7 min read

Is Email Dead? Our Survey Says...


You’ve probably heard people shouting this at you before. Friends. Marketing experts. Strangers from across the street.

Nobody uses email anymore. Stop living in the past!

(Are they serious? Are they right? Why didn’t anybody tell you?!)

The same people are probably shouting other things too, like:

It’s all about social media, dammit!

Post consistently! And, and…




You’ve tried these things. They haven’t worked.

But email doesn’t work either...right?

Not so fast.

Like pretty much everything the orange-faced outgoing President of the United States has said in the past four years, you have to check the facts.

Here are the facts:

1.   There are 3.9 billion people who use email every day. (Hubspot)

2.   58% of consumers check their email before doing anything else online. (OptinMonster)

3.   That includes teenagers – 75% of whom consider email a “fact of everyday life.” (OptinMonster)

4.   In fact, more than half of millennials aged 18 to 24 check their email while still in bed in the morning. (Forbes)

5.   For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $42 in ROI. (Oberlo)

6.   Conversion rates for emails are higher than social media. (Smart Insights)

You get the point.

Is email getting more annoying because your inbox is overflowing with more junk?


More stressful because all the emails and messages you receive look and sound the same?


More frustrating because the brands you love aren’t sending content that will make a difference to your life?


Despite all this, email is still very much a thing.

Ask yourself this: when’s the last time you checked your email? Ten minutes ago? An hour ago, at most?

Nothing to be ashamed of. I write with my inbox open in the background to relax me. And when that notification pops…

PING! Aaaaaaah.


And so are you.

So is everybody.

That’s why email isn’t just alive. Email is YOUR most powerful tool to build connections and make sales in 2021 and beyond.

It doesn’t matter if:

  • You have a teeny tiny list.
  • You don't know what to say.
  • You think people aren't interested in hearing from you (they are).
  • You don't think email is as important as other channels (it is).

Because email still matters.

A lot.

So how can you use email to bring the WOW factor to your copy and make people literally fall in love with your brand?

1. Use their name more.

Let's start simple.

Ever noticed that little perk you get when people refer to you by your name in real life?

Feels good, right?

And the thing is, Kieran…


The science behind it? Well, I'm not a neuroscientist. But you can't deny it. When somebody uses your name, it gives you that inexplicable fuzzy feeling inside. It makes you feel more connected with that person.

As Dale Carnegie writes in How To Win Friends and Influence People,

Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Same goes for email.

When you address your subscribers or customers by their actual name, they’ll listen.

In fact:

  • Emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.
  • Personalised emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates.

Of course, technology has come a long way. Using somebody’s name in your subject lines or emails is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing personalisation.

But when the vast majority of email newsletters out there still don't use them?! 👇

And when the whole trend of personalisation is driven by the fact that customers want to be seen and treated like individuals?

My advice is simple: use their name.

2. Bring more of you to the table.

Here’s the thing.

People don’t care about your product or the price you’re selling it at.

They care about YOU.

A study by Deloitte found that over half of all people desired a more "human" experience from their virtual environments.

And in the wake of COVID-19, even more so.

Deloitte's Marketing Trends report found that consumers are moving towards companies that prioritise human-centric experiences, suggesting that for businesses to survive in this post-pandemic economy, they have to start being more human.

People aren’t looking for the buttoned-up business type hiding behind their brand and talking in stiff, professional jargon that nobody gives AF about.

People want to connect with brands the same way they connect with people.

In a personal, authentic and human way.

And guess what?

That's the great thing about email!

You can be as human as you can possibly be. Bring a big dose of your personality to the table, pull back the brand curtain and show them who you really are, and in doing so give consumers the connections they crave.

Be fun. Be weird. Be personable. Be relevant. Do something new, something different. Tell stories. Educate them. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Okay, don't make them cry. Unless it's tears of joy. Even then, think about reigning it in. Just a little.

Point is, you need to forget about selling your product.

Sell you instead.

3. Telling your story isn't enough

I love reading about the success stories of start-ups.

Like how one woman's obsession with peanut butter developed into the fastest growing nut butter brand in the country (the outrageously delicious Pip & Nut).

Or how a 19-year old delivery boy for Pizza Hut went from hand-sewing gym wear in his garage to making $250 million in annual sales and a $1.3 billion brand valuation (anybody heard of Gymshark?)

"Good stories give big voices to small ventures," as Lars Lofgren (CEO of Quick Sprout) says.

But the story doesn't stop once you reach the end of your About page.

Our brains are hardwired for stories. They help us to connect. They humanise your brand.

Remember, consumers are craving human-to-human brand experiences (see point #2).

One of the most effective techniques for doing this?

Yep, storytelling.

I'm not talking about writing the next Moby Dick.

