This website requires JavaScript to deliver the best possible experience.
Introduction to email marketing

Introduction to email marketing

Email is one of the most important communication channels that ever existed on this planet. But do you have an idea about how was the communication before the the internet and technological era? Let’s discover it together.

Messages Carriers

In the ancient ages, people used to communicate through written documents carried by one person to another almost certainly dates back nearly to the invention of writing.The First Organized system for distributing those documents was first known in Egypt and used by the pharaohs to cascade down their decrees in the territories of the states.

During this period, the scribe profession was widely known and the business of scribes has been going on in places like China, India and other places for literally thousands of years where common people went to scribes to send letters.

When the letters finally reach their destinations, the recipients collect the letters from their local scribes. And in exchange for a little more coins, the scribes will read the letters back to the recipients.Widespread illiteracy did not mean that written correspondence was useless (Similarly, people today can benefit from the Internet without having Internet access themselves.

Carrier Pigeon

In the 12th century AD Sultan Nur-ed-din built pigeon lofts and dovecotes in Cairo and Damascus, where pigeons were used to carry messages from Egypt to cities as far away as Baghdad in modern day Iraq. This extensive communication system, which used pigeons to link cities hundreds of kilometers apart, is recognised as the first organised pigeon messaging service of it’s kind. Pigeons also played a pivotal part in both WWI and WWII, unerringly delivering vital messages that helped to save the lives of thousands of civilians and combatants alike. One such bird — ‘GI Joe’ was awarded the Dicken Medal for bravery by the Lord Mayor of London for saving over 1,000 British soldiers in World War II.

Carrier Pigeon

Postal Services

Afterwards, The postal service came to live but it was not founded in its conventional form.

In the 1st century , Augustus established the “ Cursus Publicus” which was a series of stations along the road connecting the regions of the Roman World, and was mainly used to transport not only messages but also officials and tax revenues. Over the decades, the service was evolved from being exclusively used by the emperors to being available for the public's.This was in the 17th century when Charles I made the royal Mail available to the public for the first time.

In 1775, People came to realize that the Royal System was unfair and expensive and that was a motive for colonists to establish United States Postal Service ( USPs) and the continental congress appointed Benjamin Franklin to be the 1st US postmaster general.

Ways of mail delivery varied a lot over the years, from horseback riding to trains, automobiles and lately airmail in 1911.

Mail was the Chief of communication even when telegraph appeared. That was all until when the internet was born in 1991 and brought with it a faster, more compelling way of communication, Emails.


Emails came as an extension to this long communication methods channel, so it wasn’t a new invention it was basically an evolution of the old methods. The idea was first introduced to the public in 1965 in MIT university then the first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson On ARPANET. The copyrights of email goes to Shiva Ayyadurai who invented the first full-scale electronic emulation of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system consisting of: Inbox, Outbox, Folders, the Memo, Attachments, etc., the email we all experience today in every email program. And on August 30, 1982, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai received official recognition as the inventor of email from the U.S. government for his 1978 invention.

By 1971, Emails were a more effective communication channel than postal service as it’s more dynamic and doesn’t take long to be delivered. As a Result, In 1977, and only after 6 years , U.S Postal Stated that Email is considered as a threat on the volumes of mails.

During the first years of the internet, email was only available to people who fit into specific groups: college students using their college email address or employees who were able to use corporate email addresses. The second group typically had significant limitations on how they could use their email and whom they could communicate with. Email was not a ―pick up and go anywhere‖ type of communication. But that All changed in 1996 when HoTMaiL was released as the first web-based email system, and suddenly email was available to anybody who had access to the internet.A year later in 1997, Microsoft purchased HoTMaiL for four hundred million dollars and renamed it MSN Hotmail, also in the same year Yahoo! Was launched to steel the lights and take a share of Email users.

Meanwhile, Some people Still wonder, “ Do people still use email in today's world?” the answer is Definitely YES! There has been a massive increase in the number of email users and it can be simply noticed by looking back at 1978 when there were only 2 Email accounts in the whole world and comparing it to Radicati Group study which states that from January 2017, there will be more than 3.7 billion email users worldwide by the end of the year. The number of email users worldwide is forecasted to rise to 2.9 billion users by 2019. (Source: Statista, 2016) That means that nearly 54% of the entire planet is currently using email. And around 205 billion email messages are sent per day which means almost 2.4 million emails are sent every second -and so 74 trillion emails are sent per year. That’s huge!

