Why Email Marketing still has the Best ROI in 2022

By Kathryn Mitchell

Email Marketing is still considered one of the most influential and dominating digital marketing methods (Paulo et al., 2022). In a transformational world, it has often been predicted that email would be the declining digital marketing technique used to communicate with customers. But time after time email is still empowering our customers (Hartemo, 2016) and will continue to do so. In this practical blog, I have provided you with some insights that may just change the way that you manage your email marketing.

In a study conducted by the Digital Marketing Institute, interviewing 200+ global marketing leaders, they found that email marketing regularly stands out for its versatility and flexibility to market almost any product in any industry (Ripton, 2022). Additionally, in 2020, email was found to bring an average of 35% ROI to businesses using it as a form of communication for their audience (Statista, 2020).

Average return-on-investment (ROI) of email marketing campaigns in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2016 to 2020 (Statista, 2020)

Since emerging, email marketing has been an early adopter of innovative digital capabilities. Automation introduced an efficient concept built of predefined rules, personalisation and trigger functionalities, that allowed marketers more time for productivity, avoiding reactive intervention (Mailchimp, 2021). It could be said though that success is based on effective usage. Econsultancy’s annual Email Marketing Industry Census suggests that whilst return on investment is most successful via email marketing, 33% of participants considered their automation skills as ineffective (Murphy, 2018).

In 2021, we saw an increase in marketers using emojis in email content and subject lines. This arguably soon became careless, forgetting the structured readability guidelines (Content Design London, 2020). Similarly, GIFs should be used in the right way to ensure clear context, short load time and expression of brand values (Mullen, 2022).  

These findings have shown that it may not be the type of digital marketing methods that you are using, but how you are using those opportunities. Here are 5 top tips to consider to stay competitive when creating an effective email marketing approach.

Click here for Free Email Template Sites

1 Flexibility First

Stay nimble to the changes that take place. Digital marketing can be a test and development process, so ensure that within your planning, you allow for flexibility, moving with internal and external change. Marketing is heavily influenced by the events within the wider business operations, tune in to that and allow it to shape clarity in your messaging.

If you would benefit from a structure to support this, consider the use of SOSTAC (Smith, 2022) to encourage the strategic stages to be present within your planning.

2 The Customer Counts

Before you are tempted to click that send button, ask yourself, is my message answering the customer’s question? No digital marketing activity will be successful if you don’t first have a clear understanding of your target audience (Vaughan, 2022). Explore who you are trying to sell to, investigating their Wants, Needs, and Desires. You may even want to understand their values and what they deem as important when they are choosing to invest in a brand.

3 Objective Outlook

Remember the end game. What are you trying to achieve? If we do not know what we are trying to achieve, how will we know how to measure success? For tactical support in creating effective objectives, try the 5S model. Providing a systematic approach to setting objectives will ensure that success can be understood.

4 Adaptable Aesthetics

The big question here is, where is your customer consuming their digital content? Put yourself in their shoes and imagine them going about their everyday – what do you see? Based on trends, they are likely to be a part of the 67.1% of the global population accessing information on a mobile device (We Are Social, 2022). Your mobile marketing strategy has never been more important, so ensure that your chosen email platform allows for responsive design.

5 Rule, Review and Refine

Your final task is to be fluid. Understanding your email marketing effectiveness will ensure that you are aware of the success factors and techniques which are encouraging interaction from your audience. Build in regular AB testing, and review periods and ensure that you listen to your customers and refine your approach to suit their needs.


Content Design London, . (2020) Emojis, Readability Guidelines. Available at: https://readabilityguidelines.co.uk/images/emojis/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Hartemo, M. (2016) “Email marketing in the era of the empowered consumer,” Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, 10(3), pp. 212–230. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/jrim-06-2015-0040.

Mailchimp, . (2021) What is email automation? A beginner’s guide, Mailchimp Marketing Library. Available at: https://mailchimp.com/en-gb/marketing-glossary/email-automation/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Mullen, A. (2022) Email marketing trends in 2022: Examining design, privacy and process, Econsultancy. Available at: https://econsultancy.com/email-marketing-trends-in-2022-examining-design-privacy-and-process/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Murphy, D. (2018) “Silver bullet or Millstone? A review of success factors for implementation of marketing automation,” Cogent Business & Management, 5(1), p. 1546416. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2018.1546416.

Neil Patel, . (2021) A beginner’s guide to A/B testing: Email campaigns that convert, Neil Patel. Available at: https://neilpatel.com/blog/ab-testing-email-campaigns/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Paulo, M., Miguéis, V.L. and Pereira, I. (2022) “Leveraging email marketing: Using the subject line to anticipate the open rate,” Expert Systems with Applications, 207, p. 117974. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eswa.2022.117974.