I'm talking about capturing your audience's attention by creating content they can relate to. It doesn't matter if they're looking at a Facebook ad, a blog post or an email.

Things like:

  • Showing customers what goes on behind the scenes of your brand.
  • Sharing stories about real people.
  • Sharing stories about you.
  • Educating people about your product and create a touching story that features your product's USP.

Like it or not, brand storytelling is the future of marketing.

So the next time you're sending an email to your audience, forget about the 10% coupon.

Try telling a story instead.

Speaking of coupons...

4. Lose the coupons.

There. I said it. You probably disagree.

Don’t 59% of consumers say that coupons are still the biggest influencer when it comes to them making a purchasing decision?

They do.

And don’t emails with coupons inside have increased open rates, increased clicks, increased transaction completion rates and increased revenue per email?

You’re right.

And isn’t –

Okay! I get it. Coupons aren’t all bad.

Look. I’m sure every £300-an-hour consultant you speak to tells you the same thing.


Well…I’m saying don’t listen to them.

Wunderman showed all the way back in 2017 that 88% of consumers want to engage with brands that are pushing boundaries and setting new standards.

Does a 10% coupon sound like the new standard to you?

Didn’t think so.

As Jamie Gutfreund (Global CMO at Wunderman) says,

What does loyalty mean today? Our data told us that it’s not about wringing loyalty from consumers through promises or promotions. We need to commit to being in service to consumers with everything we do – every day and at every point in the relationship.

In short, average experiences won’t cut it anymore.

(Did they ever?)

And coupons, by definition, are average.

Consumers don't want typical. They don't want usual. They want to connect with brands who are going above and beyond. So take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask…is that the sort of brand you want to be? Another one of those brands offering coupons?

Besides, you don’t even need to send coupons.

There's a far more effective way of generating revenue from your emails...

5. Try a welcome series.

Did you know that welcome emails generate 6 times more revenue than a promotional email? (Experian)

Neither did I! Until just a minute ago when I looked it up.

But there it is. In cold, plain, irrefutable English.

You don’t even need those damn coupons!

And the good news is you’ll also see:

  • Higher open rates
  • Higher click-through rates
  • More revenue per email
  • More engagement than with newsletters
  • Higher customer lifetime value

Do I need to go on?

A welcome series builds the likeability factor with your brand.


Likeability builds trust.

Trust builds engagement.

Engagement builds customer-brand relationships.

Relationships build loyalty.

Btw, notice I said welcome series, not email?

I’ve noticed that most brands (but still not all!) send welcome emails these days.

After that first email?

Nada. Niente.

Or when that second email does come, it’s six weeks later, out of nowhere, like a bird taking a crap on your shoulder, or a creepy guy messaging you four months later to get a second date.

Trust and loyalty, like any good thing in life, takes time to develop.

So get in early and commit to giving more by writing not one email, not two, not even three, but ONE THOUSAND EMAILS-

Just kidding. Four to six emails should do the trick. 👌

6. And finally...be a purple cow.

That’s not a typo. Or a weird joke. Or an idea for a Halloween costume.

Yes, a purple cow.

The concept comes from Seth Godin, marketing guru and author of 19 best-selling books on marketing.

The idea?

That a new P has emerged from the traditional marketing Ps of Product, Pricing, Place and Promotion. Because these once sacred Ps are now no longer enough.

We’ve reached a point where consumers have everything they want or need. We’re too busy, and are bombarded with too much. In the post-consumer society, products are invisible.

Traditional marketing approaches are obsolete.

Enter…the purple cow.

The essence of this new approach to marketing is simple:

Be remarkable.

As Seth says,

Something remarkable is worth talking about. Worth noticing. Exceptional. New. Interesting. It’s a purple cow. Boring stuff is invisible. It’s a brown cow.

In this invisible new world, anything less than exceptional won’t cut it. That means not doing what everyone else is doing.

Take some recent pandemic-related examples.

Earlier this year, as infection rates dropped in Germany and Burger King welcomed back customers to their stores, they did so under one condition.

They had to wear a ‘social distancing crown’.

This initiative from the fast food giant put a playful spin on the need to keep two metres apart, and also provided some much-needed light relief from the severity of the crisis while ensuring people were being responsible.



IKEA Russia also had their moment.

To help brighten people’s moods in lockdown, especially those with young children, IKEA published instructions for a variety of furniture forts that could be made using everyday household items.

The instructions gave parents DIY inspiration and entertainment and was a great success.


Because it was something new. And interesting. And worth talking about.

AKA…a purple cow.

So next time you sit down to plan your next email campaign?

See what your competitors are doing for their emails...then DON'T do that.

Do something better.

So get creative. Throw some ideas at the wall. Think outside the box.

And if you come across an idea that makes you feel excited, or nervous, or scared?

Then believe me, you're moving in the right direction.

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