Email is the Most Consistent, Reliable Marketing Channel on the Web and I Can Prove It

This is a very short post to say: If you’re not investing in your own email marketing list, you’re making a bad choice.

Social media engagement rates have plummeted the last 15 years. Ad engagement, too. Google CTRs have fallen massively the last decade with the rise of zero-click searches. The visibility of TV and print advertisements have died off with those mediums. There are tiny exceptions to these (televised sports, some print magazines, podcast advertising, etc.). But, by and large, every marketing channel that’s risen in the last quarter century has fallen in efficacy the last decade.

Except email.

I spent a foolishly long time tracking down (through Google searches with date-parameter limiting, the Wayback Machine, and a variety of old marketing blogs, Reddit posts quoting old resources, etc.) average email open and click-through rates from large providers whose data seemed reasonable, in agreement with others from that era, and non-specialized to a particular industry or region. The data tells a simple story.

Email, thanks to its independence from monopoly-power and the inevitable enshittification their incentives demand, is the channel that never dies.

If you’re not investing in an email list, you’re almost certainly missing out. That TikTok/Instagram/Threads/Twitter/LinkedIn following you’re building? Statistically it’s better to trade 1,000 new followers for a single email subscriber. That’s how lopsided the value-exchange is.

“But young people aren’t using email! In a few years, once <insert arbitrary generation name here> is a majority of the workforce, email will die!”

Yawn. Prognosticators have been saying that since 2003. It’s never come true. As people age, they need email addresses. They realize important things they can’t ignore come through email. They want discounts at furniture stores for their first apartment and on video games that go on sale, and the IRS notifications and their driver’s license renewal notice. Young people won’t kill email. AI won’t kill email. FAANG won’t kill email (much as they’d love to). Email is here to stay.

P.S. I strongly recommend against outsourcing ownership of your email list to Substack, Beehiiv, Medium, or any of the other platforms that don’t give you full ownership and control.

Sources for this data include: listings for GetResponse and Mailchimp benchmark pages