In 2010 Mark Zuckerburg declared that email was dying off as he launched Facebook's new messaging system. "We don't think that a modern messaging system is going to be email,' Zuckerberg said. Even Sheryl Sandberg stated, "If you want to know what people like us will do tomorrow, you look at what teenagers are doing today. Email--I can't imagine life without it--is probably going away."

Now, Zuckerburg was 100% right about the rapid growth of messengers, yet in 2017 email is not only surviving, it is thriving. Seventy-two percent of consumers prefer that companies communicate with them via email according to Marketing Sherpa.

And those peskie teens (now aka full functioning adult Millennials) that both Zuckerburg and Sandburg referenced, actually prefer email for brand communication. The amount of time spent reading each email has also grown 7% over the past 6 years, according to Litmus.

Here is the breakdown of overall growth of the channel in the last year thanks to SendGrid's Benchmark report.

Email is also an incredibly cost efficient channel for both B2B and B2C delivering an incredible 4,300% ROI according to the DMA's fact book. When done correctly it can easily become your most profitable channel.

So, now understanding the sustainability and potential of email, how do you use this channel to better engage with your audience?

Here are three of the most important elements of email communication for brands:

Think Mobile First: Marketers often code their emails with a responsive design that renders properly when opened on any device. Yet, thinking "mobile-first" extends beyond just the email looking good on your phone.

Succinct copy with ample space and a font that is readable on a 6 inch device without a magnifying glass. Whether you are doing outreach to a prospect or sending a sale notification to a customer, large blocks of copy on mobile are a challenge to read.

In addition to the proper font size, also enlarge the buttons (when applicable) so any user can take action without enlarging their screen. The slightest frustration can lead to abandonment.

The Give: All marketers need to remember to give as well as take in every form of communication with a customer or prospect. Inboxes are overflowing with branded messages. The brands that realize it is a privilege, not a right, to have access to a user's inbox, make sure that every communication has value to the customer.

Being greedy and trying to extract only value for the brand will result is a swift unsubscribe or trip to the junk folder. These metrics of success aren't just numbers, there are people behind them. Use email to build a relationship and a narrative with your customers.

Let Them Go: One of my biggest pet peeves with email is when a marketer tries to hide the unsubscribe option. Sure burying the unsub option in the footer text at 7pt font might decrease the sends total unsubscribes, but what action do you think they take after they can't find an easy solution to stopping the communication?

Savvy marketers know that the next action is the most lethal, marking as SPAM. If you have a high unsub rate, question why. Don't hide the user's options to opt-out. Instead evaluate your cadence, creative, message and segmentation.

Email is a powerful channel for any brand. There are benefits to email's capability to message longer forms of content and to help distribute any form of content marketing. Messengers will continue to grow, especially in situations where users want and need an immediate response. Yet, email still provides a steady, inexpensive and nonintrusive platform to communicate and connect.

Published on: Jun 27, 2017