What Is Email Marketing and How Did It Begin?

what is email marketing

Electronic mail (or “email”) has been around for a long time. In fact, email dates back to the early-1970s. However, it didn’t become popular until the 1990s (it was actually 1993 when the term “email” was coined). Still, 26 years seems like a long time for anything internet-related to still be relevant; yet email keeps rolling on. Today, marketers of all different industries use email marketing as part of their strategy. In this blog, we answer the question, “What is email marketing?” and dive into how it became so popular.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is an internet marketing tactic that businesses use to target a group of individuals. This gives them a way to promote products or services. It can also help them build relationships with potential customers.

Email marketing is a great way to:

  • Inform customers of new products
  • Offer discounts or specials
  • Send updates about recent news
  • Promote time-sensitive deals
  • Reinforce customer loyalty
  • And more!

Businesses can send emails as often as they like. However, there’s a trick to capturing attention: monitoring your campaign. While some businesses receive positive feedback when the send two emails per week, others get the same feedback with two emails per month. How often you send emails depends on a variety of factors including your customer base, content, offer frequency, and more.

In order to get the best feedback, you have to find the best balance. That’s where Prager comes in. We can set up an email marketing campaign for you and monitor it closely. We’ll find out which types of emails (and how often they’re sent) work for you so you can reach the most customers.

How Did Email Marketing Begin?

The Initial Experiment

Once the first email was sent in 1971, it didn’t take long for someone to realize the potential of email for business. That someone was Gary Thuerk (also known as the “Father of Spam”). In 1978, he sent the first mass email when he worked as a marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp. He wrote the email to promote DEC machines and sent it out to 400 people. To his surprise, his experiment actually led to $13 million worth of DEC machine sales!

Despite the success of Thuerk’s “campaign,” however, the email idea didn’t quite stick. For the next 15 years or so, most businesses kept to classic snail mail or telephone calls in order to reach customers. Both of these methods were expensive. But that all changed in the 1990s.

The Birth of Spam

As email became popular, many businesses tried testing out the idea of email marketing. Unfortunately, customers received so many emails, they cluttered their inbox. Customers began thinking of the emails as spam and blocked many of them, which put businesses at a disadvantage.

By the end of the decade, the government stepped in with laws to address the issue. In 1998, the Data Protection Act ensured all email marketing included an opt-out. Five years later, the Can Spam Law set up the first regulations for commercial email. And quickly after that in 2004, Sender Policy Framework began the verification of sender IP addresses to help prevent spam.

After these email marketing laws ironed out the negatives, businesses were able to start up their campaigns again. This time, customers has more control over what reached their inbox and what didn’t.

Analytics Begin

In the early 2000s, major email platforms like AOL, Yahoo, and Hotmail started something big when they introduced recipient feedback programs. Now, marketers could see if their customers kept their emails or marked them as spam. This marked the beginning of email marketing analytics.

Today, modern analytics let you track a variety of details to evaluate your campaign; you can track open rates, conversion rates, bounce rates, and find out what works and what doesn’t.

Since email marketing began, it has become one of the most cost-effective strategies in the marketing world. Not only is email marketing affordable, it lets you reach thousands of individuals at one time. It can also help you promote customer loyalty and brand awareness.

If you’re interested in a professional email marketing campaign for your business, contact Prager today.