The Power of Email in Advertising

Email is used in advertising to communicate with potential, new, and repeat customers. While it is used to deliver informed, helpful, and brand-specific content, it is not as promotional as other advertising methods


The Power of Email in Advertising
What is Email Advertising?
Why Use Email Advertising?
Trust, privacy, and the end of...
How Much Does Email Advertising...
How to Use Email in Marketing and...
1. Prepare a Plan of Action: Iden...
3. Create Killer Content
4. Frequency and Follow-ups
5. Track, Measure, Repeat...
Make the subscription process...
Use double opt-in
Avoid spamming
Schedule advertising emails
Perform split-testing
Is Email Marketing Effective?
Relevant and engaging content
Eye-catching subject lines
Professional templates
Segmenting Lists
Effective Email Advertising Ex...
1. Netflix: Checking Back In
2. Birchbox: 'Free Prize' Game
3. Would You Rather: Interactive...
The Power of Email in Advertising
The Power of Email in Advertising
The Role of Email

Email is used in advertising to communicate with potential, new, and repeat customers. While it is used to deliver informed, helpful, and brand-specific content, it is not as promotional as other advertising methods. The concept is to bond and engage with your audience through personalised content that meets consumer needs at every buyer journey stage while only alluding to the value of your brand and product/service. This makes consumers feel like they mean more to you than dollar signs because you’re taking the time to get to know them to fulfill their needs to the best of your ability.

Email also plays a significant role in branding by improving brand awareness, differentiation, interest, value, customer experience, and conversions. This is done by using the knowledge you have on your consumers to segment your emails to reach the right people at the right time, meeting the receiver’s specific consumer needs. Since research shows that 70% of millennials are frustrated with brands sending irrelevant emails, and 83% of consumers are willing to share their data with brands to help create a more personalized experience — email can do a lot for your branding when done correctly.

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The Power of Email in Advertising

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In a similar sense, email plays an important role in your overall marketing strategy too. It is the cohesive connection between all of your marketing channels that allows you to attract consumers from one channel and direct them to another when the time comes (i.e., buyer journey), making their exposure to your brand at every touchpoint consistent and positive.

What is Email Advertising?

Email advertising is no longer a one-size-fits-all mass emailing strategy but rather a highly segmented, personalised, and mutually consenting form of communication that uses email as a tool to inform, teach, and build strong relationships with your audience. It is a strategy used by marketers to deliver content to recipients who have opted-in and consented to receiving promotional messages from a brand, typically in exchange for rewards, deals, and discounts.

With nearly four billion active email users in 2020 and a prediction of as many as 4.6 billion set for 2025, any business — no matter their stage or industry — looking to generate sales, promote their products/services, improve customer relationships, and incentivise brand loyalty will benefit from email advertising. In fact, Oberlo reports that with every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average of $42 back. Better yet, it is known to be the main driver of customer acquisition and retention (even over social media, paid, and organic search), with research revealing that 81% of businesses rely on it for acquisition and 80% rely on email for retention.

It is most commonly used to tailor content relevant to the recipient who opted-in to be a part of your email list. The type of content and when you deliver it after earning that consent depends on their buyer journey and your intent (i.e., nurture a lead, improve your brand awareness, generate a sale, build or maintain customer loyalty, acquire a new customer, etc.). This is why it is so important to know your audience and segment your email list accordingly.

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Why Use Email Advertising?

There’s a reason marketers still use email advertising more than five decades after being introduced to the marketing world. Not only does it benefit your customers with a more unified, consistent experience with your brand better than other forms of advertising, but it also benefits your business with a track record of being more successful in areas essential to the growth of your company.

When asking what benefits you can expect from email advertising, you’ll likely get an array of responses. However, the leading reasons for using email advertising include:

  • Traffic and revenue generation – Email is one of the leading methods for generating traffic to your website, blog, social media, etc. This is because it can spark interest among already engaged users with a taste of your offer and direct them to your desired location for more information or to take action. As for profitability, recent research has also found that many marketers can expect to benefit from a 3,800% ROI, with 59% of marketers saying email is their biggest source of ROI.
  • Brand awareness – As arguably one of the most important components of a business and its marketing goals, brand awareness can be regularly improved through email. You can achieve this by tracking and measuring results to inform future email campaigns and efforts, accessing and evaluating your target audience, and personalising your content. This will build relationships and encourage word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Lead nurturing – Email is particularly beneficial for lead nurturing because it allows you to create and deliver any kind of content necessary to reach and resonate with your leads. This includes modifying your emails to meet your customers wherever they’re at in their buyer journey.
  • Cost-effective – Digital marketing alone is much more cost-effective than other marketing methods, but this is particularly true for email. While other advertising methods have additional costs like ad space, print, postage, and others associated with them, email is completely in-house. Combined with high ROIs, there’s no denying this benefit.
  • Speed – With access to an expansive email list of consenting recipients at the click of your fingertips, brands are better able to reach a large audience in a short amount of time using email. In fact, 21.49% of emails are opened within the first hour of delivery and nearly doubles to 40.85% by the end of the third hour. Add in automation, and you can save even more time.
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  • Reaching targeted audiences – With the help of consumer data, your brand can easily reach a targeted audience that’s more open to hearing about your offers and taking action. Email also allows you to use the information you have on these recipients to better segment and target them with content they resonate with.
  • Shareable – You can achieve this benefit by offering referral rewards and discounts, running contests and giveaways, including a ‘share’ button, and more. It’s important because it increases your chances of being passed around from customer to potential customer, improving your brand awareness and boosting traffic.
  • Easy to track and measure success – The best way to assess that any marketing effort is worth your time is by measuring it. Email is particularly easy to navigate when tracking and measuring success. To do this, you’ll need to measure metrics like open rate, bounce rate, conversion rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, campaign ROI, complaint rate, forward/share rate, and list growth rate.
  • Permission-based – Since email is an advertising method that you cannot use without a participant opting in, it has become a preferred method for most consumers. In fact, The Business Journals points out that it’s hard to get 90% of Americans to agree on anything and yet 91% of U.S. adults liked receiving emails from companies. This is especially true for the large percentage of people concerned with their personal data and privacy.
Trust, privacy, and the end of third-party cookies

It’s particularly important to expand on the importance and benefit of email regarding trust and privacy.

In response to consumers heavily pushing for more control of their data, Google announced in early 2020 that they would be improving web browsing privacy by phasing out third-party cookies until they are obsolete in 2022.

“Users are demanding greater privacy–including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used,” the technology company announced. “And it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.” Other companies are following suit.

While many marketers are scrambling to figure out what they’re going to do now that the cookie is dead, email remains a prevalent method for brand/consumer communication that adheres to the ever-changing privacy laws and regulations making their way into marketing.

How Much Does Email Advertising Cost?

A few short emails can lead to a boost in your annual revenue and thousands back in profit when done correctly. As for how much you should spend to maximize your benefits, an eConsultancy study reported that marketers recommend spending about 16% of your total marketing budget on email marketing, as the study’s results showed that not only was there an 80% ROI achieved, but email accounted for an unbelievable 23% of the marketer’s total sales for that year.

Keep in mind, however, that this number can vary from company to company depending on the size of your business and other factors like:

  • Who you’re selling to – depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, the amount of time and cost it takes to persuade a lead to become a customer can differ. For instance, B2B clients take longer to make a purchasing decision than B2C customers.
  • The size of your email list – if you have a short email list, you may need to relocate more money into attracting more recipients and growing your email list. On the other hand, a business with a decent-sized email list readily available to them can save on costs associated with attracting more recipients.
  • Your email marketing goals – depending on your email marketing goals, you could be looking at more in costs if your goals are more ambitious. Take, for instance, a small goal to increase your email list versus more challenging (and typically ongoing) goals to nurture leads and build customer relationships.
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The Power of Email in Advertising

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On average, mid-size businesses could be looking at anywhere from $9 to $1,000 for email advertising campaigns that are self-managed by the company and $300 to $500 a month if they choose to work with an agency. Additional costs worth considering include about $65-$100 per hour for a Graphic Designer to take on design work and imagery, $100 to $200 each for a freelancer to write your emails and about $200 a month for software depending on the size of your business.

With that being said, companies stand to lose money if they don’t integrate email advertising into their marketing campaigns. This is because you risk losing out on the opportunity to improve your brand awareness and attract more customers to your brand and product/services, reach all of your audience with one of the most cost-effective methods of advertising, and miss out on a chance to nurture customer relationships that lead to brand loyalty and repeat purchases.

Brand loyalty alone can make all the difference in how much you get back from all of your email marketing efforts. According to Forbes, brands that nurture loyalty (like many do via email) have a 14X higher chance of selling to an existing customer than a new one. Likewise, loyal customers are also more inclined to spend 31% more than new customers and are 50% more likely to try new products/services your brand offers.

How to Use Email in Marketing and Advertising

Maximising your potential with email in marketing and advertising has everything to do with having the right email software like Passendo, the goals you aim for, and how you plan to use email in your campaign strategy. Believe it or not, even a mediocre attempt at executing an email strategy in your advertising can bring some benefit to reaching your business goals — but a well-thought-out plan of action will take your brand to the next level.

Run a successful email marketing campaign in five easy steps:

  1. Prepare a Plan of Action: Identify Your Goals, Audience, and Email Options
  2. Build and Segment Your Email List
  3. Create Killer Content
  4. Frequency and Follow-ups
  5. Track, Measure, Repeat
1. Prepare a Plan of Action: Identify Your Goals, Audience, and Email Options

Every success story begins with planning. This means organising and identifying your goals with this email campaign, who your target audience is, and getting familiar with all of your email options.

First and foremost, always set clear and concise goals for your email campaign. We recommend SMART goals because they’re Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Then, you’ll need to go through everything you know about your target audience — who are they? What type of content do they enjoy consuming? What are their demographics, interests, buyer behaviors? Also, what stage of the buyer journey are they in? The more you know, the better.

Finally, you’ll want to consider your email options and match them to your campaign goals. Email options can include weekly newsletters, lead nurturing emails, survey emails, promotional emails, welcome messages, confirmations, milestones, and more.

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2. Build and Segment Your Email List

Once you have your plan laid it, it’s time to begin building up your email list and segmenting it into targeted groups to ensure you’re giving your customers the most relevant and personalised experience possible.

Building your email list can include optimising your website to encourage more opt-ins, promoting sign-ups in exchange for ’email only’ specials, end blog content with strong call-to-actions (CTAs) to email sign-ups, post promotions on social media, and encourage word-of-mouth, referrals, shares, and forwards among current recipients.

Segmentation can get a little more complicated but is essential to successfully targeting your audience. This is done through identifying and defining data points, developing personas, and segmenting your recipients via:

Leads versus new customers versus recurring customers
Buyer Journey Stages (i.e., awareness, consideration, decision)
Type of email relevant to the recipient (i.e., welcome emails to new customers, retargeting promotional email to recurring customers, etc.)

3. Create Killer Content

With your email marketing plan and segmented audiences in mind, it is now time to create some killer content that will attract, spark interest, and encourage ongoing engagement with your brand. This includes paying special attention to the following:

  • Design – your written content gets your main message out there, but it’s your visuals, structure/layout, and alignment to your brand that truly make you stand out from the competition. This includes the use of emojis, which are said to increase your open rate by 29% and CTR by 28%.
  • Main Copy – your main copy is what it’s all about. You want to get your message across in short and easy-to-read paragraphs that encourage the reader to take some sort of action, whether that be reading your blog, making a purchase, referring your email/brand/product, etc
  • Subject Line – make it personalised, attention-grabbing, short (we recommend 6 to 9 words), and as descriptive as possible given your word limit (informative and straight-forward). It should also be truthful. Subject lines that pull readers in for one topic with main copy covering another topic will get the email opened now — but likely will get ignored later like the kid that cried wolf.
4. Frequency and Follow-ups

Email frequency and follow-ups are important components of every email strategy. Email communication with your consumers should always be consistent and ongoing — never one-and-done.

Frequency depends on the type of emails you’re sending out. For instance, if you’re sending out a newsletter, it is often weekly, so once a week will suffice. However, promotional emails should be sent for every deal, discount, and sale worth mentioning to customers.

