. October 21st, 2010 at 13:50 | #10

    Great topic. As long as people continue to use “email”, email marketing cannot die ;-) .

  11. November 3rd, 2011 at 17:21 | #11

    Established business in the northeast now branching out in to new territory in the southeast help?

  1. October 21st, 2010 at 15:28 | #1
  2. October 21st, 2010 at 15:28 | #2
  3. November 5th, 2010 at 11:28 | #3
  4. January 27th, 2011 at 14:37 | #4