Big Marketing Ideas Blog


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Email Marketing - The Future or Necessary Evil?

Email VS Direct MailDuring 2009, the U.S. spent $13.4 billion of direct marketing dollars on email marketing. Some estimate email marketing's average ROIm is as much at 40X. That's quite a return. However, speaking to the average consumer (as well as the average B2B buyer), email is the last medium they would like marketers to employ. So, is email marketing the future of direct marketing or just a necessary evil?

For marketers, email represents a way of touching subscribers at home, at work and (thanks to smartphones) on the go. It's also significantly less expensive than traditional direct mail marketing. However appealing email marketing may be, it does have a few challenges:

  • Slow List Building - CAN-SPAM Act requires marketers build their own opt-in lists
  • Easy List Attrition - Opt-ins can unsubscribe permanently from your list at any time
  • Email Filters - Even the most basic email filters catch wanted emails by mistake
  • Low Activation - Although easy to click, email is not a proven medium to activate a new purchase cycle.
Email marketing best practices can help overcome many of these challenges (see JDM's "Design Your Email for Delivery & Response" email marketing best practice article). However, traditional direct mail has few (if any) of these drawbacks, but many still regard it as too expensive or even antiquated.

Fact is, they are not mutually exclusive.

At JDM, our feeling is that email marketing will never fully replace direct mail. Rather, these mediums work best when they work together. Our research has show that in every respect,
integrated direct marketing (e.g. email, online and direct mail together) performance is greater than the sum of its parts.

What do you think? Is email marketing the future of direct marketing or potentially its undoing?


  1. Check out this integrated direct marketing case study on JDM's portfolio website.

  2. Email is great. I hate email. It's woven into the very fabric of my day. I wish it were never invented sometimes. Email creates huge productivity gains in the knowledge economy. I spend more time on email than any other single activity. As a marketer email is a god send. I am daily abused by email marketers. Email is great...

  3. Absolutely Jonathan! Who doesn't have a love/hate relationship with email?

  4. Without sending emails we cant survive.So email marketing is a must.


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