Email debate: why spend resources on email? you can shoot image-based emails at will

Question:

I was asked today “since image based email is ‘bad’ why does some of the largest retailers, Gap, Target, [name your retailer here], still do it”? And it’s true, I get hundreds of tile layout image based emails.

As we tested for deliverability (less than a half of a percent), the major errors that came back were non-specific for clients like Juno, Aol and other no name clients, no one would ever think to test. (Digico comment: bad general marketer philosophy: if low, let’s crack it even more..)

My basic philosophy on the concept is that a healthy dose of image and text helps fight the war on Spam. However when contrasting content based spam with server side spam irregularities (like Comcast hating everyone for no reason). Most of that “war on spam” seems to now be fought on the servers rather than in HTML. (Digico comment: I think he never heard the concept of client nurturing – digital marketing is all but war).

So are image based emails still something worth fighting over when it comes to brand style guides?

My answer:

Rightful questions, most ecommerce businesses think in a logic of speed. Speed is good, but after some time (let’s say a 6 monthes to 1 year period) using cheap approaches to emailing, leads to high burnout on list. Not to mention damage in brand by sending half-baked campaigns that are barely readable on a smartphone (if not showing like i often see, fully unreadable).

Finally, if a business works in a full burnout logic for clients on email, it’s not a sustainable one. For example, did you see full image email from fab.com? I didn’t. Because they don’t. And while with no particular competitive advantage at first sight, they are now a thousand million business. Do they compete Ikea? No. Do they use image emails? Never.

Email is not about shooting, it’s about your digital strategy. If you want to approach digital marketing using Pareto Law, you can it’s possible. But do you know the cost of each email you send? Did you calculate the attrition rate at each image-based email VS carefully-built email with managers for the task?

Volume is not an option any more.

I’ll also add, that in general thin ecommerce margins, there are only a handful of very profitable customers – that you’d like to care about. Your junior approach to shoot image-based emails won’t do. They probably blocked your emails already.