"Email is dead" and other digital marketing myths

Phrasee’s CEO Parry Malm will be joining a YMS17 panel discussion all about navigating the digital language of youth. Here Phrasee give their list of digital marketing myths hampering the internet’s true marketing potential.

As each new year dawns, the digital world and its many blogs become filled to bursting with lists of predictions about what we can expect in the year to come.

Some prove to be bang on. Others, not so much.

Here’s a list of predictions that have missed the mark and so we here at Phrasee have relegated to our “myths” file.

Myth #1: Email is dead

People have been sounding the death knell of email for the better part of a decade.

However, in spite of the people repeatedly calling for email's head, the internet communications medium that started it all is not only alive and well… but thriving. Click through rates for marketing emails consistently hover around the 5.7% mark across all industries. Compare that with the click through rates of social media giants like Facebook (0.07%) and Twitter (0.03%) [Source: Mailmunch]. And, then consider that according to the DMA, 66% of online consumers report having made a purchase as the result of an email message.

And BTW these numbers aren’t decreasing – in fact they’re increasing! Not bad for a channel that Mark Zuckerberg claimed Facebook was gonna kill in 2009. Oh, and for those of you who enjoy irony – guess which company sends out more emails than nearly anyone else?

While the way users and marketers interact with email has shifted drastically over the past decade, believing that email is in decline, let alone "dead" is just plain bad math. We at Phrasee have seen our client list grow by leaps and bounds over the past year, as more and more companies come to their senses about the myriad benefits of email marketing.

Advice: If email marketing isn’t a key aspect of your digital strategy, it should be. According to research from Adestra, 73% of millennials identify email as their preferred platform on which to interact with brands. Email can reach your audience in a relevant and personalised way that few other digital channels can come close to matching.

Myth #2: Advertising on Facebook is a failure and always will be

As yet, Facebook's incredible promise as a targeted, data-rich advertising platform has failed to deliver to any meaningful degree. According to MarTech expert Nate Elliott, only 51% of marketers report feeling satisfied with how Facebook helps them connect with users.

With a massive user base, treasure trove of real-time user feedback (in the form of "likes" and "comments") and the resources to develop the algorithms necessary to sift through that data, Facebook has the potential to be an unparalleled contender for online advertising.

But they aren't there yet.              

The failure of the internet's reigning social media champion to deliver on its promise can be attributed to many factors:

  • Unskilled marketers saturating the platform with garbage ads.
  • Sorting through the available user data to target Facebook ads is currently a tedious task.
  • User disinterest and desensitisation.
  • The interface does not lend itself to allowing advertisers to convert users without disrupting their user experience.

It’s because of these shortcomings that many digital marketers have complained about terrible ROI numbers and, in some cases; even write the platform off entirely as a viable direct marketing channel.

We think that’s silly. And here’s why...

With over a billion monthly active users, the idea that it’s Facebook's responsibility to make life easy for advertisers on its platform is a little unfair, and any forward-thinking marketer willing to try out new ideas could easily overcome its challenges.

Third party products like Adimo, which offers shortcuts in the online purchase journey and sales funnel without disrupting user experience, have demonstrated that advertising can work on any platform, provided it is executed effectively.

In the case of Facebook’s advertising viability, the question isn't if it will be successful, but 1) When it will begin to deliver better ROI and conversions? 2) Who will be the first to consistently crack the Facebook marketing nut? 3) What form will successful Facebook ad campaigns eventually take?

Advice: Don’t give up on Facebook advertising. According to the Pew Research Center, 88% of online adults between 18 and 29 are regular users of Facebook. As a channel for accessing the under 30 demographic, Facebook’s reach is unmatched and it doesn’t appear this will change in the foreseeable future. In terms of strategy for accessing this market, more of the same simply won’t cut it. Utilising new and innovative approaches within Facebook’s existing platform is the best way to getting your brand’s message out there and converting your audience.

Myth #3: Live streaming video will become an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy

Many experts have pointed to the huge response that live streaming generated during the 2016 US Presidential elections as irrefutable evidence that live streaming video is going to be ‘the next big thing’ in digital advertising.

This correlation contains three very important flaws that should be considered.

  • This year’s US election and its bizarre stable of candidates (Donald Trump, anyone?) constituted a media storm, the likes of which we are not likely to see again in our lifetime.
  • Brands are boring. Sure, some brands have managed to build a positive brand image with some semblance of cool factor, but does that really translate into something that people will want to watch live for an extended period of time?
  • Modern social media audiences (particularly younger users) are extremely picky about how they spend their time online. While live streaming video of important social, political and pop-culture events garner huge numbers of viewers (if executed effectively) and some social media influencers have masterfully made use of streaming video targeted at their voracious followers, converting these audiences into successful live streaming from brands will be a very tough sell.  

Advice: If you want to make use of live streaming video as a marketing platform, consider collaborating with influencers. There’s a veritable army of vloggers and YouTube stars with huge followings eager to accept your sweet marketing moolah in exchange for a few moments of their live streaming video time. If you want to engage young people, you have to offer them something they like, presented in a way that holds their interest for more than 15 seconds.


Here’s what you need to remember.

The marketing world has, as yet, barely scratched the surface of the internet’s true marketing potential.

What marketers have failed to exploit effectively and understand thus far is exactly how different the digital age is (and will be) to the marketing world of yesteryear.

At Phrasee we have made it our business to put email marketing under the microscope and find ways to cut through the noise and reach consumers effectively. There are talented folks out there that have done the same in almost every nook and cranny of the digital world. They are worth listening to.

Strategies and approaches that worked effectively on traditional marketing channels simply don’t get the job done properly in a digital world where the way young people access and consume information and entertainment changes by the day. So making accurate predictions of what the digital marketplace will look like a year, or even a few months, down the road in such an environment is no small task.

So take a step back, and turn down the noise, and focus on what matters the most - doing marketing. Awesomely.

Haven't got your tickets for YMS LDN 2017 yet? Head on over to our event page for more information on the biggest youth marketing conference in Europe.