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Understanding Your Most Valuable Marketing Channel: The Power of an Email Subscriber


Marketing strategies, best practices, technologies, and channels seem to be changing all the time. Between new social media channels, evolving Google ranking factors, and continuously updating email clients, it’s enough to make a marketer’s head spin.

Among all the changes in marketing and the trends that come and go, there’s one channel that remains unique and powerful: email. There’s a lot to love about email (which we’ll dive into in a minute), but the biggest advantage of email marketing is the subscriber.

Why an email subscriber is more valuable than a social follow

We don’t mean to step on the toes of any social media marketers, but it’s time to shine a light on email subscribers. Email may often be seen as an old school channel, but the truth is, it pulls weight in the marketing arena that’s unmatched by other channels. Why? Because of the special relationship that email creates between a brand and a subscriber.

Given that it’s easier to build a personalized connection and track ROI with an email subscriber, we may even go so far as to say an email “subscribe” is more powerful than a social “like.”

Here’s why.

Email subscribers want to hear from you (even your promo)

If you’re doing email the right way—and we know you are—then email subscribers actively choose to hear from you. Unlike a paid social media ad or SEM, your email subscribers have opted-in to your marketing.

Luckily for email marketers, not only do email subscribers choose to hear from you, they’re also open to promotions. 60% of consumers subscribe to emails for promotional content, while only 20% prefer social media for promotions. Plus, 44% of consumers check their email for a deal from a company while only 4% go to Facebook.

All of these factors together mean that each time you send an email, it goes to someone who wants you in their inbox and is more open to sales-forward content. In contrast, paying to put ads in front of a cold audience is an uphill battle in establishing a connection.

Email communication is more personal

No matter what industry or niche you’re in, it’s likely that your customers have options. One way to stand out among competitors is to focus on building a personal relationship with customers. Luckily, email is much closer to a one-on-one conversation than a Facebook post. Email, when done right, can be more conversational and private. Plus, you have more options for fine-tuning the visuals to match your brand’s personality.

Subscribers can be reached, at scale, for less

For many advertising channels, reaching a larger audience means a significant increase in marketing spend. With email, you can create curated experiences for customers at scale without running through your marketing budget.

Sure, your email service provider might bill you based on email volume or list size, and you might opt for more sophisticated segmentation and more complex campaigns as your list grows—all of which impacts email production costs. But compared to other channels, the cost of scaling your email program to reach more subscribers is vanishingly small. Your spending doesn’t need to change much to reap the benefits of a larger audience, whether you’re sending to 100,000 or a million subscribers. That makes email the most effective channel to reach audiences at scale—and explains email’s insane ROI. The latest numbers show that marketers get back $42 for every $1 they spend on email.

Attributing engagement and ROI is easier

The level of detail you can get from your email metrics is unmatched by most other channels—and there’s true power in that data.

Most marketing channels like social media or paid advertising only allow you to understand campaign performance on the highest level. For example, you might see how many impressions your paid ad received or how many people clicked through your post on LinkedIn. Beyond that, visibility falls off quickly.

In email marketing, you can measure overall campaign performance—like open, click-through, and conversion rates—but an email address as a unique identifier also lets you get a glimpse into each subscriber’s behavior and preferences. For each subscriber who interacts with your messages, you can learn what content resonates the most, how long they engage with your email, and whether or not your email leads to a conversion. You can understand performance on an individual level.

No other channel makes attributing engagement and ROI easier.

You get insights that can improve the effectiveness of other channels

When you’re running paid ads or social campaigns, one of the common goals is to get those unknown prospects to sign up for your email list. Why? So you can nurture them and learn more about who they are and what they care about.

Your subscribers are essentially a representation of the new prospects you’re trying to reach. What is most engaging to them from your email program—whether it’s content, design, or call-to-action—is more likely to break through all the other marketing noise competing for the attention of your target audiences in other channels.

The insights you get from your email subscribers can have a major impact on the performance of your marketing mix. We did this at Litmus, taking a blog post that generated high engagement in an email and using that same post in a paid ad campaign. The result? We more than doubled our average click-through-rate on those ads.

Email subscribers are an important source of real-time information to help inform the content and messaging most relevant to your prospects.

Make the most of your most powerful marketing channel

Despite the new marketing channels that arise, email marketing stands the test of time as a powerful marketing tool. The one-on-one relationship with an email subscriber who has opted-in to hear from your company leads to high ROI and easy attribution.

Want to learn more about how to make the most of your most powerful marketing channel? Talk to a Litmus expert for one-on-one advice on how to supercharge your email marketing program.

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