Is Email Marketing Dead? Here’s What the Statistics Show [Updated for 2018]

With so many other ways to reach customers, many marketers and business owners wonder, is it still worth sending email?

The short answer: Email marketing is here to stay.

This article will share email marketing statistics that show that, far from being dead, email marketing is an essential tool for attracting and retaining customers. Along the way, you’ll pick up some info that’ll help you refine your own email marketing strategy.

Email Marketing Facts

Let’s be clear: The stats show that email isn’t going anywhere.

Did you know that we send more than 74 trillion emails every year? And the numbers keep going up, with 1.8 million more emails sent in 2017 than in 2016, according to the Communicator Email Benchmark Report 2017.

In 2018, the numbers will be even higher, as the latest Radicati Group Email Statistics Report shows. People will send and receive 281 billion emails per day in 2018, with an expected 3.8 billion email users worldwide by the end of the year. In five years’ time, there’ll be even more email, with an expected 333 billion emails sent.

email marketing facts

Who’s using email? In the US alone, more than 85% of adults send or read email, it turns out.

email is one of the main daily activities in the US

And it’s not just older people using email. Despite the rise of social messaging apps, 78% of teenagers use email, say Adestra. In fact, they consider email a “fact of everyday life”.

adestra's email marketing stats say email is a fact of life

DMA Insight shows that 99% of us check email everyday. For some, that’s as many as 20 times a day.

dma insight email usage

Key takeaway: No matter what age group you are targeting or where they are located, email remains a great way to reach your audience.

How do people usually check their email – on desktop or mobile? By far the largest number are using the iOS mail client, whether that’s on the iPhone or iPad, says Litmus. The next largest group use Gmail, who reported more than one billion users.

litmus email marketing market share

So how many of those emails actually get delivered? According to DMA Insight’s 2017 email benchmarks, the average deliverability rate for email was 98.3%.

(Compare that to social media, where you have to time your message just right, and still only reach a small portion of your followers.)

Key takeaway: Emails reach most of the people they’re intended for, so email marketing remains an essential part of your marketing strategy. Give your emails a better chance of reaching your customers by reading our guide: 11 Reasons Why Your Emails Go in the Spam Box and How to Make Sure They Don’t.

Consumers and Email Marketing

If you’re wondering how email marketing looks from the consumer point of view, this next batch of email marketing statistics gives some insight. According to Adestra, consumers prefer email for communicating with the brands they’re connected with.

Email is also the dominant communication tool for professionals. Some 95% of professionals use email, making it ideal for business to business communication.

email marketing statistics

It’s not all good news, though. DMA Insight says 53% of consumers say they get too many irrelevant emails from brands.

DMA Insight irrelevant emails

And with 17.3% of emails sent classified as spam according to Radicati Group research, it’s easy to see how consumers could easily be put off by getting the wrong emails.

It’s also easier than ever for consumers to fight back. Many will with report emails as spam if marketers don’t get the content and frequency right.

Key takeaway: Consumers now have more power to get rid of the irrelevant emails that they hate. One way to fix this is with smart personalization that goes beyond just using subscribers’ first names. Read our guide to learn how to make your campaigns more personal and relevant with dynamic text replacement.

dynamic text replacement optinmonster

What Email Marketers Say

When it comes to email marketing software, marketers are spoilt for choice. But how do they feel about the emails they send?

It turns out that relevance is a huge concern for them, too. DMA reports that 38% of marketers say only some of the emails they send are relevant. And only 9% of marketers were confident that all the emails they send are relevant. That’s an issue, with consumers trashing irrelevant email.

Content is a big issue for email marketers. According to DMA, 25% of marketers have trouble getting content for their email marketing campaigns. Since we know that content is one of the main ways to attract and retain your audience, finding ways to create good content has to be a priority for any marketer. Check out our content marketing guide for help with using content to grow your list.

content marketing

As we’re always saying on OptinMonster, one way to figure out if your emails are working is to test them. It turns out that marketers agree, as most test their emails. However, 1 in 6 DON’T test, and 1 in 5 don’t feel confident about testing, says DMA Insight.

marketers don't test dma insight

Don’t worry; we’ve got your back with the Ultimate Guide to Split Testing Your Email Newsletters.

Key takeaway: Email marketers agree with consumers about the issue of relevance in email marketing. This will become more important, so there’s work to do here.

Email Marketing ROI

Another issue people wonder about is the ROI of email marketing. In other words, is it really worth it? Uh, yeah! Our own comparison of email marketing vs social media shows that email outperforms social by miles. And Chief Marketer says the ROI of email marketing is 28.5% better than for direct mail.

Still not convinced? Chief Marketer also says email marketing outperforms other tactics for lead generation, while Hubspot is clear that it improves sales. Email Monday even puts a number on it: every dollar you spend on email marketing brings you $38 in return.

Key takeaway: although the numbers vary, all the statistics agree that email marketing delivers excellent ROI. Find out the ROI of your own campaign by reading our guide on How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Email Campaigns.

Email Marketing Benefits

So, what are some of the benefits of email marketing that make it a must for marketers?

Remember how we said that consumers still like email? Turns out that they use emails for shopping and finding deals. That’s the skinny from Clench Media). Some 45% of people redeem coupons via their mobile devices.