Follow-ups are a little different but just as important. They typically aim to remind the recipient of a previous email, intended action, and even sometimes to ensure your customer is satisfied with your service. Ideally, 2 to 3 follow-ups will be successful, with the first follow-up leading the charge in reply rates.

5. Track, Measure, Repeat

Tracking and measuring your results (both successes and failures) will allow you to make more informed decisions on future decisions. This means analysing key metrics like the following:

Time spent on site
Bounce Rates
Display click-through-rate (CTR)
Native CTR

Finally, repeat the process. The real key to making email work in your advertising campaign is to continue to build from your trial and error so that future campaigns are always being improved upon and optimized.

Email Advertising Best Practices

Like everything in marketing, the only way to ensure you’re doing the right way is to implement best practices. For email advertising, this means doing the following:

  1. Make the subscription process easy
  2. Use double opt-in
  3. Avoid spamming
  4. Schedule advertising emails
  5. Perform split-testing
  6. Mobile-friendly
Make the subscription process easy

There’s nothing more damaging to your email advertising than attracting the right consumers to your email list, only to lose them to a subscription process that makes them say, “forget about it,” and leave. Consumers aren’t going to opt-in for your emails if they have to work hard at it, so make it as easy and smooth as possible to get their email in and receive their reward if there is one.

With that being said, your unsubscribe process should also be easy. You don’t want to tick off your recipients and push them to move you to a folder they don’t bother with or label you as spam.

Use double opt-in

It may be tempting to build your email list as high as possible, but it’s crucial that you are only spending time and money on recipients who WANT to receive your emails. Otherwise, you have a lot of wasted effort.

This is where using a doubt opt-in feature can ensure only the people truly interested in your offers are receiving them. It includes your initial subscription process, followed by an email delivered to the recipient telling the user to confirm their subscription (i.e., clickable links saying Verify My Email Address, Yes, I Want to Subscribe, etc.).

Avoid spamming

There was a time when brands thought pushing out as many emails as possible was the only way to get one or two emails opened. In fact, it was called the “spray and pray method” and was used often. Today, that kind of strategy will only get you sent straight to the spam folder because it antagonises the receiver and makes your brand look bad.

The truth is, there are absolutely no examples of campaigns that were successful with a spamming method and believe it or not, it’s also a violation of privacy and illegal in many countries. For this reason and more, you should avoid it at all costs.

Schedule advertising emails

Much like having a plan for your campaign sets you up for success, having a schedule ensures your advertising emails are delivered on time and at the best times, according to your pre-planned agenda.

For some marketers, this could mean laying out a calendar and adding a reminder, but automated software with the delivery schedule already set in advance will be more successful. Just be sure to identify and include the best time and day to deliver emails to your audience (always keep testing to pinpoint more accurate days/times) and factor in time zones.

Perform split-testing

Tracking and measuring all your results in email advertising is crucial to the success of your campaigns. Performing split-testing ensures that your email efforts are as optimised as possible, reaching and resonating with your recipients to the best of your ability. Every small detail can make a difference in this area of marketing.

This is how it works. You take your original email and test it again a modified email to measure results. The modified email will have a single, small change in the subject heading, CTA, design, etc. You should only change one element at a time for this to work and increase traffic to your intended destination.


In this day and age, everything in your marketing and advertising should be optimised for mobile, meaning short paragraphs, CTAs front and center, and mobile-friendly images and design/structure.

This is especially important since research shows that mobile not only accounts for 52.2% of webpage traffic worldwide (57% in the U.S.), but 60% of email opens are from mobile devices.

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Is Email Marketing Effective?

Email marketing effectiveness depends on the brand implementing it, whether they’re following all the right practices, and their optimisation strategy with every email campaign. For most brands, however, recent research has found that email marketing is not only effective but more effective than other forms of advertising like social media, display, direct mail, print, and more.

In fact, there is a record high 4.03 billion active email users today, a number that almost doubles that of Facebook’s active user list and surpasses the number of active users on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter combined. Better yet, the pandemic recently rocked the digital world and increased the importance of online communication. Statista reports that during a time when people are turning to technology to limit in-person contact, “email has become one of the primary methods of personal and business communication in the United States and worldwide.” This only goes to show that email will always be a preferred method of communication for many people, despite having numerous options available to them.

