The advantages and disadvantages of email marketing

Email marketing (aka E-DM, EDM) has a pretty poor reputation. When coaching in digital marketing quite often this tactic is overlooked, and when I bring it up I often got a negative sceptical reaction. But actually, email marketing is often the unsung hero. Done well, it can provide extraordinary results, but it's not without its challenges. 


Low cost - Everyone has at least one email address, this high proliferation leads to an incredibly cheap implementation cost. Everyone can do a small scale email campaign from their gmail account, and services like Mailchimp prove very cost effective. The average ROI is (honestly!) 3700%. 

Powerful tracking - Email marketing has a surprising amount of measurement behind it. Set up correctly you can track who has: 

  • Opened your emails
  • Bounced
  • Clicked through to your website
  • And more...

That has huge benefits, you can see who is engaging with your content, and therefore who may be a warm lead, and you can also measure overall performance and continue to optimise your campaigns. 


Easy personalisation and automation - it's so easy to ensure that your emails are personalised to the recipient - whether to their sector, name, location or more. That can help you drive better results. You can also automate - i.e. if someone opens an email around "cloud tech" then you can automatically send them your cloud report the following week. Then, you can sit back and watch the traffic flow. 

Increased sales - most brands communicate to former customers via email, as such they are able to increase interest in new product. This has been shown to impact sales, in a cost effective manner.


It takes time - if you're starting from scratch you need to start building your email list. Getting people to subscribe can take time (unless you buy a list, which you should never do!). You need to do a lot of promotion, a lot of signposting and a lot of work on the content before people will start subscribing. 

Natural subscriber decay - no matter how great your emails are, some subscribers will always stop engaging. Quite often it could be  due to someone changing role, or moving jobs, but you'll need to find a way to keep your list of subscribers engaged and clean. 

Sophistication needs investment - not all email campaigns need full automation and sophistication, but if you want it you need to be ready to invest a lot of time. 

Legal considerations - there's quite a lot of legislation and it's important you understand their implications. Here's a good guide - but also consider using something like Mailchimp, who ensure your campaign is legal without you having to worry. 

Perception - Lastly, coming right back to the start, email marketing has a bad reputation. It's often synonymous to spam. Having said that, most people do engage with email marketing, whether they consciously know it or not. 72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. Due to this perception it's essential that they have actively subscribed, that the content is spot on, and that you don't fill their inbox to the brim (FYI - Open rate is highest when companies send two emails per month). 

You may also like to check out my previous blog post on the most common email marketing mistakes.

Note: The statistics in this article are from: