The end of email marketing?

Posted on Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gareth Parker

In 1971 the first ever email was penned and sent by Ray Tomlinson to himself. The contents? In Tomlinson's own words, "Utterly forgettable". 44 years, billions of emails and 1 movie later email is still going, but has our relationship with it fundamentally changed?

When I was a small child and had my first email account (AOL, for all of you wondering) I relished in receiving an email from a friend or even an unsolicited newsletter. They were fun, exciting, and novel. I now receive hundreds of emails per day spread between my personal and work accounts (Just Gmail now, sorry AOL) and these days I don't get quite as excited when I receive a standard marketing email. We may not enjoy receiving email as much as we used to, but has our relationship changed fundamentally with it over the last few years?

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After reviewing our stats from the last year it does seem that our relationship is changing, but possibly for the better. People are opening emails on their mobile devices with increasing regularity and the face of email design, and development has taken leaps and bounds in the last year. Let's take a look at some of the more important changes that the last year has seen in the world of email.

With the launch of new devices brings new challenges. Late 2014 saw the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple's largest devices to date. Email designers now have more screen space to play with (an extra 94 pixels in the case of the 6 Plus), but this adds an extra headache as instead of using two design sizes for email we're now having to adapt to three or even four which adds to the design and build time of any email. We've covered our views before as to if we think responsive design is worth the effort, and we firmly believe that this is now even more the case that it is worth putting the time in to design and develop high-quality responsive emails.

The darker side of email has been around since the early days of email and it's a universal truth that everyone dislikes spam, but no more so than Canada it seems. On July 1st Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came into effect, meaning that marketing messages that are unsolicited could be subject of a fine up to $10 million. Just last week we saw the website Plenty of Fish fined $48,000 for not complying with CASL in Canada. Email marketing needs to be treated with respect at all times, as badly executed campaigns can easily lead to poor customer retention and high unsubscribe rates no matter how big your brand.

In the late 1990s the "browser war" was starting to heat up, but over the last few years the "email client war" has started in earnest with mobile email clients taking the spotlight for the last few years. In 2014 the top email client was Apple Mail on iOS with 28% of global opens, with GMail second with 16% and Outlook moved into 4th place with 9%. Obviously this can vary greatly by market, with B2B still seeing very high open rates for more traditional clients such as Outlook. With this in mind, emails need to be designed and developed for the highest impact for the market you're working with.

So 2014 was a really progressive year for email, and it seems our relationship with email is changing, but arguably for the better. Email looks set to become even more relevant over the next 12 months and our marketing strategies need to keep up with these changes and continue to deliver relevant content.

Here at Miramar we look to make sure not a single one of our outbound emails is "Utterly forgettable". Here's to another 44 years of innovative and engaging emails.

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