Moreover, email has always been a more trusted form of brand-consumer communication than paid advertising like display and print because recipients are asked for permission to send promotional messages, given the option to unsubscribe, targeted with segmented and personalised content, and when done correctly — adding more value to the recipient’s day-to-day life.

As for businesses, it’s more clear than ever that email is here to stay, remaining a crucial component of company growth and success. Not only has research shown that email newsletters are among the three leading content marketing tactics used by B2B and B2C marketers in North America, but digital lead advertising spend on formats like email or search amounted to 2.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach 3.2 billion by the end of 2023.

And as if that doesn’t already support email’s importance in advertising and marketing, there’s also the average success rate of the following metrics to back it up:

  • Consumer interest – consumers prefer being contacted by brands via email over other big forms of communication. In fact, a recent study found that out of all the ways a brand could contact them, 51% chose email, 25% chose social, 10% chose mail, 9% chose text, 3% chose mobile push, and 2% chose phone call.
  • Engagement – as many as 99% of email users check their email every day, and some are known to check it as many as 20 times or more a day. This gives your brand more opportunities than even social media to engage with and encourage engagement from your audience.
  • Lead generation – lead generation is often one of the biggest challenges for marketers, but fortunately, research shows that 42% of companies consider email to be one of their most important lead generation channels, and 79% of B2B marketers think email is the most effective for demand generation.
  • Open rates – on average, marketers say you should strive to have a 15-25% open rate for your emails. Fortunately, open rates worldwide average around 18%, and in North American average around 30%.
  • Click-through rates (CTRs) – CTRs, on the other hand, should sit around 2.5%. According to a Statista study, email marketing CTRs in North America averaged around 2.9% in 2019.
  • Return-on-investment (ROI) – it’s already been stated that marketers report earning ROIs up to 3,800% and higher, but did you know other studies have also shown that only 11% of marketers worldwide report poor ROI results with their email campaigns.
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More importantly, it’s not just effective for new businesses entering the scene. Already established businesses with significant success also take advantage of email marketing to build and maintain relationships with their customers. Even industry giants like Amazon and Nike take to email campaigns to promote their brand and business, inform customers of upcoming sales and promotions, and follow up with every customer’s experience, satisfaction, and reviews.

Take, for instance, Email Mastery’s breakdown of Nike’s email marketing. Not only is Nike one of the most well-known athletic brands on the market, 90th on the Fortune 500 list, and generating an annual revenue of nearly $36 billion a year — but the brand still makes a special effort to send a variation of emails that welcome recipients, remind about abandon carts, are scheduled to come out weekly, announce back-in-stock products, ask for customer service feedback, and post-purchase contact. If a brand as successful as Nike swears by it, how could one argue against email marketing’s effectiveness?

How to Improve Email Open and Read Rates

As you now know, email marketing is, without a doubt, effective. Nonetheless, no successful business today gets where they are without consistently improving their approach, techniques, and average rates.

Here are some of Passendo’s most valuable tips on improving open, read, and click-through rates:

Relevant and engaging content
Eye-catching subject lines
Professional templates
Segmenting lists

Relevant and engaging content

Keeping your content relevant and engaging to your target audience is key to improving your average rates. This is because recipients prefer receiving content that is relevant to their likes and interests. In fact, studies have shown that with the Millennial generation alone, at least 34% say they’re annoyed with brands that send emails about products/services that are irrelevant to them.

As for making your content more engaging, it’s important that before anything — you know your audience. Then you can ensure you’re writing to people (don’t be robotic!), discarding industry jargon for more simple and straightforward language, and using subheadings to break up content (some marketers swear by the ‘Inverted Pyramid‘ method) to make it more engaging.

Relevant and engaging content

Subject lines are one of the most important elements of an email — it’s what appeals to or piques the recipient’s interest, and it’s what will get you thrown into their spam or trash folder if it’s done poorly. Think of it as your email’s first impression on a customer. You want it to be a good one!

