When email became a part of our lives in the late 90’s, savvy marketers started using the channel to connect with customers and keep them in the loop about their business.  That’s just what marketers do.  Identify a new channel, test its effectiveness, analyze the results and if successful, go all-in.  In its infancy, email was an incredibly successful digital marketing channel, with open and click through rates above 50%.  Eventually, the frequency of these emails got out of hand and our inboxes became overwhelmed with messages, which led to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.  Since then, email marketing has still been a large component of any digital marketing plan, but over-saturation of the first digital marketing channel is one reason modern marketers have started focusing on other channels, especially social media, to try and replicate the engagement they once had with email.
ExactTarget 2005 Email Open Rates
According to a Constant Contact report from December 2014, the average open rate for email (across all industries) is 18.47 percent.  A similar study from MailChimp reports open rates at 22.31 percent.  Compare that number to the ExactTarget chart above, showing open rates from 2004 and 2005, and it’s evident just how much open rates have declined.  Despite the decline, email marketing isn’t out, and 2014 marked a bit of resurgence for the platform. Product Hunt, one of the most buzzed about startups of 2014, is a champion at email marketing, which is actually how the idea first got started.  Ryan Hoover, the founder of the site, tested the idea with a small email list among friends.  The response and engagement validated his idea, and “the email list became the most important asset and springboard for driving traffic and keeping people coming back again and again”, says Hoover in a recent story.  The same story, published on firstround.com/review, also points out that “a recent McKinsey study declared emails to be 40 times more effective at customer acquisition than Facebook and Twitter combined.”

That study simply reinforces what other industry experts are saying.  Email marketing still works, when done right.

In fact, many analysts predict that 2015 will be the year it makes a triumphant return to the spotlight.

“Email continues to be one of the best tools available to reengage or continue to engage customers and bring them back to your business.” – Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact on 12/17/14

In the the fall of 2014, Percolate conducted a survey of over 250 senior marketers to understand how they plan, coordinate, and execute marketing activity.  The graphic below is a result of the data collected from that survey, emphasizing the amount of time and effort still dedicated to email by major brands.

Percolate 2014 Senior Marketer Insights Report

Image and stats from the 2014 Senior Marketing
Executive Insights Survey by Percolate

The 2015 State Of Marketing report recently published by Salesforce asked 5,000 marketers about their “budgets, priorities, channels, strategies, and metrics for 2015.”  The responses revealed that email is still a critical element of their overall strategy, with 73% of marketers agreeing that email marketing is core to their business.  Even more marketers believe that email marketing produces ROI.

The ROI of Email Marketing

The ROI of Email Marketing, Salesforce 2015 State Of Marketing

Businesses of all shapes and sizes use email marketing, dedicating time and resources to craft and test subject lines, content and calls to action to ensure the best results.  But what about their email list?  How many subscribers are loyal customers?  What percentage of the people being emailed are actual customers?

For many of the businesses in the SocialSign.in network, improving their email list and building it up with qualified information is a top marketing priority, which is part of the reason we work together.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of WiFi marketing as a channel for collecting qualified email information, we analyzed a relatively small sample size of our network (20,000 unique WiFi connection experiences) from the month of December 2014 across 10 randomly chosen locations.  Each connection in this small sample size represents a consumer who visited a venue using SocialSign.in and connected to the WiFi network in that location.  These locations vary in size and industry, ranging from coffee shops and restaurants to museums and live entertainment venues.  The only thing consistent across all ten locations is that they use SocialSign.in to create a marketing channel with their WiFi network, making it really easy for visitors and customers to access their guest WiFi network in the process.  We found that 73% of the WiFi users at these 10 locations converted to email subscribers.

It’s no secret that people love free WiFi and connect to it when they know it’s available.  What is still surprising to many is how effective that channel can be for on-boarding foot traffic into digital initiatives.  Rather than lock and block your network with a password that must be typed upon every visit, our experience has shown us that people hungry for WiFi are more than willing to provide their email address one time in exchange for unlimited WiFi access in the present and future.  There are two reasons why that’s the case.

  1. Choice: WiFi users can provide their email address if they want to get more information, but aren’t forced to do so.  During each connection experience, a custom branded splash page greets the user and gives them the option of connecting directly to the web or engaging in a specified, targeted marketing message first. This can deep link to an app download, social media channel, or in this case, email subscription.  One way or another, the process is simple and only requires a few clicks.
  2. Context: There isn’t a more relevant time to sign up for a mailing list to receive offers and news than while you’re physically on location in that business.

We’re big believers in the effectiveness of WiFi as a marketing channel and also believe that the expectation from consumers to have WiFi wherever they go is on the rise.  This is creating an exciting opportunity for any physical business to build better relationships with the foot traffic that drives their revenue.  More often than not, these businesses (and their marketing teams) are excited by the prospect of WiFi marketing when they learn about it, they just needed someone to teach them.

To learn more about how SocialSign.in can help your business build its email list and accomplish other marketing goals, contact us today.