Due to its position in the sales pipeline, email marketing is one of the most valuable tools in content marketers' arsenals.

It’s most difficult to quantify the awareness stage of a web marketing campaign. Website traffic, social visits and shares can be tracked, but knowing how much of an impact they’re having on overall brand reach is a bit more abstract. That may be one of the main reasons companies are seeing such high returns on investment when they send marketing materials straight to customers’ inboxes.

Econsultancy recently published its Email Marketing Industry Census, and the results indicate how obvious  the benefits of email are for businesses of any size. In terms of marketing channels, 68 percent of marketers said email gave them a good or excellent return on investment. That’s more than paid search (54 percent), offline direct marketing (43 percent) and online display advertising (33 percent). There was also an overall increase in revenue from email marketing – 28 percent since the first quarter of 2013, according to Econsultancy.

Leading with customized behavior

At first blush, email might seem far less flexible than other channels, such as search or social marketing. However, it’s the medium’s ability to meet customers’ demands that provides it with so much power. For example, as Brafton reported, readers are far more likely to click on email hyperlinks and interact with items in their inboxes in general if they’ve opted into messages.

Open rates are 29 percent higher for messages that include content based on previously expressed preferences – and unique click rates are 41 percent higher overall.

Additionally, prospects and leads won’t be pleased if, after agreeing to receive emails, they see their inboxes flooded with promotional messages. Graymail, or emails people willingly receive but later regret seeing in their inboxes, are extremely likely to lead to unsubscriptions. That’s why, like all forms of content marketing, brands must provide genuine value to keep readers interested.

Hence the importance of tailored content. Promotional emails aren’t necessarily unwanted – especially if they’re tailored to customers’ specifications. In fact, open rates are 29 percent higher for messages that include content based on previously expressed preferences – and unique click rates are 41 percent higher overall.

Email’s place on the marketing family tree

Despite all these benefits, it’s important to remember email is one small part of larger marketing strategies. The reason email offers such a high ROI is because of its position in the sales pipeline. Social media, SEO and other tools lay the groundwork, and email is there to ultimately capture prospects and leads.


Alex Butzbach

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.