Does Email Marketing Still Work Anymore? 5 Reasons Email is Still King

does email marketing still work?
••• CactuSoup/Getty Images

Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Anik Singal. Additional comments by Brian Edmondson are indicated in italics.

Over 13 years ago, I started my first online business in my college dorm room. Since then, I have done over $100 million in sales online. When people ask me what the number one key is to my success, I have one response: my email list.

That was my answer 13 years ago and is still my answer today.

Yes, there is a lot of hype about social media. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media platforms have revolutionized the way we communicate online. They are all wonderful, and I use them in my business.

However, to this day, email marketing is my number one source of revenue. It’s what allows me to consistently have million dollar launches. It’s the foundation for my “Circle of Profit” system.

This continues to remain truer and truer as time goes on. Study after study shows that email marketing provides the greatest ROI of all online marketing activities; returning an average of $38 for every $1 spent. While you should constantly be testing new media methods don't ignore tried and true methods.

Update: In the last Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping cycle, email marketing was shown to convert at double the rate of social media as far as generating sales online.

I’m not the only one touting the power of email marketing. Most successful online marketers would tell you a similar story. Email is the foundation of their online business. According to Ascend2, 82% of the companies they surveyed use email marketing. Social media marketing comes down far lower at 67%. Even with all the new social media platforms, email marketing is still the king of online commerce.

In this article, I'm going to reveal five reasons why email marketing is essential to growing your business. It's also why I believe 10 years from now and beyond, email is still going to be at the core of online commerce. You are leaving money on the table if you are not using email marketing.

1. Everyone Still Checks Their Email

The first reason is simple: everyone checks their email. 91% of US customers use email daily. In fact, it's the first thing most people do at the start of each day. If some people weren't able to check their email, they wouldn't know what to do with themselves after they woke up!

The reason is simple: email is an effective way to communicate with people. Most people don't send their work colleagues Facebook messages – they send emails. When Amazon ships a product, they don't send a tweet, they send an email. People get information, updates and more via email.

There is no sign of this changing anytime soon. As a result, you will always have an opportunity to put your message in front of people via email.

The reasons mentioned above are one of the key reasons email outperforms all other channels, such as social media. Most people are accustomed to using email as a business and transactional medium, as opposed to social media.

We are even seeing trends of people leaving certain social media sites permanently or switching to other social sites; meaning you will lose the opportunity to connect with an audience you built on that platform and have to build a new audience on a new platform.

Contrast that with the fact that most poeple will use the same email address for most of their life.

2. Social Media Is More Powerful with Email

I love social media. Since the launch of my blog and Facebook fan page, I have been blown away by the response. My blog posts are widely read and shared; my Facebook fan page gives me a terrific opportunity to interact with my subscribers in a new way.

That has all translated into more revenue.

However, while social media has been great, it only works because I use it alongside email marketing.

The reason is because my social media and email lists feed off one another. You are able to make your email subscribers happy by linking to a piece of content on social media, and you're able to use social media to generate new leads for your email list.

That is why I highly recommend that online marketers have both an email list and a strong social media presence. If you can only pick one, however, I do recommend investing first in an email list because that is still the most powerful way to build an audience and get your message out.

This is an often overlooked opportunity by online marketers, using different channels to cross promote. As soon as you get a new email subscriber, you should invite them to like your Facebook page. Wrote a new blog post? Use social media to make notify your followers and drive them back to it. Constant cross promotion gives you more opportunities to reach your audience and constantly stay in front of them.

An advanced tactic you can use is to upload your database of email prospects and/or customers to social media networks and target your audience there; and even to build a "look-a-like" audience... an audience of people on social media who very closely resemble your actual audience.

3. You’ll Stay on Your Subscriber’s Radar

Social media is great for interacting with people when they are enthusiastic about you. However, because Facebook filters posts and you need to put effort into visiting a blog, your subscribers will not always see new posts you make on those platforms.

Email is more passive. Everyone checks their email. Every email you send will appear in front of your subscribers. All they need to do is open it. That's it.

That means you are always on their radar. They are consistently presented with opportunities to read your messages, which gives you more opportunities to make sales.

This trend is only getting worse and worse. Social media platforms are becoming more pay-to-play and free methods of social media marketing are becoming less and less effective. Email marketing, as the title of their article suggests, is still king.

Another thing to consider is using social media from a paid standpoint. It's getting more and more expensive to advertise on social media networks as they grow and become more popular, but the cost of email marketing only increases slightly as you grow your list.

4. You Can Generate Revenue by Clicking a Few Buttons

When you have an email list, you have the power to generate revenue with the click of a button. I have hundreds of thousands of people on my email list. If I want to make money, all I have to do is send a promotional email to my subscribers. A certain percentage of them will buy, and I’ll get a surge in revenue.

While you can do this to some extent on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, you won't get as good of results. Because of their filters, only a certain percentage of your audience on those sites will even see your message. Your conversion rates will be higher with email. According to Campaign Monitor, an email is 6x more likely to get a click through than a tweet.

As long as you build a proper relationship with your email list, they will be happy to get those promotions.

One of my favorite quotes by John Lennon is when he said, "Today, let's write a swimming pool.", referencing his ability to write a song to generate revenue. The same is true with email marketing. You can write an email, press the send button, and generate revenue on demand. 

5. You can Tailor Your Message to Your Customers

One of the best parts about email marketing is the ability to target your customers. Your customers reveal their preferences by the kinds of emails they open the kinds of links they click on. With this data, you can segment your email subscribers into different groups. You can then send emails that are tailored towards the wants and needs of those specific segments.

You cannot do this with other types of social media. Whatever message you post on Facebook will go out to all of your fans. Whatever tweet you put out will go to all of your Twitter followers. Whatever blog post you put up is visible to all the readers of your blog.

Email is not like that. You can be far more strategic with your emails, which makes it a more effective way to deliver your message. This translates into more effective marketing. According to eMarketer, emails prompt purchases 3x as often as social media.

If you're not using an email service provider to manage your email list and using segmentation, targeting, and tagging your subscribers based on interests and behaviors then you're leaving a lot of potential money on the table.

Most third-party email service providers allow you to segement your lists, do behavioral based targeting, and a handful of other automations to help you ensure you are showing the right message, to the right person on your email list, at the right time.

Take Your Business to the Next Level With Email Marketing

As you can see, email marketing is a powerful tool to expand your online business. Even with all the hype about social media, I still firmly believe email marketing is king. That’s why it is at the center of my book The Circle of Profit, which reveals the step-by-step system I used to build my $10 million/year business.

I anticipate this will be the case going forward as well. Email is NOT going out of style. If you want to truly succeed online, then you need to learn email marketing and apply it to the right online business model.

Editor's Note: Anik Singal, founder and CEO of Lurn, Inc., is widely considered as one of today’s most successful digital publishing marketers. His specialties include profit-generating product launches, building backends and funnels, article marketing, search engine optimization, affiliate marketing and business management consulting.