Why Email Marketing Still Works in 2023 – And It Will Work in 2033 Too

Every so often, someone will say “email marketing is dead.”

And I laugh because there’s zero evidence of email going away – or even slowing down.

Email marketing works in 2023 because it gives marketers the highest ROI of any tool, and gives you the best data. Over 4 billion people use email every day, and that number is expected to rise in the future, which is driving massive growth at email marketing companies. And while many view social media as a threat to email marketing, they work hand-in-hand.

If you think email is dead… you are just wrong. Let’s dive into the numbers before we learn why email marketing still works in 2023.

Email Marketing Industry Statistics

According to industry data from Statista there are 4.26 billion email users worldwide, and that number is expected to grow to 4.73 billion in 2026. That’s over half the people on Earth. And over 333 billion emails are sent per day.

Email marketing was a $7.5 billion industry in 2020, and it’s expected to grow 13.3% annually to $17.9 billion by 2027.

And remember, we have so many ways to communicate – text messaging, Slack, Whatsapp, etc. – yet we keep using email more and more. (I discuss why below) 

Countless other indications show that the email industry is booming:

Email Marketing Companies Are Growing at Warp Speed

Email newsletter company Beehiiv was launched in October 2021 and has been growing at 42% per month. Beehiiv’s been so hot that it raised $12.5 million from LightSpeed Venture Partners.

Substack’s network has over 35 million active subscriptions, including 2 million paid subscriptions.

Morning Brew’s flagship newsletter has over 4 million subscribers.

Google Trends data shows steady growth in searches for “email marketing” over the past 5 years.

email marketing search volume

Hubspot, which is a publicly-traded CRM/email marketing company, has been growing sales at a 30%+ rate for years.

Klaviyo is said to be going public in 2023.

In its Q3 2023 SEC filing, Intuit said “Online Services revenue increased 21% in the third quarter of fiscal 2023 primarily due to an increase in revenue from our Mailchimp, payroll, and payments offerings. Mailchimp revenue increased due to higher effective prices and customer growth.“

So MailChimp is the primary growth driver for Intuit’s Online Services revenue.

Email Is a Major Player in the App Landscape

GMail is the 6th most popular app in Apple’s App Store – getting more downloads than Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, ChatGPT, and Facebook.

gmail in apple ios app store

And what do you need to enter every time you sign up for an App?

Your email address. 

Because social media companies know that email is the best way to communicate with you.

Social Media Companies Love Email Marketing

In fact, did you know that social media companies love to use email marketing?

Here’s LinkedIn promoting their ad services to me over email:

email marketing on linkedin

Gmail has a specialized “Social” folder because social media companies send so much email.

It doesn’t stop there. 

Did you know that dating apps use email notifications to get you swiping again?

dating apps email marketing

Google Uses Email Marketing Too

Google has all the ad space in the world on its search results pages, inside Gmail, and on YouTube.

But Google uses email marketing too:

Google ads email marketing

Retailers Want Your Email Address

When you buy clothes at the Gap or Uniqlo, what do they ask for at checkout?

Your email address.

When you shop online, you get offered a discount in exchange for your email address

ecommerce email marketing

When you read a book, you get invited to visit a website to get bonus materials… where you’ll be asked for your email.

Everyone wants your email address, but why? We’ll get to that in just a minute.

Right now you’re asking…

Why Is Email Marketing Growing So Fast? 

ROI for email marketing

It’s simple math.

According to Constant Contact, the average ROI for email marketing is 36X.

So if you spend $1 on email marketing, you get $36 back.

And that may be conservative in many cases. 

I have seen successful companies earn over 200X on their email marketing spend.

If you were generating a 36X return on ANYTHING, you’d invest in it, right?

So let’s ask the big question:

Why Does Email Marketing Work?

Let’s start with the most obvious thing in the world:

People Are Addicted to Email (Remember the CrackBerry?)

I don’t know about you, but I check my email first thing in the morning.

99% of email users check their inboxes every day, says MailButler. And professionals check their email 15 times a day.

Interaction workers (high-skill knowledge) spend 28% of their days reading and answering emails, according to McKinsey.

This feels like an extension of checking our physical mailboxes. 

But instead of getting letters and bills and cards once a day, we get it all day long.

That means a nonstop dopamine rush.