This Static doesn’t only answer this question but also makes it undoubtable that Email is one of the best Marketing channels any business can capitalize on to generate sales,retain and acquire new customers. But that was obvious in the past as well.

Email began as a communications tool for academic and business purposes, it soon became a tool for personal communications among friends, relatives and even people who had never met in real life! As people began to spend more and more time using email as their primary communications tool, smart marketers realized that email communications were the future of marketing communications and began to make the shift into using email as a way to effectively communicate with customers.

What is email marketing?

Later, the term Email Marketing spread widely and was used to describe the use of electronic emails to send commercial messages to current,potential or previous customers. And generally we can say that Email Marketing is any message sent with the intention of gaining customer’s loyalty, making the brand recognizable or doing brand awareness.

Email Marketing is more than just a good content and unique design because it reaches your customer inbox directly and it’s more about respecting the trust that subscribers gave to you to put an email in his inbox.

Benefits of Email Marketing

1. Directed

In Email Marketing world you’re the one controlling who receives your messages. This segmentation feature helps when you want your message to be directed to a specific group with a certain consumer-behaviour. The method of “ Spray and pray” is no longer effective in a world full of communication channels where everyone wants to grab the customer's attention. And unless you want your message to be left unread in the inbox for years, you need to put some effort in segmenting your customer’s list . Sending the right email to the right customer at the right time to fulfill his/her needs is what will generate more sales to your company.

2. Increase brand awareness

You can design your campaigns so with every mail sent your customers gets to know you better and recognize your brand by receiving a piece of your business value proposition every time. That’s how your customer could link his needs to what your offers which helps in turning your regular customer to a strong loyal strong promoter.

3. Shareable

All it takes to share an email offer you like with a friend is a click on “ Forward” button and this also all your brand needs to be well promoted.

4. Measurable

Email Marketing allows you to test the results even before sending it through a preview and test option.

Although it was hard in the past to effectively measure the effectiveness of Email Marketing as targeted markets can’t be adequately defined. Nowadays things are completely different. There’s many analytics tools and metrics to be used inside email software . Also,we know the things we need to measure to calculate our efficiency has become crystal clear (ex: how many people opened the mail, how many people clicked a link and what is the most clickable link, how many complained received about a spam and what is the conversion from clicking a link to filling the form and completing the purchase).

You can also use the entire Email campaign as a measure to know what customers interact with the most and want to receive more of.

Email campaigns

5. Cost effective

Think about it, in the past in order to send an email you had to incur the expenses of printing , distribution and postal fees which was a lot considering you’re going to send thousands of email to acknowledge your customers of a new product launch or Christmas offer. And worse, after you pay this fortune, your emails might not end up in your customer's hands on the right time. Today, you don’t need to worry about all this. All you need is a button click. No print Costs. No postage fees. Only High ROI.

It doesn’t only cost less in terms of many but also time. Imagine you’re conducting telesales to +1000 clients to offer them a premium feature. It would take you a lot of work days to get the job done. Email Marketing makes promoting your products done in a couple of hours. It also saves the effort of your human resources, as sending mails to a long recipients list is not a job that requires a lot of people to be accomplished like telesales.

6. Real-time messages

If you’re going to use Email marketing for special offers there’s no need for using “long tail” ones, as once you click send you’re already your targeted audience unlike telesales and Mail ads which takes along delivery time and more time to get a respond.

7. Personalized message

We’re not talking about the content being relevant only but email itself is customized for the client especially. The more information you know about your clients, the more you can make mail customization more effective. You can go beyond using your customer's first name in the email and send them special offers in their birthdays or even go further by joining your personalized message to a personalized landing page.

8. Faster creation phase

Creating an Email Marketing campaign is a lot easier and doesn’t consume much time in preparation like Mass Media Campaigns. It allows you to keep in touch with your customers on a more regular basis at a lower cost. But make sure you don’t over do it as it might be considered a spam.

