A few days ago, I calculated how many legitimate emails I get, vs. cold messages and company newsletters. The ratio is approximately 10 newsletters & commercial emails for every 3 legitimate messages.
With that in mind, I'm wondering: Is a company newsletter still an essential part of a successful inbound marketing strategy in 2023?
I did a bit of research and came up with some unorthodox conclusions.
42 dollars in ROI for every dollar spent?
If you've ever been pitched email marketing services, you've probably heard that "email is the marketing channel with the highest ROI, bringing in 42 dollars in revenue for every dollar spent!"
It sounds great. If only that were true in a way that mattered to your brand!
The 42x number comes from a DMA study conducted in 2018 but published in 2019. And it's the result of combining the average ROI of B2C email efforts with the average for B2B email efforts. Let's take a closer look.
<aside>🥸 Quick disclaimer: The original study was conducted in the UK, so values are in pounds. For full transparency, we’ll stick to pounds.
71% of B2C marketers that participated in the study were able to calculate their email marketing's ROI. Only 48% of B2B marketers could do so. This was mostly due to B2B's longer, multi-player sales processes, which pose unique attribution challenges.
But the differences between B2C and B2B marketers don't end there. I'll quote directly from the study:
"B2B organisations collectively report just under £36 ROI, but a lower proportion are measuring, compared to B2C organisations we surveyed — which score an average return of nearly £48."
So, there's a £12 gap in average ROI per pound between B2B and B2C marketers. So, if you're looking for that 42-1 ROI in B2B, you're wishing for extraordinary results.
Additionally, it's worth mentioning that newsletters are a notably under-performing email format. Let’s see some numbers:
- Welcome and thank you emails have an open rate of 94%, according to GetResponse
- The average abandoned cart email has an average open rate 41.18% (according to Klaviyo)
- Abandoned carts that include a coupon code have an average open rate of 44.37% (Klaviyo)
- Newsletters have an average open rate of 26.7% (GetResponse)
But, why do newsletters get so little engagement? Long story short: Because they don’t feel relevant enough. We’ll dive into it later in this post.
Should Your Company Send a Newsletter? [Newsletter Pros & Cons]
At this point, you may be wondering if your company should invest in a newsletter. Let’s quickly analyze some pros & cons.
Newsletters allow companies to:
- Deliver individualized communications to large audiences
- Connect around time-sensitive content without cluttering their blog with pieces that will lose relevance or require constant revamping over time
- Notifying audiences about upcoming products, updates, or events, in a highly trackable way
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that newsletters (like all email marketing) are a form of consent marketing.
But, what is consent marketing? Here’s a quick definition:
Consent marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on obtaining the consumer’s permision before collecting or using their personal data for promotional purposes. This means that everyone on your newsletter list chose to be there - or that’s the way it should be. Having received consent from your users signals that:
- They’re interested in your brand/offering
- They’ll be happy to receive (targeted and relevant) communications via their channel of choice
This usually results in a better ROI and lower CAC than traditional, non-consensual channels.
Generally, newsletters are:
Additionally, they usually try to share many news or content pieces at once.
While they sound fine on paper, these are the characteristics that make newsletters a low-performing email format. Take welcome emails or abandoned cart emails as an example. Usually, these messages:
- Go straight to the point
- Include “just enough design”
- Respond to the step of the user journey that the recipient is currently at
What mood do you find yourself in when opening your inbox? Why do you open your inbox in the first place? What are you looking for?
Personally, I usually open my inbox:
- During my workday
- Between tasks
- To retrieve specific info or get updates on a conversation
And so do most users.
According to Hubspot, emails get higher engagement rates if they’re sent anywhere from 9AM to 6PM on workdays.
I rarely find myself browsing my inbox recreationally. And even when I do, I’m extremely picky about what I engage with and what I don’t. And it’s safe to assume that’s not a rare attitude. In 2019, Radicati predicted that the average number of work emails that a user receives or sends per day would spike to almost 129. And that estimate didn’t consider an unforeseeable event that impacted how heavily workplaces rely on emails. Of course, I’m referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and the switch to remote work.
Email inboxes are often overflowing with messages that no one has time to open, read and prioritize. If your emails aren't relevant or urgent enough, they risk getting lost in the vast expanse of unread emails.
According to the aforementioned DMA study, only 14% of consumers considered that over half of the brand emails they received were useful.
- Users receive too many emails and they rarely browse their inbox on a generous, discovery-oriented mode
- The most successful email formats rely on precision and relevance
- Newsletters are usually long-winded and generic, requiring a type of engagement that users aren’t prone to
How to Write Newsletters that Your Customers Actually Want to Receive
Maybe you should run a company newsletter. But something’s for sure: You shouldn’t do it the traditional way.
Instead, we recommend you:
- Focus on segmentation
- Center each message around a single topic
- Build a personal brand
- Develop sequences for specific needs and goals
Segment, segment, segment!
Most newsletters are left unopened because the users who receive them aren’t really interested. They’re getting a generic message that doesn’t speak to them. Who is receiving your newsletters? Is it your entire contact base? If that’s the case, you’re wasting an opportunity to:
- Bring personalized value to your engaged users
- Reactivate low-engagement accounts through a custom message
Segment your recipients based on:
- Their role in ABM dynamics
- Time zone
Focus on one thing at a time
Instead of sending catch-all news roundups where users will have to fish for something interesting, center each message around one single product update, event, or piece of content.
Don’t hesitate to combine this tactic with precise, behavior-based segmentation.
Company newsletters may be broken, but as Substack’s rise has proven, personal newsletters aren’t. Personal brands are already a go-to strategy in the B2C and DTC spaces. And they can be just as powerful in B2B.
People like to receive emails from other people, not from companies. So creating a personal newsletter for one of your brand’s leaders, and using it to connect with recipients on a personal level may be the best way to boost your engagement and actually get recipients excited.
Experiment with email courses & specific programs
Email courses can be a great asset for a goals-based onboarding strategy.
Instead of bombarding your recipients with weekly newsletters, create laser-targeted email sequences to help them unlock a new step in their journey. You can use these goals-oriented sequences to:
- Help users unlock the value of new features
- Provide extra support to users with specific use cases
- Encourage users to build a multi-player experience by inviting the rest of their team - and explain how to maximize adoption
A Better Way to Stay in Touch
In this post, we covered why sending a weekly newsletter may not be the best way to connect with your leads, users and clients. However, email marketing is a channel worth investing in, and it can drive trackable and consistent results. Especially if you update your playbook to 2023’s user behaviors and preferences.
There’s an elephant in the room: the core of most email marketing challenges is the way we source subscribers. Would you like to dive deeper? Let’s continue the conversation: Book a free consulting call.