Email Marketing not Spam as an Essential Marketing tool

There is a fine line between what can be considered promotional email marketing and what is considered Spam. Spam is defined as an email sent to a consumer without consent and a direct purpose to fulfil the consumers wants and needs (Reimers, V., et al 2016). Therefore the email is considered useless to the consumer. Retailers have learned to love email marketing, it grew in popularity after the recession as marketers began to understand the benefits and cost effective approach to marketing. Given that I have recommended Waterstones should implement an email marketing campaign to strengthen their customers relationships and online sales this post aims to identify what is email marketing and what is spam.


The digital shift has been growing for years making the Internet the largest channel for effective shopping. For many brick and mortar companies who have long been dependent on physical shoppers this caused huge losses for them. Waterstones saw first hand how online retailing took the industry by storm. Consumers like shopping online because it’s less effort, time, cost effective and have a variety of products and information at their fingertips (Reimers, V., et al 2016). Consumers have really developed a strong relationship with online retailing over the past few years and marketers have realised that email marketing and online shopping has formed a close relationship (Reimers, V., et al 2016). To say that the two are synonymous is an understatement.

However despite the two concepts having a close relationship one must recognise the consumer’s perspective when it comes to their personal domains. Email inbox and text messages are a direct link into the consumer’s life, and in order for email marketing to be effective it cant be annoying. Experts have found that the average consumer receives 177 emails a year from one company and given that a single consumer tends to subscribe to more that one company that’s a lot of emails (Morrison, M. 2012)! That is why the opt-in and opt-out tool was created by the anti spam legislation Reimers, V., et al 2016). The theory behind the opt-in and opt-out tool is that if the consumer signs up to receive emails from the given company then they are more likely to actually buy something, generating online sales and customer retention (Reimers, V., et al 2016).

Finding the balance is key when deciding the volume of emails to send to a consumer. The email must provide and cater information to the consumer wants and needs to not be considered spam. Emails are an effective way of telling consumers about new of existing products and must be done so in a form that is appealing graphical emails are more likely to boost response rates then text based (Storey, P.L. 2009). E-mail marketing is an essential tool for companies like Waterstones to use the following national survey exemplifies why:


  • 52% of respondents said that professional emails give them a more favourable opinion of the store
  • 48% feel “more loyal” toward the retailer as a result of the messages
  • 88% said a retailer’s email prompted them to download/print out a coupon
  • 75% said it led them to buy a product online
  • 67% said email prompted an offline purchase
  • 60% were moved to try a new product
  • -(Storey, P.L. 2009)


The following post by Benchmark outlines opt in email marketing vs. spam and the advantages and disadvantages of using opt-in email marketing.


If you’re looking for examples of e-mail marketing campaigns I recommend the following link.



Reimers, V., Chao, C. & Gorman, S. 2016, “Permission email marketing and its influence on online shopping”, Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 308-322.

Morrison, M. 2012, “Consumers balance on verge of ‘offer anarchy’; Email marketing is a cost-effective tool, but as marketers overdo it they risk long-term brand damage”, Advertising Age, vol. 83, no. 7, pp. 24.

Storey, P.L. 2009, “OPTIMIZING YOUR WEBSITE: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION, PAY PER CLICK, EMAIL MARKETING”, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 312.

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