Email Marketing in 2020 - Is it Dead? - Handshake Digital -An E-Commerce Marketing & Advertising Agency

Email Marketing in 2020 — Is it Dead?

Email Marketing in 2020

Even though email was invented in the 1970s, it didn’t really take off from a personal-use perspective until the early 1990s. According to an article on, email was referred to as “electronic mail” until 1993. That’s also when programs like Outlook and Hotmail sprouted wings and took flight.


If you were one of the few marketers in the 90s properly utilizing email marketing, your open rates were as high as 87%. Geez, just imagine that in 2020. List averages are lucky to be 10-20% In fact, Mailchimp released their Email Marketing Benchmarks article in October 2019, and according to their research — the average open rate for all industries they analyzed was 21.33%.


Marketing Experts Agree – Email is Here to Stay.

Podcast guest, friend of agency and all around kick-ass marketer, Cody May, had this to say about the state of email marketing in 2020:

Email marketing is not dead. We tell every client that we work with, you need to have a CRM in your business. You know, I love Russell Brunson. I’m huge Russell Brunson fan and he often talks about the fact that there’s three types of traffic sources. There’s traffic you own, traffic you can control and traffic you can’t control.

Without a CRM, and without an email list, you don’t own traffic.

So that’s why we always tell clients to build their email list.

We’re seeing some crazy results as far as open rates and replies in with email marketing and also text marketing is another thing that we’re really focused on over the last little while.

But to answer your question, it’s absolutely not dead.


Is Email Marketing Better for 1 Industry vs. Another?

What if we told you that the industry you are in, yes I’m talking about your industry, isn’t special? We get it, you provide the world’s best service in the most unique industry on Earth. But your problems are the same if you sell barber shop supplies vs. if you’re selling coffee vs. if you’re a REALTOR® selling homes. 

You need to sell your products. You need to sell your services.

Now sometimes leading your customers to the water to take a drink may look different. For instance, e-commerce stores need to introduce people to their products and then retarget them so they don’t look around at other pricing. Maybe hit their pain points, roll them into an email campaign and sell, sell, sell!

If you need to sell homes, or you are a lawyer and just want more leads — that’s a little different. You need to nurture people (you better be doing this via email) for a lil’ while, say a month or so, and then get them to get on the phone with you or get them into your sales funnel. 

You are still selling the idea of your business to your customers, just slightly different depending on industry.

If you’re on the “service provider” side of things (i.e. REALTOR®, dentist, lawyer, etc) you definitely want to see what Cody says about your industry specifically because he’s a lead-gen expert:

We work with a lot of lead gen based businesses. Email is definitely the best way to go. Especially with Facebook ads.

A lot of what we do with our clients is we try to siphon the data for Facebook. Facebook is just an auction. Basically, how can I get the person’s information, their name, their email address, and their phone number off the platform so that I can sell to them at a cheaper rate?

Email is a lot cheaper than running Facebook ads. But if I can get a Facebook lead for anywhere between $2 to $5 and then I can remarket to them via email and via SMS, it’s a lot cheaper for me to take that lead off the platform and to do all my selling via email or I pick up the phone and call them.

So any lead gen sector, we’ve worked with physiotherapists, dentists, real estate teams, accountants, they’re all lead gen based businesses. So if you’re a lead gen based business, I would say you absolutely have to have email marketing in your business.


Let’s Talk Specifically About E-Commerce Email Marketing for a Hot Minute:

You want to build your list just like Cody described on the lead-gen side. If your average order value online is $200 (for the sake of this argument), you want to try to capture a sale, or at least an email address from an abandoned cart, for $20-$75. Then if you didn’t get the sale before, you start to trickle out an abandoned cart sequence to them. 

You ever see those real creepy Amazon emails that immediately tell you “Hey, you forgot something in your cart!” ? Those bad boys can recover as much as 60% of those abandoned carts. Think about that. Let’s say you have 100 abandoned carts this month. Imagine if you turned that into 60 sales and then only 40 leftover non-sales.





Some Good Ways to Start Your Email Marketing Efforts

So, you get it, it’s important to your business to have an email marketing presence. But how the heck do you get started? 

First things first, you need some sort of “sequence” setup. Thing of a sequence as just some automated things that happen when somebody signs up for your email marketing.

The Welcome Sequence

This is basically a ‘thank you’ email that is sent out to the subscriber. Thank them for signing up and then introduce them to your company. You can make this a multi-part sequence where you introduce team members, services you offer, case studies, etc. Or just say “Thanks!”

We often suggest that you ask them to update their preferences in this period. That way if you want to get ‘fancy’ down the road with some segmented emails, you can do that too. 


Post-Purchase Sequence

Are you running an online store? You definitely want to make sure you thank them for their purchase. A few good things you can include in this email sequence would be asking them to like/share on social media, leave you reviews, or refer a friend for a discount (if you have that ability).

Also understand what your consumer habits are. If you have a product that you know lasts a month or two, i.e. makeup / face cleanser, etc, have a sequence setup that emails these purchasers in that window to give them a reminder to order again!

Even just adding in those two sequences can help a lot.

Stay tuned later this month for an advanced breakdown of email marketing sequences that help grow revenue.


Are Email Subscribers Always Ready to Buy?

Here are a few interesting stats for you:

  • 15% of people are ready to buy right now
  • 35% of the market needs to be nurtured over a 90 day window
  • 50% of the market is never going to buy from you

So what does this mean for your email marketing efforts?

  1. Pitch them an offer in your first email to them. Don’t make it super sales-based, but have an offer in there. Don’t shy away from it.
  2. Set up some sort of automation over a 90 day period to allow you to showcase your product / services. Showing them customer reviews, case studies, etc is always helpful. These emails should be short & sweet but include a link to ‘buy now’.
  3. Don’t be discouraged by the third stat. It’s just consumer behavior. Build your list to be as large as possible so that 50% of people that will buy from you is a better number for your revenue!


What Are Some Email Platforms I Can Use Today?

  • Mailchimp – You can build lists, it integrates well with CMS platforms like WordPress and they have free plans. They also have some premium features for pretty cheap. So just because it’s not typically thought of as a larger “marketing automation” platform, don’t sleep on them.
  • Hubspot – Freemium at it’s finest! Hubspot includes an incredible amount of features on it’s free platform. It takes a little work to get used to if you aren’t super tech savvy, but there’s a reason why they are one of the leaders in this space!
  • Klaviyo – If you’re looking for amazing email marketing automation, this is our preferred tool. Klaviyo allows you to build amazing sequences with loads of various triggers. They aren’t the cheapest platform in the market, but given the fact that e-commerce stores should bring in 30-50% of their revenue through email marketing — we wouldn’t shy away from the investment. 


In Conclusion

What if Facebook just goes away? What if it turns into Myspace or Google Wave? Email was created in the 1960s, it’s a legacy product that still turns a ton of ROI for businesses that leverage it properly.

Build your email subscriber list as large as possible, then when you are ready to scale your business to that “next” level, it’s sitting right there in your list. Owning the traffic is always cheaper than running ads to acquire more traffic.

No matter how small your business is, you should be collecting email addresses. You never know when you are going to decide to turn up your email automation efforts and scale your business. Do yourself a favor and just build it from the start.


And without further ado, click here to subscribe to our email newsletters.

Did you think we’d let you read through our entire email marketing blog post without that pitch?




Want to listen to the full podcast with Cody May of StudioPTBO? Check it out below in video form or audio-only: