During 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.
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?