Ever hear the term “CrackBerry?”

That’s what busy executives call their BlackBerry devices – because real-time email was addicting.

Email Engagement Rates Are Sky-High

Email engagement can be 10X higher vs. what you get on social media.

I’m happy with a 5% engagement rate on a specific Tweet.

But with email, I am for 60% open rates — and i get ‘em:

email open rates

*note that open rates are not 100% accurate – but they still have value

Email’s high engagement rate makes it perfect for nurturing customers and building relationships.

Human Beings Like to Buy Stuff

Speaking of dopamine, a great way to get it is to buy something.

According to the Journal of Consumer Research, consumer get very excited before they buy things.

When I open my email inbox, I have the opportunity to chase that rush.

Retail therapy is a real thing:

Cialdini’s Principle of Commitment & Consistency Explains Commitment to Email

Robert Cialdini, who authored “Influence,” my favorite marketing and persuasion book, said this:

“Once people make a decision, take a stand or perform an action, they will face an interpersonal pressure to behave in a consistent manner with what they have said or done previously”.

Consistency relates to email because to join an email list, you have to show remarkable consistency.

To even get to an email optin page, you have to read an article, watch a video, or click on an ad.

Then you have to voluntarily enter your email address, and in the case of double opt-in, confirm that email address a second time.

In other words, you are self-identifying as a fan.

So the principle of Commitment & Consistency would drive you to consume emails for which you sign up.

This is different than social media because you can follow people immediately on Instagram or TikTok.

With email, you have to do more work to sign up which implies a deeper relationship.

Email Lets You Send Highly-Targeted Messages to Very Specific Audiences

What’s the biggest problem with social media?

Unless you pay for ads, you can’t decide who sees your messages.

But with email, you can segment your list a million different ways.

Say you have an email list dedicated to golf.

You can send emails to people who expressed interest in your new online course on putting.

Or only to people who have bought from you in the past.

Or only to contacts that have clicked in the past 30 days.

So you can create very specific messages for very specific audiences.

That’s why every influencer and content creator needs an email list.

Email Gives You Unrivaled Testing Capabilities

Another disadvantage of social media is that you can’t test anything unless you buy ads.

But email marketing lets you A/B test EVERYTHING, including:

  • Email subject lines
  • Email preview text
  • Email content
  • Email format
  • Time of day
  • Day of the week
  • Who the email is from
  • Different email list segments

So you can split-test your way to success – just make sure you test big things!

Email Gives You Data on EVERYTHING

email marketing data

Email lets you know who’s opening your emails, who’s clicking your emails, who’s buying, and who wants nothing to do with you.

Plus you can track your open rates and click rates over time so you have an ongoing view of your performance.

Plus, all of this data is easy to understand.

Email Marketing Lets You Fail At Zero Cost

Most email service providers let you send unlimited email broadcasts:

convertkit unlimited email sends

So if your email fails, guess what?

You can just write another email because it costs you nothing other than a little time.

When your email bombs, nobody knows. And if they did know, they’d forget 5 minutes later.

That makes email incredibly forgiving.

You’ve got to do something monumentally goofy to cause permanent damage.

Writing Emails Is Easy and Fast

An average writer can create a solid sales email in under 30 minutes.

Great writers can crank them out in under 10.

And that writer can send the email themselves in an app like ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit.

Compare that with creating, editing, and distributing videos. (which might be sent out by email anyway!)

Plus, if you’re just getting started, email marketing is easy to learn. (most people just do it wrong)

Why Email Marketing Works in 2023, and Why It Will Work in 2033 Too

If email’s made it this far, it’s not going anywhere.

Email first gained widespread prominence in the 1990’s – 10+ years before Gmail was announced.

Fun fact: Gmail was announced on April 1, 2004 so some folks thought it was a prank.

Since then, we’ve been given all sorts of ways to communicate, including:

  • Text messaging (which didn’t take off until the smartphone boom)
  • Communications apps like Whatsapp, WeChat, and Kik
  • Video calling services like Zoom, Google Meets, and Skype
  • Work messaging apps like Slack
  • Project management tools like Asana and Trello

And through it all, email never skipped a beat.

Email has so much competition for our attention… and yet email is still growing like crazy.

The world runs on email.

And that’s not stopping in the next 10 years.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}