Consider improving your subject lines by adding urgency to your language. This will encourage the receiver to check the offer out right away before missing out on something they didn’t know they wanted. Example: Time Sensitive Offer on Our Hottest Tools.

Another option would be to make one that appeals to their curiosity. Take, for instance, GrubHub’s subject line: Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About.

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Personalisation is no longer a benefit to customers but rather an expectation. It makes recipients feel more valued by your brand in a world where many businesses are perceived as selfish and only out to make more money. You could do this by using the first-party data you collect on them to make it easier to suggest things for them to read, including their first name in the subject line and in your initial greeting.

Recipients also like content that comes across as written directly to them. For instance, a long-time repeat customer would get a lot of joy from an email that expresses appreciation for their loyalty to your brand for ‘X’ amount of years (i.e., anniversary emails).

Professional templates

Sure, you can take on your own structure for emailing recipients, but more often than not, it isn’t as successful and isn’t nearly as appealing to recipients as professionally formatted ones. This even makes things easier on you because the templates are more efficient and easier to replicate when needed.

Better yet, you can keep using it for your campaign now and in the future. All you have to do is change up the content to save on all the extra time and effort.

Segmenting Lists

Segmenting is another area of email marketing that you should always work on and improve. This is because the better you are at segmenting your email list, the better you will be at targeting your audience with content that is the most relevant, appealing, engaging, and helpful to them. The best way to do this is to use the best email software available to you, a tool for developing targeted email opt-in forms and lead magnets that encourage visitors to reveal valuable segmentation data.

Effective Email Advertising Examples

There’s never anything wrong with looking to other brands (especially your competition!) for insight into what email advertising efforts are successful and why. In all honesty, there’s no better way to get ahead than to know and understand your competition.

To inspire your next email marketing campaign, here are three examples of the best email advertisements to emulate with your own unique twist.

1. Netflix: Checking Back In

Netflix has a great strategy for using email campaigns to check back in with users who haven’t signed in for a little while. Based on the subscriber’s account, Netflix sent TV shows and movie recommendations to pull viewers back in after a few days out. This works so well because it reminds subscribers of shows they may have already intended to watch and gives them relevant recommendations based on topics they’ve enjoyed in the past.

2. Birchbox: ‘Free Prize’ Game

Another great email advertising example is Birchbox‘s unique take on offering a free prize to recipients who open and engage with their emails. This campaign, in particular, used a fortune cookie game to encourage the recipient’s first purchase while turning their ‘free offer’ into a playful game for entertainment.

This approach was so successful because it combines entertainment, a promotional incentive, and a first-time purchase — all in one. What consumer would be able to resist winning free stuff while playing games?

3. Would You Rather: Interactive Emails

Would You Rather is known for using interactive emails in their campaigns to better engage with their recipients. In this case, the company asks a ‘would you rather’ question every week and delivers the previous survey results along with it. For instance, this example reveals the results of “Would you rather have a snake for your… Boss or Best Friend.” Even better, they encourage recipients to respond with comments by posting the “best darn responses” with the survey results.

This is successful because it gets recipients excited to participate and increases their anticipation for the result in the next email. Any variation of surveys, reviews, and questions will work as long as you add your unique brand touch to it.

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The Power of Email in Advertising

By this point, the power of email in advertising is undeniable. Not only are there more than 319.6 billion emails sent and received per day worldwide (a number that is expected to increase to more than 376.4 billion by 2025), but the platform is steadily growing in active users. This is because it brings brands and consumers together for a more mutually beneficial experience — brands get their messages and offer to consumers, and consumers receive that content only when they have given their permission.

Better yet, brands are known to benefit in numerous ways when they implement email into their advertising, including better ROIs, more consumer engagement with your brand, improved lead generation despite being a major marketing challenge, and stronger customer relationships that build and maintain brand loyalty. Not to mention, brands have also reported experiencing more success with email than any other form of advertising.

The key to making the most out of your email advertising is to get started. From there, you’ll need email ad server technology like Passendo’s to ensure you can reach your campaign goals without any problem. After all, your results can only be as good as the software you used to get you there. Contact our team today and start maximising your brand’s potential right away.

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The Power of Email in Advertising

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