9. Environment best friend

Some people might think of it as a secondary reason to use email marketing, but for the companies in recycling industry or organisations that cares about the environment using Email is a way better than other marketing methods than might be damaging for the environment

10. Accessible everywhere

Hubspot study estimates that 53% prefers using mobile while checking their emails which means customers are looking for mobility. When you do a marketing campaign you’ll want your targeted audience to reach it whenever and wherever they’re. If you rely on TV ads ,billboards or even social media a lot of people will miss your product or service.

11. Call to action

Did you ever experience a marketing method that transfers your customers towards a direct purchase in two clicks ?

Well, Email Marketing does.Through an attractive Call to action button and relevant message you can direct your customers towards buying from you directly without any delay as People are impulsive, and including an incentive like a call to action (“Call us now!”) can be the impetus for your reader to take action.

12. Opt out or unsubscribe

If you didn’t like a TV or billboard ad you can’t just go and ask the company to remove it. This doesn’t happen in real life! Well, it does happen but only in Email Marketing! In case the customer didn’t like what you’re offering he can easily Opt out. This might seem like a loss , but what you were going to do with a not-interested customer? Remember that it’s always better to get an unsubscribe than to be marked as a spam.

13. Expected and wanted

Your customers are expecting to receive your offers on Email. According to a study made by Adobe’s in August 2015, that showed 63% of customers still prefer to receive offers through email.

14. Return on investment (ROI)

Although there is still a deliverability challenge, a recent study by Econsultancy reveals that agency Professionals and In-house Marketers relays on Email Marketing as it has a high ROI at 80% and 73% for both of them respectively. This is why some businesses started shifting towards Email marketing after it has achieved 23% of the overall sales with only 16% investments.It seems like the future of email marketing is promising but marketers still have to find the best way to measure Email efficiency as the increase in ROI comes from the increase in the users data base and market penetration.

Evolution of Email

Spam History

The evolution of Email marketing differs from the evolution of Email as the first tackles how Email was used over years in promoting products, generating sales and converting leads to customers.

The History of Email Marketing is rich and proves how email can be one of the strongest and adaptable marketing channels for businesses. Since Ray Tomlinson sent the first email in 1971 many changes occurred starting from Gary Thuerk “ The Father of spam” who used Email to promote DEC Machines which was a new T-series of Vax systems in 1978.He asked his assistant Carl Gartley to send an ALL CAPS Email to 400 users via ARPANET.This technique generated 13 million worth of sales which was a huge number back then.

In 1991,Hotmail was launched allowing more people to have emails and providing the marketers with a new B2C platform.

In 1998, spam began to arise as the number of promotional emails sent increased to an annoying level which made The Data Protection Act follow new methodology and include an Opt-Out option to reduce mail complaints as it was a widespread phenomenon and even the word Spam was added to Oxford English Dictionary.

By late noughties, IPS introduced a range of methods to protect email recipients from spam mails which made the marketer's’ job more difficult.

In 2003, more firm regulations and rules were introduced like the CAN-SPAM law parallel to the privacy & electronic communications regulations in Europe defining the rules for marketing permissions.In the following year, sender policy framework( SPF) was introduced providing an Email Validation system to help prevent Email Spam.At the same time, AOL started handing feedback to email service providers in order to help them improve their efficiency of avoiding spam complaints, later Yahoo! And Hotmail developed their own feedback schemes to customize and control feedbacks in a better way. In this era, email marketers shifted from Spray and Pray strategy to a more anti-spam strategy as they wanted their email to be more noticed and this is what marketers tried to do in 2001 by sending the first behavioral email.

In 2009, Return path reported nearly 30% of commercial emails sent to users didn’t reach inbox so marketers still had to change their style and work their email reputation or they would still end up marked as a spam.

Eventually in 2010, 48% of email were all triggered to this new technique.

Email and Smartphones

In 1992, Smartphones came to life and made it possible for everyone to access their emails from almost anywhere and as a result, the number of email users increased.

You can easily notice the relation by comparing between the statics of Iphone sales in 2011 -which was over 100 million device- and the rapid increase in email users up to 75% through smartphones.

Email and Social Media

In 2006, facebook was launched and positioned itself in a very short time as one of the strongest social media channels.

