Guide

Email marketing

Advantages and disadvantages of email marketing

Marketing your products or services by email can be a fast, flexible and cost-effective way of reaching new customers and retaining existing customers.

Email marketing allows you to create more targeted and personalised messages. This can help you to build more meaningful relationships with your customers. It can also improve response rates to your direct marketing campaigns.

However, it is important not to overuse email marketing. Receiving marketing emails can irritate people if it is irrelevant, too frequent or unwanted.

Advantages of email marketing

The benefits of email marketing include:

  • Flexible design - you can send plain text, graphics or attach files - whichever suits your message best. The design options help you to convey your business branding.
  • Scalable – email marketing can be used to reach large audiences or smaller targeted lists.
  • Shareable – it’s easy for people to forward, building your reputation by word of mouth or viral marketing.
  • Conversions - people can click on links and follow your call to action immediately.
  • Measurable – it’s easy to attribute value to a campaign by using web analytics software. You can easily test different copy, subject lines and design and see which is most effective. This allows you to optimise future campaigns.
  • Less intrusive - unlike telephone marketing, recipients can read your message at a time that suits them.
  • Cost- effective – the costs of email marketing can be much lower than many other forms of marketing. There are no printing or media space costs.
  • Environmentally-friendly – email marketing is much better for the environment than direct marketing by postal mail because nothing is printed.
  • Time saving – through automation you can trigger emails to be sent to users based on an action they have performed on your website eg. welcome email when a user signs up to your website or an email offering a discount incentive if user abandons an online shopping cart  

Disadvantages of email marketing

Some of the potential problems of email marketing include:

  • Spam - unsolicited commercial email or 'spam' irritates consumers. If your messages aren’t targeted to the right people, the recipient may delete your email or unsubscribe. You need to make sure that your email marketing complies with privacy and data protection rules, and that it is properly targeted at people who want to receive it. The 'click through rate' for untargeted or cold emails is likely to be very low.
  • Undelivered emails - poorly designed emails may not get delivered. Emails that use certain spam keywords in the subject heading or content of the email are likely to be filtered out by email software and internet service providers. If you don’t keep your marketing lists up to date, you will find incorrect email addresses mean your messages won’t reach the right person.
  • Design problems – Your email must be designed so that it appears as it should across multiple devices and email providers.  You may encounter a trade-off between design and functionality. Some people opt to receive text-only emails, consider how your message will look if this is the case.  
  • Size issues - files need to be small enough to download quickly. Emails with a lot of images may take too long load, losing your audience’s interest.
  • Resources and skills – for a successful email campaign you must ensure that you have the right copy, design and marketing list. If you don’t have the time or skills in-house, consider outsourcing some of these elements.