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  • Writer's pictureDavid England

Email vs SMS & Chatbot Marketing in 2020. Is Email Marketing Dead?

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

We're already through the first month of 2020 and thankfully World War III hasn't moved past being a viral meme on social media. Now that we've snapped back to reality, what's your marketing plan look like for the next 11 months? Does it include a Text or DM (Direct Message) strategy? Should it? What about email marketing? Is it dead yet? I aim to explore those questions and help you understand what will be best for your business in this deep dive of Email Marketing vs Text/DM in the present day.

We'll start with what we already know and has worked for us over the past few decades, Email Marketing. (fun fact: Did you know the first email blast was sent in 1978?) If you're an email marketer, then it's no golden nugget to find out that open rates have declined substantially from the late 90's and early 2000s when people actually enjoyed opening their emails. What used to be an easy feat for your email blast to earn over 50-60% open rate (Sometimes even 80-90%), now is a complicated 17 step email series designed to curate a lucky 20% open rate and 3.5% CTR (Click Through Rate). So knowing this, it would be safe to assume email marketing is slowly dying. Or is it?

The chart below from pulled data from Constant Contact's Average Industry Rates for Email Report and shows Email CTR (Click through rate) growing by a substantial amount from 2016-2018.

Sorry folks, but email marketing isn't dead. In fact, with this data you can argue Email Marketing is becoming more profitable than ever before. And this isn't just for one industry, it's all of them. (You can view the Email Marketing Data for your industry by clicking this link.)

Email Marketing isn't dead, people are just smarter. We can't expect the same strategies used 5-10 years ago will still work. We have to adapt, we have to be smarter marketers. We have to increase our CTR. We have to increase our conversion rate. It's no longer okay to blast a generic email to all 15,000 of our subscribers.

We have to segment.

You know that tab in your Email Service Provider's dashboard that allows you to break up your email list into multiple segments? Are you doing that? If not, would you do it if I told you your CTR would double? What I'm trying to say is that you can send Twice the amount of traffic from your emails, simply by segmenting your current list and then creating relevant & engaging content for each segment. For a digital marketing agency like mine, it's actually pretty simple. I just segment my marketing lists by location, industry, job position, and their level of engagement with my brand. I have other lists segmented for Ads and high probability prospects, but for the most part it's that simple. However, business is never cookie cutter, and my goal is to bring the most value to anyone who reads this, so I'll use a more niche business as an example.

Remember that no business is cookie-cutter and you HAVE TO get creative in segmenting your customers.

Let's say you own a Boutique eCommerce Fashion store in town with 10,000 email subscribers and you hired my agency to run your email marketing campaigns. The first thing I would do is segment the list into current customers, and prospects. Then further segment by all the order data for current customers (top spenders, repeat customers, customers who haven't bought in 2 months, 3 months, etc.) I would also create segments based on location, the types of products sold, and engagement in emails/website/advertising. After segmenting, I would create email automations for every segment that are relevant solely to that one list. (Remember to always, always, always, be refining your segmented lists based on performance.)

For example, the automated email series for Top spenders & Repeat Customers may include more high ticket products or special "Thank you for being a loyal customer" offers along with more in depth "super fan" content that the casual window shopper wouldn't be interested in. On the contrary, an email series for customers who haven't bought in 3 months and prospects would include deeper discount offers and include lighter content more aimed towards curating the prospect into feeling comfortable making another purchase.

The key is to make relevant, engaging content for every segment.

So we know that email marketing isn't dead. We just have to be smarter, more thoughtful, and more creative in our efforts to achieve our goals. But what about SMS & DM marketing? What even is DM marketing? How can we apply that to our businesses? Hopefully you can gain a further understand below.

DM Marketing just stands for Direct Message Marketing and is a way of gaining a combination of both paid and organic traffic through the Direct Messaging on Social Media platforms. You've probably already seen this on Facebook Messenger when you go like a page on Facebook, then get a message instantly in Messenger.

Running a Direct Message Campaign is much similar to email. You have your software, you have your segmented lists, open rates, CTR, etc. You're just directly messaging your customers & prospects on social media rather than email. To see if Direct Message Marketing is a viable solution for business though, we need to look at the data.

  • SMS & Direct Message Open Rates average around 70-80% with a 20% CTR

  • Facebook Messenger Marketing has 10-80x better engagement than organic posts on the Facebook News Feed.

  • Only 1% of businesses automatically engage with their customers via chatbot messaging

  • Send to Messenger Facebook ads have the equivalent of a 100% conversion rate. (Everyone who clicks through to "Send Message" on a Facebook ad automatically becomes a lead on Facebook Messenger which amounts to a 100% conversion rate for a contact list goal completion)

  • Facebook Messenger Ads can reduce cost per lead by 30x-50x

So in Email vs Direct Message, who wins?

The answer is both.

So it sounds like Facebook Messenger and SMS blow email marketing out of the water right? Kind off... Question mark? There's no way of telling what strategy is going to work best for your business but one thing's for sure. Your 2020 marketing strategy should be aimed at refining and segmenting your current email lists to become more targeted and relevant along with exploring new ways of advertising through SMS & Direct Message Marketing.

Quick Tip: Gary Vee talks big about his $1.80 Instagram strategy and it works. Simply deposit your "two cents" on 90 different posts/dms every day.

P.S. A popular messenger marketing platform that I use myself is called ManyChat. I don't get paid for plugging the software, I just genuinely think it's a good tool to get started with at a really fair price, free. You can learn more here.

I'm opening up my inbox to any specific questions you may have about your business' needs so feel free to email me at

Reach your zenith!

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