Is Email Marketing Dead?


Every once in a while you stumble across an article declaring that “Facebook is dead!” or “Email is played out” or even, “Google is no longer the powerhouse in search”. To all of those, I say phooey. There might be elements of your marketing strategy you need to re-evaluate due to changes on various platforms, but this does not indicate one method being dead. It simply means it’s evolved.

As a result, we’ve changed a lot about our email marketing strategy — and the results have been stellar. There was no one single fix, it was a series of changes we implemented to help boost results, and below I will share them with you.

1. Test different templates
If I went back and looked through the last few months of emails we’ve sent, I would probably find 5-6 variations of templates we’ve tried (we actually just changed it again a couple of weeks ago). We stuck to a few things that worked, like the logo on the top left and large images with snippets of the articles as teasers, but we started playing with order and lead article. We ran tests to see which had higher engagement and went with the winner.

The reason why we’re probably not set on one template yet is because we’re a company that likes to test and tinker, but if you’ve been using the same template for over a year, you might want to reconsider. OH… and make sure your templates are ALWAYS mobile responsive.

2. Clean your list
We had a VERY large list of email addresses 6 months ago. It was a selling point, but as we started to dig, it became clear that only ⅓ of our list was actually opening and engaging with our content. We ran a few “wake the dead campaigns” to see if we could get un-engaged users to take action, and got a few responses, but not many. This could be due to invalid email addresses or just subscribers who weren’t interested.

So, with the new year came a purge. We cut down our list to only engaged and qualified addresses and our deliverability rate jumped from 50% to 99%. We plan on doing more cleaning up and segmenting to ensure that we deliver the most relevant content to our users. Don’t be afraid to clean and even dump email addresses and then focus on collecting more qualified ones with subscription tools.

3. Streamline your content
As I mentioned above, we tested templates quite a bit. But we also tested our content. We try to highlight content that’s the most useful for a broad range of users, mixed with content that might appeal to smaller sets underneath the lead article. We also keep it simple. Trying to shove too much stuff into one email communication can overwhelm a user. Highlight the most important things and leave it at that.

4. Increase frequency
One way to alleviate the amount of content you put in your email is to increase frequency. We went from a monthly email to a weekly communication and have actually maintained a 40% open rate and 35% read rate. We see an increase in traffic to our blog and communication goes up as a result on a weekly basis. Weekly emails have also become a source of conversions for us while engaging our audience at the same time. This doesn’t include promotional emails, which we do less frequently, but try to make timely (see below).

5. Add a sense of urgency
We noticed that our activations increased if we added a limited window to use a promotion code. In fact, by simply adding a sense of urgency we increased our upgrades by 300%. Now, I know that all kinds of elements come into play with these kinds of increased performances, but it’s still not a shabby number! Make your visitor take an action by only offering it for a short period of time.

That’s what we’ve tried so far, but the year is young. If I know one thing, it’s that we’re never done testing and trying new things until all numbers are at 100%. And even then, we’ll probably keep tinkering.

What have you done that’s helped increase email performance?

  • Katie

    I absolutely agree! Email is far from dead but will constantly be changing. Like you, we’ve tweaked templates and regularly test which ones produce a higher click-through and conversion rate. But you mention testing frequency and I think it’s also important to test date and time as well – does sending on a Thursday morning before noon generate more conversions than Tuesday after 3pm? You don’t know until you try.

  • Thanks for your comment, Katie! Absolutely. Testing and tracking date and time are also important factors. Have you been able to find a sweet spot yet with your email communications?

  • Nouman Younas

    nice… also suggest some smart tools for email marketing

  • Nouman Younas

    I have more than 10k email which i collected through giveaways on my blog.. how can i utilize them? They are nt subscribers

  • Good stuff. I agree!

  • nkamel

    Send them a welcome personalised email, like Dear {first name}, telling them why they are receiving this email, and a link to subscribe. Don’t forget to put some hot content in the email, otherwise they will ignore you. Why would they join your list?

  • danielsucio

    I’ve been using many tools for collecting email adresses and also sending to generic adresses and my content soon got the SPAM label. I recently found a tool that applies some heuristic stuff to evade spam filters and my reach ratio got increased. That should be pointed out too. The tool is called mailsquab and works great even after trying many other such as mailchimp or vertical response.

  • Nouman Younas

    Okk. Thank you… i ll forward this method to my team :)

  • Thanks AddThis for this post. I learnt a lot from it.

  • That’s awesome to hear! Stay tuned for more great stuff :)

  • Phil_Stone00

    Email marketing is definitely not dead! I get great results with both MailChimp and FreshMail that proves it…..

  • That’s awesome to hear! Have you tried out any of the suggestions we listed above to increase your performance?

  • Phillip Aldridge

    The money is in the list, the “Email List”.

    You can have tons of hits on your site, but an email subscriber is worth tons more.
    If they don’t subscribe, they may like what you say.

  • Hi Phillip, we agree that email subscribers are valuable, which is why we made it so our Custom Message tools can help site owners grow their lists. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • SortingHat

    What killed email marketing was the trend that automatic bots are a *miracle* cure which they are not in stopping spam. All the older generations know “Garbate in Garbage out” but today’s generations are being taught to be *cool* and *hip* to discourage working hard and discourage taking responsibility.

    Getting rid of the human factor in spam seach in order to save time and money only leads to long term frustration and hate so people wen to twitter and tumbler which are now doing the same automatic thing making people frustrated again at the services.

    I have been caught up in spam filters likely for keywords I don’t know what is banned so I have to use a fake email just to even get posted.

    I have found out that Word Press tends to be notorious for making people’s comments *vanish* for no reason to the point many blog owners if they have been around long enough to get *flagged* wind up having to have to set each comment manually including their own if they reply to another comment!

    I tend to speak out against big corporations so that probably triggers it due to being rather *vocal* about the corruption and filth plaguing the web which I won’t bet into here as I don’t want to be labeled.

  • SortingHat


    However before automatic anti spam bots appeared the trend was in the real big corporation market places where they often hired non english speaking people in tech control centers giving you the run around pretending (or do they really) not know a thing your talking about?

    Now these same companies use automatic filters and bots to do the work of humans as if it was manna from heaven.

    I always joked and said it would be the end of capitalism when they outsource 911 and you have to be routed by a guy speaking India that is hard to hear and he can’t hear you very well either.