In the beginning Facebook was a more personal platform until some businesses started using it as a marketing channel in the late period of 2007.

This placed social media in a comparison position with email marketing and urged marketers to started collecting data and numbers in order to determine which method was better & highly effective. And this when the importance of analytics and data started to arise making a marketing strategy more effective when based upon statics.

Email Marketing in the present

Email marketing is now more mature and engaging thanks to marketers efforts along the years. Although it might vary from an Email Campaign to another but these features is what shapes today’s email. Starting from an image oriented emails, to inserting pixel arts and videos which performed well and increased the email open rates by 19%.

Recently GIFs were included as well as count downs with offers and events invitations to make the email more interactive and personalized.

Apple also contributed to shaping the look of today’s email, when it introduced The Retina Display with the launch of Iphone 4 and revolutionized how images were viewed.

Email Marketing in the future

Experts predict that Email Marketing has the ability to survive for +10 years than Facebook and other marketing channels.According to a study made by litmus, consumers who aged 25-34 years old predicted that Email chances of survival were 72.1% and generally 70% of the entire selected group thought email will continue growing while 67.6% only thought the same for Facebook.

The study also viewed the future of email as a more organized and effective marketing tool.For instance, they predict email readers to be more neat with a relevant display basis that rely on data collected from the user behavior. So your emails will not be ordered anymore by recency but according to what the customer needs and wants to see first.

Email will go even more personalized by leveraging on everything from data,location, behavior and preference to deliver messages in the right context.

According to litmus study, 13% strongly agrees that all emails will be automated in terms of content (Subject Line,images,links .. etc.) and that AI will take control in the future.Not only content that will be automated but segmentation as well in order to make the process easier.Majority of companies either don’t segment or target 4-6 segments according to state of Email Marketing Research.

In the next 5 years, Email will help other channels succeed as well by interacting with them to send more behaviorally, targeted and customized messages.

Email is already a vital part of E-commerce and retailing industry for both small and big businesses. Maybe in the future,subscribers won’t even have to leave their inboxes to complete purchase this will be great evolution to user experience.

Dave Chaffey says that “Platforms might evolve beyond “ drag&drop” to libraries that automate the creation of lifestyle sequences”.

The future of Email marketing in terms of revenue generating is promising as well. 46.5% of Predictors agreed that due to the massive changes in Email it’s ROI will increase by 2020. Combining this with the new features added makes Email an exquisite marketing channel.

Email Vs. Social Media

The existence of social media turned marketers toward utilizing it besides Email. This aroused the question of “ which channel is better social media or email?” and you might even have been asking it or was asked this question. Simply, this concept is wrong because there’s no such a thing called a good channel. As a marketer you shouldn’t be misled by the sayings you hear because the whole idea is about which channel to use when, how and for what.

Social Media and Email are completely different from each other so none of them can replace the other as each has its topping points. Social Media and Email are similar to strategic commodities or ( Rice and Bread ), they don’t substitute each other as diversity in marketing world is extremely needed.

For example, social media out-performers in terms of sharing as it’s a bigger platform and contains a content that is more shareable and engaging.

Email is usually connected with formal communication unlike social media which is more fun and friendly and that’s why it drives entertainment. So if you’re seeking one of the above qualities or your industry needs to show up in a more casual way, social media is your perfect channel.

While email as we said is more professional and suitable for corporates and businesses.for instance, if you want to send your clients a prototype of a project you won’t be sending it through Social media and sometimes while talking to clients on social media you tell them to “ mail” you the details.

One of the perks of Email is that your message is always there unless the customer deletes it unlike social media which is cursed by scrolling down. Email is more personalized, targeted and a great way to grow your small or big business.

Using Social Media with Email is proved to be extremely effective, for example:

  • You can use social media to grow your email list .You don’t own your Facebook audience- Facebook does. This makes capturing email addresses a real asset and you can do it by asking your followers to subscribe in a weekly newsletter to get the latest updates.
  • You can also use Email in order to drive audience into your social media by adding buttons in the end of the email or promoting a piece of content on your Facebook page.
  • And Finally the decision is yours when it comes to the best channel for your business.

Growing email list through social media