There’s no doubt that 2020 marks a big shift in product businesses. COVID-19 brought many changes to the way people shop.
People are online now more than ever. Even industries that thrived off of in-store purchases are shifting to a heavier online presence, and e-commerce is booming.
If you run a product business, focusing on strong online marketing strategies is more important now than ever. Limited in-store experiences have made it crucial to focus on building a strong online presence and taking advantage of online marketing options.
Email marketing in particular is excelling and growing, remaining one of the best online marketing options available.
Read on to find out the importance of email marketing in 2020 (and beyond), and how you can do it right to help your product business thrive.
Email Isn’t (And Hasn’t Been) Dead
Despite the catchy phrase, “email is dead,” online marketers have known for a while that the opposite is true.
Over 102.6 trillion emails are sent each year (a number that is increasing over time.) 99% of us check our email a minimum of once per day.
Despite the advent and increase of social media, email has consistently remained a more reliable marketing tool over the years.
While building up a social media presence is undoubtedly important, the numbers show that email leads to better engagement. The average social media engagement rate is just 0.58%, compared to an average 22.86 email open rate.
Even before COVID-19 shook things up and created more emphasis on online marketing, email was going to be a valuable strategy in 2020, and the foreseeable future. But after the pandemic started, that value skyrocketed.
The Pandemic’s Impact on Email
When the pandemic disrupted virtually every existing industry, email marketing stayed strong and flourished.
The average open rate, click-through rate, and email purchase rate have all increased since March. E-commerce purchases through email increased by a staggering 96.7%.
Consumers are even subscribing to new email lists more than ever before, with average sign-ups increasing by 34.9%.
This surge in online sales and email newsletter interest opens the doors for all product businesses to make a successful online shift and thrive even without face-to-face sales.
The beauty industry, for example, has always relied heavily on in-person purchases. Before this year, 85% of beauty sales happened in-store. Now, beauty companies will have to lean heavily on email marketing to stay afloat.
Email gives those companies the opportunity to continue to grow relationships with their customers and to keep them informed about the status of physical locations, changes to online ordering, and the future of their business.
Why Does Email Still Work?
So…why exactly does email consistently work, year after year, even in times of crisis? Besides the sheer vast reach of email, there are several other reasons.
One reason is that it gives consumers control. Unlike pop-up ads or social media posts, we choose when and where to open and read our emails. In a time when everyone is bombarded by ads, sales, and marketing messages, having control over what we choose to read is a nice change of pace.
It also offers more focus than social media. When a person opens and reads an email, that’s the only thing on the screen. Facebook ads are competing with a user’s feed, which is full of not just other advertisements, but also friends, family, politics, groups, and pages, sometimes all on the screen at once.
Your email list is something you own, unlike your social media outlets. It won’t go away based on someone else’s decisions, and it isn’t affected by algorithms.
Most importantly, when you email your list, you are reaching out to people who are already actively interested in your brand. Many of them are already existing customers. That means they are more likely to buy from you and to keep buying from you.
Email Pitfalls to Avoid
Email is definitely not going anywhere. But there are some pitfalls you want to avoid that will lead your list right to the unsubscribe button.
The top three reasons people unsubscribe from email lists are that they receive too many emails, the emails are no longer relevant, or they don’t recognize the brand. All of those reasons can be avoided by consistently putting out quality emails.
There is a sweet spot for how many emails to send. While some online gurus promote daily emails (or even more often,) the unsubscribe data trends show that less can be more. You don’t want your list to feel bombarded or harassed.
At the same time, you don’t want to pop up so rarely in the inbox that your list forgets who you are or doesn’t care about your brand.
The best approach is to make sure you’re emailing on a regular basis, 2-4 times per month, and doing more than just sending promotions or self-serving sales emails.
Build Trust and Engagement
Successful email marketing is about building up relationships and trust with people who are already interested in you and your brand. That means you need to provide value and engagement opportunities.
You can send product tutorials, exciting news, storytelling emails that share your personality and brand story, and blog posts that are relevant to your customer base and industry.
When you provide value, you build up a loyal customer base that will happily read your emails and, ultimately, make a purchase when the time comes.
Test and Make It Work for You
It’s clear that email marketing is going to be valuable for product businesses, in 2020, through the pandemic, and beyond.
You’ll have to experiment with different subject lines, email lengths, and email types. Test everything you do, analyze your data, find what’s working for you, and stick with it!