Ripton, J. (2022) Why email marketing is still crucial in 2022, DigitalMarketer. Digital Marketer. Available at: https://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog/email-marketing-in-2022/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Smith, P.R. (2022) SOSTAC® official site, PR Smith Marketing. Available at: https://prsmith.org/sostac/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Statista, S. (2020) Roi of e-mail marketing in the UK 2020, Statista. Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/283067/return-on-investment-roi-for-email-marketing-in-the-uk/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Vaughan, P. (2022) How to create detailed buyer personas for your business [free persona template], HubSpot Blog. HubSpot. Available at: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/buyer-persona-research (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

We Are Social, . (2022) Digital 2022: Another Year of bumper growth, We Are Social UK. Available at: https://wearesocial.com/uk/blog/2022/01/digital-2022-another-year-of-bumper-growth-2/ (Accessed: November 4, 2022).

Kat Mitchell teaches on undergraduate and post graduate courses in Digital Marketing and can be emailed Kathryn.Mitchell@staffs.ac.uk

The Government may have got it right on student visas

By Dr Mohammad Ali Wasm

In my blog in 2019 (https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2019/10/28/the-return-of-the-post-study-work-visa/) I evaluated the potential of the return of the post study work visa.

Image: https://interfacealliances.com/uk-restores-two-year-post-study-work-visas/

Despite the lag in the uptake of the scheme due to the pandemic, student numbers have started to pick up significantly and we see a shift in postgraduate numbers from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and other countries. The undergraduate enrolment went up by almost 24.1% from the year 2016/17 and only about 5% from 2019/20 and postgraduate about 13.08% from 2019/20.

Image: https://erudera.com/statistics/uk/uk-international-student-statistics/

The postgraduate increase is mainly because the route is more beneficial because of a shorter time frame to completion compared the undergraduate route. Furthermore, many students prefer to get an undergraduate degree from their own country and then add more value through an international postgraduate degree.

The implications of this influx of international students could be many. On the one hand it would boost the financial benefit for the universities post pandemic . In addition, it will create more employment opportunities at the universities as the student numbers cannot be managed with existing staff. The labour market will benefit as well from the part time work being offered by these students to cater to their living costs. The value addition for the UK economy as planned by the reopening of the Post study work visa regime would be a qualified workforce which would not only contribute but also fill the gap which was created in the workforce post Brexit.

The government needs to ensure that the scheme runs for a few years as cutting it short may result in a negative impact as was the case when the scheme was abolished in 2012.

Image: https://supplywell.co.uk/cost-of-living-crisis/

Given the current cost of living crisis, and as most of these international students have to face significant visa and other costs with their move to the UK. Only time will tell whether the full benefit of the scheme is captured.

Ali Wasim teaches a number of courses in the business school including the Apprenticeship programs CMDA and ODMA.  

Staffordshire Business School adapt Digital Marketing courses to respond to business needs

Following the successful government-funded Small Business Leadership Programme, in conjunction with the Small Business Charter, Staffordshire Business School has enhanced the digital marketing courses to respond to identified business needs.

Issues emerged from the Small Business Leadership Programme

The programme allowed us to work with businesses nationally to understand their key challenges across business operations and provide guidance on how to survive and thrive in a continuously transforming environment. Naturally, businesses have their unique needs, however there were overarching themes identified which impact success. Whilst there have been developments in accessibility of training, digital marketing continues to be highlighted as a significant area with skills gaps. Particularly with the rise in e-commerce as a necessary approach for selling products and services due to the pandemic(Statista, 2020).

The Changing Consumer

It is no secret that in 2020 we saw accelerated changes in the way in which consumers engage with businesses. With 56.3% of the world’s population now on social media (We Are Social, 2021), changing customer expectations is not something that we can ignore. Operationally, we have learned that there is not the required time on a day to day basis to address those vast changes. The Small Business Leadership Programme enabled us to work practically with those businesses to ensure that understanding their audience is not something that is simply discussed in theory, but can be executed. This concept, coupled with working with businesses first hand, is embedded within course curriculum to ensure that the relevant skills are developed prior to entering the professional environment.

Attracting New Business

It is clear from the challenges caused by COVID-19, that if customers are not acquired and retained, business survival is put under great pressure (Hubspot, 2020). But how exactly do we use the right channels to attract new business? Through social listening, strategising against objectives and harmonising with business values, our connected business were able to ‘see the wood from the trees’ when striving for growth. As a digital society, we are inundated with options for promotion. This in fact has been a key barrier for our businesses, who found that perhaps too may options caused confusion of where they should be engaging.

Practical Ways to Plan and Rebuild for the Future

Overall, a general consensus across the five cohorts on the Small Business Leadership Programme was that planning for the future was most challenging, particularly with the reality of the changing environment often being faster than what they could plan for. We supported those businesses to think proactively, utilising guidance from our Entrepreneurs in Residence and to only use reactive approaches when relevant changes emerged for their business. We identify here that in order to support these business challenges, a flexible learning framework is key to any individual developing themselves within digital marketing.

Responding to the identified skills gaps, specifically with SME’s nationally, Staffordshire Business School provides a wide range of Digital Marketing courses focusing on industry expected knowledge, alongside fundamental skills needed to succeed in a professional environment. See our list of available courses below.

There are still places available on all courses, starting September 2021. Our variety of courses support a flexible approach to studying, with options for all experience levels.