Email was a big deal when it first came to prominence.
Electronic message delivery had been around for decades in various forms, but email messaging across the Internet gained widespread acceptance around the mid 1990s.
Since this time people have been able to send and receive messages with personal inboxes with just a connection to the Internet.
Today, email remains as popular as ever with around 90% of all Internet users active with email.
It’s a powerful channel and because of email’s wide acceptance email has been a key component of marketing since its inception.
In this post we’ll cover how email changed marketing forever and how you can use email marketing to achieve your business goals.
A History of Marketing
Before the Internet there were a few basic mediums for communicating marketing messages with consumers.
Television was a big medium and remains one of the biggest today. People watch television programs and see advertising in the form of commercials and product placement.
There was the in-person salesperson. You could walk into a store and deal directly with someone that was tasked with selling you a product. Some salespeople would even go door-to-door to sell their wares.
Direct mail is another large medium. Up until the early 2000s the catalog industry was a booming industry. Companies could send various pieces of marketing information in the mail enticing consumers to make purchases. Direct mail remains a big area of focus today for many companies even with growing concern surrounding the USPS.
When email took off in the ‘90s it was a game changer.
The Original Marketing Email
Email changed marketing in a few ways.
Sending a marketing message to consumers became nearly instant. Lead-time to design and print and send a catalog was trimmed down to designing the message and hitting send from the email provider.
Consumers used to see an ad on TV and become interested in a product. They would have to visit the store. With email the consumer could click on an item and immediately make a purchase on an ecommerce site.
Even with the change in timing, email marketing most closely emulated direct marketing. Email would take on the look of a page in the catalog page. The copy would tell a story and sell the recipient on the product being featured.
Even today email is used in this way, but the methods are continuing to evolve and get more interest in terms of marketing.
The Ongoing Evolution of Email
Email continues to evolve today. Perhaps the most significant change recently is the increase in email use on mobile devices.
You can’t walk down the street today without seeing people looking at their phones checking their emails.
Everyone is constantly connected to the Internet and to the inbox.
The mobile trend has already had a few major impacts on email marketing.
First, the screen is smaller (obviously) so there is less room for a design to capture the interest of the consumer. Marketers and designers have to get creative with a marketing email design. Scale matters. Only the most important call-to-action may be included in an email design.
Second, there are more outside distractions for mobile users. Marketers used to know that when a consumer checked their email they were sitting at a desk in a home or office. There aren’t too many distractions in that setting.
When consumers are on the move with their phone there are more distractions. People are around and life is taking place everywhere. There is a higher premium on having an email that grabs attention.
But these are opportunities for the best marketers. Mobile presents a great opportunity for email to become an even larger part of the marketing mix. You can reach consumers no matter where they are and you have more access to their time than ever before.
By building an email list you get permission to market to your target consumers. Those that build their email lists today will benefit in the long run.
The Future of Email Marketing
Email changed the changed marketing forever. Messaging from business to consumer (or business to business) became more of an instant gratification. There was no longer a wait for a catalog to arrive in the mail.
Email continues to evolve itself today with the increase in mobile use and email compliance services.
Presently, email is as important as ever but what will the email marketing of the future look like?