Is email marketing a good way for businesses to engage with their users & direct more traffic to their website?

In light of all of the different social media channels which have taken over the in the world of interpersonal communication, many today believe that the relevance of email has been killed off by social media sites. The naysayers of email marketing say that since more and more companies are using different social platforms to reach us, such as: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, who really needs to email anymore?

Email is not dead. Waldow & Falls (2012) argue that emailing cannot be dead, when research has shown that 94% of us send or read emails every day, and most of us manage at least two accounts. Furthermore, for millennials, this number is even higher at 96%. So what does this show? That emailing is still an activity which is heavily engrained in our daily lives and habits; in fact, it is most likely to be our number one online activity.

With that being said, does it mean that email is an appropriate marketing method for companies to reach its target users?  Firstly, it might be necessary to look at the pros and cons of each:


Brand Awareness

Helps customers to recognise your brand. If they do not respond or even open the email, the fact that they have seen it arrive in their inbox will help people to recall your brand when they’re ready to make purchase decision.

Build Relationships

Giving your audience the option to subscribe/ unsubscribe from emails, better informs you about who is genuinely interested in your product/services, which enables you to tailor campaigns around the topics they’re interested in.

Quick to produce and Deploy

Email marketing campaigns can be developed and dispatched within minutes. Therefore, you can quickly get an offer on the table or respond to a competitor.



Getting attention

As many of us e experience inbox overflow, it may be difficult to get customers to open your email if they don’t recognize your brand.

Lacks Personal Touch

As email marketing campaigns are usually sent out in bulk, it will lack personal touch for each customer.

Compelling Action

A vast number of companies go for the entertainment or informative approach when it comes to email marketing, instead email campaigns need to develop a call to action, and clearly outline what customer should do next.

There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to using email campaigns as a marketing tool. Whilst it may not be worthwhile for some companies, it should be said that the percentage of people who use email services is definitely too large to ignore, which means that it certainly a viable option for marketing which can be highly effective when it is done right.  There are many examples of companies who have employed email marketing campaigns which are noteworthy, whilst others have got it completely wrong:



Those who got it right:





Source: (2014): 7 Ecommerce Email Campaigns You Should Steal Today.

Macdonald (2014) shows that Banana republic have incorporated the social norms in their email strategy. Firstly, they present the email as an invitation and second;y by using the word ‘secret’. They understand that everyone likes to feel special and offers their customers something exclusive. They add more value by promoting their free shipping and free returns. A lesson to learn here is that uniquely target customers can keep their loyalty and improve your sales.



dropbox-email-example (1)

Source: (2015): 12 of the Best Email Marketing Examples You’ve Ever Seen (And Why They’re Great). 

This dropbox email example from Kilovich (2015) aims to remind its users of its presence and expertise by using an illustration which will appeal to its audiences emotional side.  The use of the cute and simple will make its user feel appreciated which in turn captures their attention. Then they include some information about why they are helpful to us, which is an excellent example of using email marketing to retain users as well encourage more to return. 



Source: (2015): 12 of the Best Email Marketing Examples You’ve Ever Seen (And Why They’re Great). 

Another example from Kilovich (2015) is from the beauty product subscription company Birchbox, grab the audiences’ attention by suggesting that they had ‘forgotten’ to include a discount code in the customer’s package. In fact they are offering a discount code for another company -Rent the runway- which aligns with the interest profile of its customers.

The Hall of Shame: 


facebook for small business

Source: LocalVox (2013): The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly.

This example from the LocalVox blog (2013) identifies Facebook as a culprit of bad email marketing. The email is too direct and has minimal emotion, which is contradictory to Facebook’s business model. Also, they make a grammatical error since the  the first sentence should have a question mark at the end.



Source: LocalVox (2013): The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly.

Bloomberg make offers its customers a deal for 20 issues of bloomberg  business for $12.00, and encourages the call for action. However, they fail to give customers context to hep them decide if their decision is worthwhile, as for the customer they feel like they are misled. For example, customers may want to know: how much did it cost before? or What are other options?  Also, for people who are’t familiar with the brand, they may not know what it is about.


Source: E-consultancy (2014): Email marketing CTA design: five good vs. six bad examples.

The final example comes from Moth (2014). If you have a good look at this email ad from Macy’s you’ll see that it is quite confused. Firstly, there is a lot going on, there is too much information for the customer to process at once. Secondly, it advertises father’s day but a link the women’s section is first, which makes the email slightly irrelevant.

So now that we’ve looked at what good email marketing and bad marketing email look like, we know that email campaigns can certainly a great way for businesses to engage their customers, but also a good way to alienate them too. If you want to take on email marketing, it is essential that you follow in the footsteps of Banana Republic, Dropbox and Birch, otherwise email marketing may not be for you.

Some Points to take away:

  • Remember to give customer context when you are offering them a deal. Mention previous prices and also show them a few more options
  • Don’t overload the page with too much information, keep it minimal and relevant to the customer
  • Make sure that the language style is consistent with your business model and watch for grammatical errors
  • Make your audience feel special and appreciated






Greensplash. (2015). E-mail marketing: The pros and cons. Available: Last accessed 8th May 2015.

Kolowich, L. (2015). 12 of the Best Email Marketing Examples You’ve Ever Seen (And Why They’re Great). Available: Last accessed 8th May 2015.

Local Vox. (2013). Email Marketing: The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly. Available: Last accessed 8th May 2015.

Macdonald, M. (2014). 7 Ecommerce Email Campaigns You Should Steal Today. Available: Last accessed 8th May 2015.

Moth, D. (2014). Email marketing CTA design: five good vs. six bad examples. Available: Last accessed 8th May 2015.

Waldow, D. Falls, J. (2012). The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win. United States: Que Publishing. p5-25.

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