March 24, 2021 6 min read
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“Email is dead.”
With almost 4 billion people now on social media, it’s easy to think that’s where businesses should focus most of their efforts. In fact, many experts even go as far as proclaiming that “Email is dead.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Over the last 15 years, email marketing has generated substantial returns for those who use it correctly. According to DMA, in 2020, the return on investment (ROI) from email marketing was a whopping 4,200 percent — or an average return of $42 for every $1 spent.
All this goes to show that email is not only not dead, but it’s actually thriving more than ever. And to prove this, we’ll take a look at three big companies that are crushing it with email marketing, and what one aspect is giving them their success.
1. BuzzFeed: segmentation
Originally known for quizzes and listicles, BuzzFeed has turned into a global media and tech company, covering various topics, including politics and business. But the substantial steps it made in the media world were only part of the explanation for its growth.
In fact, the company harnessed the power of email marketing automation. As a result, email became one of the top five referrers of traffic for the website.
The secret behind the success of BuzzFeed’s email marketing lies in its specificity. The company has developed more than 20 different email newsletter subscriptions. Each one caters to their subscribers’ specific interests, such as Food, Parents, BuzzFeed News, Pets and Animals, Health and Beauty, etc.
BuzzFeed’s marketing ethos is to share emotive and exciting stories. And it has realized email is one of the best ways to get these stories out there into the world. Segmenting its list so that its audience gets the content they want to see is one reason BuzzFeed’s newsletters are doing so well. After all, 56 percent of people unsubscribe from an email list because the content is no longer relevant to them.
There are two other reasons why BuzzFeed is crushing it with email marketing:
- Its preview texts always complement the subject lines, making open rates higher. For instance, if the subject line is a question, the preview text contains the answer.
- It sends short and snappy emails containing just a small snippet of each story, along with a link to entice readers to click and read the rest of the article.
All these make email visitors spend three minutes more on the site than those from other channels.
2. Uber: simplicity
Uber went public in 2019 with a $75.5 billion valuation. A big part of its success was the company’s marketing, especially its drip email campaigns.
The beauty of Uber’s emails lies in their simplicity. Newsletter subscribers get alerts about deals and promotions through very brief emails. Usually, their initial description is concise, and the company combines it with a very clear call-to-action (CTA) — which is perfect for readers who quickly skim emails.
However, the marketing guys behind Uber are smart because they know not everyone skims. So, for those email subscribers who would like to learn more, the short descriptions are followed by a more in-depth (but still very simple) step-by-step explanation of how the deal or promotion works.
Another thing that makes Uber’s emails so effective is how the design of the emails matches their branding. Like its website, mobile app, social media images, and other parts of its visual branding, the company’s emails contain geometric patterns in a range of bright colors.
All of Uber’s marketing assets and communications tell the brand’s story — and brand consistency is one strategy the company has mastered to gain brand loyalty. Loyalty leads to more trust. More trust leads to more engagement and more sales.
3. Marriott: personalization
Marriott International is the world’s leading hotel chain, advertising close to 7,500 properties across 131 countries and territories. While it serves anyone who needs a place to lay their head for a night, its ideal customer is a person who often travels for business.
The hospitality giant wanted to separate itself from what most other hotel chains were doing — sending extremely promotional emails with little to no personalization in each. So, Marriott’s team got together and created something much more member-centric yet presented in a fun and interesting way.
They decided to create a “This Year in Review” email campaign, which they shared with the Marriott Rewards newsletter list. This campaign was very personalized and included the guest’s own travel history in the Marriott system:
- The number of nights spent in a Marriott hotel
- The number of cities visited
- The number of reward points redeemed
- The number of Marriott properties the guest has visited
- The member’s total points
- The number of Marriott sub-brands the guest stayed in
The newsletter “This Year in Review” presented all these data simply and attractively. It helped reinforce member loyalty by showing them how faithful they have been. This was a powerful trigger to keep guests committed, and they started sharing their personalized travel history on social media.
The “This Year in Review” campaign didn’t have any sophisticated email copy, there were no fancy sales tactics, and it lacked a call to action. Despite all that, the campaign results were mind-blowing because when they launched it for the first time in December 2014, Marriott generated 86 percent more revenue than the previous two Decembers combined.
The key to crushing it with emails: personalization
At the end of the day, the success of email marketing campaigns boils down to authenticity and personalization. You can use dozens of software tools to monitor subscriber behavior, so you can target your emails more effectively and generate more sales.
However, if you take some time to go beyond just raw data and focus on the customers’ specific pain points, your campaign will hit home even more. Your readers will appreciate it, which can lead to a nice bump in your profits.