Clench are also fans of the reach and adaptability of email. There are multiple other communication methods out there, but email has managed to adapt and stay relevant.

For us, one of the big reasons to use email is that social media platforms come and go. The time when MySpace was relevant is far in the past, but some people are still reeling from the shutdown of Vine.

Social media sites can also take away your profile at any time. It happened to world-famous skydiver Felix Baumgartner, who had over a million fans at the time. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Here’s why it makes sense to focus on your own email marketing list. When you build a list, you own that list but you don’t own social. That’s why email is a better long-term proposition for connecting with your customers.

Key takeaway: Email marketing has shown it has the capacity to evolve so it’s a must for marketers wanting to stay relevant to their customers. Learn how to start your own email marketing strategy right in our Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Beginners.

Mobile Email Marketing

mobile email marketing

These days, nobody can afford to ignore mobile email marketing. Remember those 1 billion Gmail users we mentioned earlier? Well, 75% of Gmail users use mobile devices. And let’s not forget about all those iOS users.

When it comes to email, smartphones rock! According to Adestra, 83.8% of people use their phones to check personal email and 34% use them for business email. In fact, email is the second most important activity carried out on smartphones, with more than half of all email read on mobile devices.

If you’re targeting a younger demographic, then pay attention to this: almost all young people use smartphones. And 73% of teens and 81% of millennials use “inbox triaging” to decide how to handle their emails. That means if they think your email looks irrelevant, they’ll ignore it.

In fact, Adestra says 57% of younger consumers have an email address just for emails they may not even open!

adestra multiple email addresses

Key takeaway: It’s no longer optional to have campaigns that work well on mobile devices. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a lot of potential connections, customers, leads and sales. To solve this issue, read our guide on How to Create a Mobile Optin.

Email Privacy

With GDPR a reality for EU-based customers, privacy issues are more important than ever in 2018. Many consumers are happy to share personal information, but 88% of them want transparency about how that information’s used.

Luckily, the DMA says 72% of marketers feel somewhat prepared for the new rules. And 36% expect a positive impact on their email marketing strategy. Preference centers will be an important part of this process, and 9% of B2B marketers send consumers there when they unsubscribe.

Key takeaway: It’s time to get serious about email privacy. Check out our GDPR guide for more on this issue.

Email Marketing Predictions for 2018 and Beyond

So, what’s coming up in email marketing over the next year or so? Litmus has some email marketing predictions we should pay attention to:

  • Interactivity, where email recipients can interact with your content without leaving the email. This includes creating richer experiences for subscribers
  • Personalization and creating lifetime value for subscribers and customers
  • Creating email content that’s shorter and more “snackable”
  • Improving email accessibility for subscribers with disabilities
  • Sending more emails that are text only

Litmus also recommends more storytelling in emails, and generally being human.

top email marketing statistics for design trends

Key takeaway: Customers will expect an even more interactive email experience, and marketers will have to use more tools and technologies to deliver that.

Striata also has some trends it suggests email marketers focus on. These include:

  • Sending hyper-personalized emails
  • Integrating machine learning into email marketing automation
  • Being relevant to consumers across all channels

email design trends 2018

Key takeaway: the future looks bright for email marketing but marketers must keep on their toes to get ahead of these coming trends.

So, is email marketing dead? It’s pretty clear to us that (with apologies to Mark Twain) the reports of email marketing’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Far from being dead, email marketing is alive, well and increasingly relevant for you to reach audiences across generations. Give yourself a head start by checking out these subject lines that boost your email open rates.

For more free guides to email marketing, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sharon Hurley Hall has been a professional writer for more than 25 years, and is certified in content marketing and email marketing. Her career has included stints as a journalist, blogger, university lecturer, and ghost writer.

Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more Sharon! I think email marketing is far from being dead. It is still the best way to reach customers and followers. I was wondering, how many times do you suggest we send newsletters to our subscribers?

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall April 6, 2017 at 6:12 am

      That’ll depend on your subscribers’ preferences, Emmerey, but check out our article on the best times to send email for some tips. 🙂

      1. Hi Sharon! Thank you for the response! Will check the article 🙂

        1. Sharon Hurley Hall April 6, 2017 at 11:17 am

          Great, Emmerey. Let me know if I can help with anything else. 🙂

  2. Hey, thanks for the article. I run an e-commerce store and i have tried email marketing. My emails always end up in the promotion folder so its not very effective for me. I use mailchimp. Do you have any suggestions for me ?

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall July 19, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Hi Hardik, you could try asking subscribers to whitelist your email or to physically drag your emails from the promotions tab into the main inbox. But don’t worry; according to Mailchimp, thoe tabs actually decrease spam complaints and improve open rates. It just might take a little longer. Hope that helps. 🙂

  3. Hello Sharon,

    What is the right time to send email to the users?

    Thanks

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall August 30, 2017 at 5:50 am

      Hi Sriram, great question. We’ve published an article about this topic: The Best Time to Send Emails (Here’s What Studies Show). Hope that helps. 🙂

  4. For being 40 years old (approx) is the maybe the oldest marketing and communication channel of the digital era. Adoption of new technologies like A.I. is enabling email marketing to new ways of targeting two-way communication with the audience and bringing our brand into the new spotlight. great article which brings a lot of knowledge to surface, thank you