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Mobile MarketingJanuary 2, 2017Written by Alex Debecker

The Single Best Alternative to Email Marketing

Analysing the death of email and the birth of mobile messaging

Email marketing is dying.

You know it. I know it. Email providers know it.

The facts are here, and they're ugly.

Table of contents

An autopsy of email marketing

That was quite the dramatic introduction, but I feel it was justified. To me, email marketing is dead, and it is about time we move past the stage of denial, skip anger, bargaining, and depression, and accept this simple fact.

To help us find the best alternative to email marketing, I propose a short autopsy. What went wrong?

1. The story

Email marketing was born in 1978 when a company called Digital Equipment Corp sent the very first mass email to about 400 clients. That single email generated $13 million in sales. Not a bad ROI.

Over almost 40 years, we have gone from the very first email marketing campaign to 400 people to roughly 116 billion marketing emails sent every day.

2. The numbers

In case you did not know, marketing emails tend to be ignored. No one exactly knows when the trend started, but the facts are there and we have data to prove it.

getting an email vs getting a letter

The average email open rate is 22%. Sad.

The average email click-through rate is 3.2%. Sadder.

Not only do consumers not open the emails they get (which, by the way, averages at 121 per day), they also very rarely click on any of the links presented to them.

3. What happened?

I think many factors came into play and drove marketing emails to a certain death.

We received too many of them (remember, 121 emails per day on average).

We were spammed by random emails we never wanted.

We got tricked into clicking fishy links and forwarding ridiculous email chains (yes, some people still do this. Tell your nan to stop.)

We all moved to social networks and found them to be a more convenient way of interacting with our friends and family.

We all moved to mobile messaging apps and found them to be even better.

Whatever it was, it happened, and no one can deny it.

Email marketing is dead.

Marketing still has to happen

That is all well and good, but marketing still has to happen. So what do we do? Do we just keep on pushing our emails down our customers' throat hoping a fifth of them will open, and a handful will click?

No, of course not. We need an alternative.

Mobile messaging, the best alternative to email marketing

You didn't see that one coming, did you?

We write a lot about mobile messaging in this blog, for obvious reasons. It is important to mention, though, that our position on mobile message marketing > email marketing is backed by numbers on both sides of the equation.

We've looked at the depressing email marketing side during the autopsy, so let's compare these to mobile messaging and see what comes out, shall we?

1. The story

The first messaging apps can be retraced back to the early 1990s when people started hanging around online chatrooms.

From the crazily hectic chatrooms with hundreds of people shouting at each other (it was not fun, trust me, I was there), we have slowly evolved to messaging apps.

At the same time, mobile phones became more and more powerful, and access to the internet cheaper and faster. It has created a perfect storm for the rapid growth of the messaging apps we now all use: Messenger, WhatsApp, (more recently) Telegram, and many more.

Today, some of the top messaging apps have over one billion active users every day.

The story continues with the emergence and early adoption of chatbots, these automated assistants that live within messaging apps to help us (learn more about the history of chatbots).

2. The numbers

For marketing, the main numbers that speak to us are the open rate, click rate, and engagement.

Mobile messages boast an astounding 98% open rate within 3 minutes of receiving the message. We have shared this statistic before, yet every time it still amazes me.

What's more important, though, is the engagement.

With the rise of "click-bait" blog post titles and other "BuzzFeed", it has become increasingly evident that getting people to open a message (or click a link on Facebook, for instance) is not the end goal. Engagement, however, is a real success metric.

I have taken a randomised sample of a segment of our ubisend chatbot customers. The segment represents companies who have sent over ten plain-text messages over the course of 15 days to over 200 subscribers.

Plain text facebook messenger message

An example of a plain-text Facebook Messenger message.

I have stripped down all the messages that don't have a link to click on, and this is what came up.

Mobile messaging click through rate

Click-through rate sample of mobile messaging.

As you can see, the click-through rates are high. Not insanely high (more on that below), but certainly enough to destroy any email marketing campaign.

To make things clearer, the chart shows:

- Highest single message click rate is 53.36% (1,668% better than average email click rate).

- Lowest single message click rate: 10.16% (318% better than average email click rate).

- Average click rate across all messages: 27.26% (852% better than average email click rate).

Not too shabby.

Plain-text vs. rich media

As I mentioned earlier, the stats above are taken from plain-text messages. These are just a couple lines of text and a simple blue link at the end. Nothing too exciting (though we know they already work extremely well).

We're working on gathering the stats from a similar customer segment using only rich media links. That means fancy buttons, pretty images, and all that jazz. Here's an example:

rich text facebook messenger message

Example of rich-media message in Facebook Messenger.

As you can see, it is a lot more appealing to the eye. We are expecting these messages to have even better stats than what we reported above. Stay tuned for when we release them.

Update 27 Feb 2017: Finally, enough data to share the results! As part of our 9 rules to maximise chatbot retention, I shared what we found when using rich media vs. plain text. Don't miss it!

3. What happened?

There are a few factors responsible for the incredible results we see with mobile messaging.

The main one, I believe, is simple: it is where consumers are.

A recent study by SimilarWeb showed the average U.S. smartphone user spends 23 minutes and 23 seconds on messaging apps.

Mobile messaging app use US

Source: SimilarWeb

Messaging apps are the way your customers consume the internet, stay up to date with events and friends, chat with their family and even exchange content.

A chart from Statista shows that 75% of the online referral traffic comes from the dark social - untrackable links exchanged in private between individuals.

statista dark social referral

Source: Statista

There is immense power to be found in messaging apps. Your business being present on them is proving to be extremely valuable, especially considering consumers want your business to be there as attested by the report we recently published.

The number don't lie. Long live mobile messaging

Let's wrap this article up with a nice looking chart that summarises it all.

email marketing vs mobile messaging open rate click rate

Email marketing vs mobile message marketing.

This is all you need to know on the dominance of mobile marketing over email marketing.

Excited to get started? We are excited to help you. Since you are new to the trade, here are some resources that will help you.

The 2016 mobile messaging report. Everything you need to know about your customers and their views on mobile messaging (hint: they love it).

Our case studies section. Find a story that best relates to yours and see how we can help.

Request a free chatbot consultation for your business. Always happy to discuss your particular and unique needs!