Email as marketing tool

Question: Why email as a marketing tool?
Answer: “Because it arrives into a private space, more intimate, away from the social timeline.”

Email endures because good campaigns can make people feel a connection. By Rob Martin.


The shelf-life of some online communication techniques appears to be shortening with every passing year.

Not that fewer people are joining social media sites, quite the opposite is the case with 332 million more internet users in 2016 from the previous year — but that there are so many varying options.

It’s a noisy, busy space and digital marketers must predict if the popularity of one particular social media site is more likely than another in the medium term – not always an easy task.

But amidst the rapid online revolution, email communication has endured.

Indeed, few realise just how old email is.

The very first email was sent by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson in 1971 (the email was simply a test message to himself), and 46-years on it’s still the preferred method of communication for millions of people worldwide.



Aidan Coughlan, a Dublin-based digital consultant, believes emails have lasted the pace as a marketing tool as they have the ability to penetrate where alternative online communication forms can struggle.

“If you’re just trying to get eyeballs on an ad or start a straightforward conversion, there’s a good chance social advertising will yield better value for money – in the short term, at least. But for the deeper, more meaningful communication, email certainly provides a useful addition for your toolkit.”

“There definitely is some level of inherent trust with emails – they arrive into a private space, as opposed to sitting on a timeline of publicly visible information, and so they feel more intimate and trustworthy.”
And he believes email settings add another layer of trust.

“We now trust spam filters to weed out the trash. Most email communications are ones we ourselves signed up for and there are increased personalisation options available on email versus the complete lack of them on social media.”

But structure is everything for an email if a consumer is to engage, particularly in the subject line.

“When it comes to email marketing, the subject line really is the thing. It needs to be crisp, clear, to the point, and give the person a damn good reason for spending their valuable time in opening one of the dozens of email communications they’ll have received that day,” said Aidan.

“Your subject line is not the place for colour or descriptive language! Once you’ve got your reader to open the mail, and once you’ve got something that’s of genuine interest to your audience, the rest really should fall into place.”


8 seconds

The eight-second rule, the average length of time a user concentrates on the content of an email before they decide to bin or keep, only clicks into gear once the email is actually opened.

As Aidan explains, emails, sent to the right people at the right time, can work – but he stressed the importance of reaching larger volumes where possible.

“Open rates on emails aren’t astronomical, especially in certain sectors, but it’s not all about scale.”

“A well-timed, well-directed and relevant email can be incredibly powerful but numbers are still crucial, whatever business you’re in.”

So it seems the tried and trusted email as a digital marketing tool will continue to turn heads where social media adverts may be overlooked in a crowded space. But the power of the message continues to be the most powerful factor of all.

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