Cost of email marketing compared to traditional mail

Cost of Email Marketing
We explained earlier several advantages of email marketing, including the cost. This article provides a cost comparison between email marketing and traditional mail.

In my role as marketing manager for the past 7 years, I have run many email marketing and traditional marketing campaigns. Here is a rough comparison of the average costs involved in each channel for sending a single-page flyer/newsletter to 10,000 recipients:

Cost of direct marketing to 10,000 recipients

Traditional Mail
Email Marketing
(Own mailing list)
Email Marketing
(3rd party mailing list)
Content and Artwork
$ 1,000
$ 100
$ 100
Printing and Addressing
$ 2,500
$ 2,500
$ 2,500
Total cost to reach 10,000 recipients
$ 6,000
$ 100
$ 2,600
Cost per recipient
$ 0.6
$ 0.01
$ 0.26

Cost is not the only factor involved. You should also consider the time it takes process a campaign. Here's a rough comparison of the average time for each channel (again for 10,000 recipients). 

Time required for direct marketing to 10,000 recipients

Traditional Mail
Email Marketing
(Own mailing list)
Email Marketing
(3rd party mailing list)
Content and Artwork
5 days
4 hours
1 day
Printing and Addressing
2 days
2 days
1 day
Total time to reach 10,000 recipients
9 days
4 hours
2 days

You can see the difference is extremely large.Now imagine how much longer it takes if you want to test your campaign on a small portion of your mailing list before sending to all!

Make your email campaigns targeted

Targetted Email Marketing
Email marketing proves to be extremely cost effective when it is in targeted. With the correct targeting, your return on investment on email marketing campaigns, are higher than almost any other channel.

Here are a few tips to make your emails more targeted:
  • Registrations forms: Ask your users to enter important information such as their gender, age and profession when they register on your website. 
  • Extract additional information: Avoid asking too much information in the registration form, as it can scare or bore your users. Instead, you can analyze their information to create additional parameters.  For example you can use their job title to create different categories such as seniority, job function or department, and whether they are a decision maker.
  • Segment your database: Don’t send the same email to your entire database. Adapt each mailshot for specific segments of your database. For example you should avoid offering a female-targeted product to male audience, of if you do, you should give it the right angle (e.g. buy this as a gift for your lady).
  • Don't email too many people in the same company: If you are offering a B2B service or product, target the main decision makers and try not to send emails to too many people in the same company.

What counts as conversion in an email marketing campaign?

What counts as conversion
Before you decide how to optimize your landing page to increase conversion, you need to define what counts as conversion

While we all like to sell, it is not the only measure of conversion. Here are a few other metrics that can count as conversion depending on your campaign:
  • The most obvious measure of conversion is when the user makes a purchase on your website. 
  • If email campaign was sent to a third party database, the most important thing is to get the users to register on your database (e.g. to subscribe to your newsletter). This way you will get to email those people for free the next time you have an offer.
  • In a B2B sales environment, usually sales only takes place after a conversation between the client and the sales team. In these cases, any replies, calls or online chats initiated from the email campaign should count as conversion.
  • The most successful campaigns, are those which become viral i.e. get forwarded around social and professional networks and generate free additional traffic. If that is what you aim for, you should count  likes, shares, and forwards as conversion.
  • Selling is usually easier when the user has had previous encounters with your website and offerings. So every visit to your website and every additional page viewed during that visit, contributes to future sales and can count as conversion for your campaign.
Here is an interesting article about What Counts as Conversion?

How to optimize your landing page

Landing Page Optimization
The last step in an email marketing campaign is to optimize your landing page. You have come a long journey to improve your delivery rate, open rate and click-through rate. At this stage, the user has landed on your website and is engaged with your offer. Here are a few tips on how you can take advantage of this by optimizing your landing page:

Landing Page Content:

  • Have a clear headline that relates to the email campaign. Don’t confuse the user with a landing page which is not relevant to the email.
  • Provide something valuable that the email didn’t provide. Do not repeat what was already mentioned in the email.
  • Provide incentives and reasons why they should follow your call to action.
  • Personalize content to suit different interests. Don’t use the same landing page for all customers.
  • Add social sharing buttons for users to share, like and forward your page to their network.

Landing Page Call-to-Action

  • Your call-to-action should be very simple, clear and visible in the first scroll of the page. 
  • Only offer one action. Don’t distract the user with multiple options.
  • Make it easy for users to action e.g. by making your registration process short and simple.

Look and Feel of the Landing Page

  • The users prefer to see a familiar look. So use your corporate colors and logo. Don’t create a landing page which is completely different to the rest of your website. 
  • Avoid using your standard navigation bars as it can distract the user from your main call to action.
  • Make your page simple and easy to read. Avoid having too much text or too many images. The users should be able to decide whether they are interested in what you offer in a few seconds.
  • Make sure your page loads fast. Users get bored and lose interest if they have to wait more than 5 seconds for the page to load.
  • Impress the user with the design of your page. 

Testing Your Landing Page

  • As always test different versions of your landing page with small portions of your mailing list before sending to everyone.
  • If users landed on your website but didn’t convert, try calling a few recipients and ask them what they thought about the offer. Try to understand what went wrong and learn from it.

Here’s a few interesting articles about how to increase your conversion rate:

Improving Click-Through Rate in Email Campaigns

Earlier we discussed how to increase your delivery rate and open rate for your email marketing campaign. The next question is how to get your users to click on the links in the email to land on your website.

Here are a few tips to increase your click-through rate:

Email Content
  • Keep your text short and to-the-point
  • Provide extra credibility for what you offer e.g. by explaining how many other clients are using the same service and perhaps including some well known brands.
  • Personalize your emails by using the recipient’s name and personal interests
  • Make your emails as targeted as possible. Only offer your user what you think they are interested in. Do not send the same offer to your entire database.
  • Give your user a reason to act on your email urgently (e.g. with an offer expiry date, or limited availability). 
  • Don’t give out everything in the email. Provide a catchy summary and leave the rest for the user to read on your website.
  • Ask your users to forward the email to their relevant colleagues for a B2B campaign, or to their friends and family for a B2C campaign. You can also use a social sharing tool for B2C campaigns.

  • Have prominent and clear call-to-actions. Make sure your links are visible without scrolling, they are bold and catchy, and it is obvious that they are clickable.
  • Don’t put your call-to-action inside an image. Images usually don’t load unless the user requests.
  • Tell people to where to click.
  • Have more than one link with different call-to-actions. Each user might relate to a different text more than others.
  • Have some links at the bottom of the email 

Email Look and Feel
  • Keep your emails simple. Remove unnecessary images, navigation bar and logos. 
  • If you have to have an image, keep in mind that most email clients don’t load them unless the user requests. So make sure the images have an alternate text to appear when the image hasn't loaded.
  • Test your email in all major email clients including all versions of Desktop Email Clients (MS Outlook, Apple Mail and Lotus Notes), Web-based Email Clients (Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail) as well as Mobile Email Clients (iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry). You should make sure your email is rendered the way you want it and all the links are working. 
  • For testing web-based email clients, use all popular versions of major browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer, FireFox). Most browsers get updated regularly. You should keep up-to-date on which versions are more commonly used. One easy way of doing so is to check your Google Analytics reports.

Testing and User Feedback
  • As always test different versions of your email with small portions of your list before sending to everyone.
  • If your email was opened but no one clicked on the links, try calling a few recipients and ask them what they thought about the offer. Try to understand what went wrong and learn from it.

Here’s a few interesting articles about how to increase your click-through-rate: