The State of Email Marketing Is...

…strong, but could be stronger, according to the finding of our 2014 State of Marketing report, which surveyed more than 2,500 marketers. First, the testaments to email’s strength:

Eighty-eight percent of marketers use email marketing and another 9% said they plan to launch an email program this year. Only 3% said they don’t plan on using email marketing.

Sixty-eight percent of marketers believe that email marketing is core to their business. That’s an impressive endorsement of the channel.

Fifty-eight percent of marketers plan on increasing their spending on email marketing this year. Only data & analytics (61%) and marketing automation (60%) rated higher as spending priorities.

But marketers’ key priorities clearly revealed two chief opportunities. Forty-seven percent of marketers said that increasing conversion rates was a priority, making it their No. 1 goal. Related, the third highest priority was collecting, measuring and using behavior-based data.



Opportunity #1

These priorities scream for expanded use of triggered emails, which thankfully was in line with marketers’ plans for 2014. Almost across the board, 20% to 30% of marketers said they planned to launch various triggered email programs. For instance, 30% said they planned to introduce a welcome email series; 29% win-back email; 28% browse abandonment email; 21% anniversary email; 20% cart abandonment email; and 19% birthday email.

This enthusiasm for triggered emails is well-justified, as marketers reported finding great success with them. For example, 43% said they found excellent or very good success with birthday emails; 42% with welcome series; 42% with cart abandonment emails; and 42% with browse abandonment emails.

Because most of these are behavior-triggered, these emails have high conversion rates and reduce list fatigue.

Opportunity #2

Marketers’ top priorities also screamed for better mobile optimization. In addition to wanting higher conversion rates, 65% of marketers said that driving subscriber engagement is their primary lifecycle challenge.

Mobile users regularly tune out or unsubscribe from brands that send them desktop-centric emails. So improving the mobile-friendliness of your emails and email landing pages clearly leads to both higher conversion rates and better overall engagement.

Sixty-five percent of marketers told us that more than 30% of their emails were opened on a mobile device. But only 41% of them use responsive design always or often (and frankly that’s much rosier than indicated by my own observational research into retailers’ use of responsive design). Considering the high level of mobile email reading, marketers have some significant catching up to do this year in terms of making their email more mobile-friendly.

This imperative is strengthened by the fact that email is by far marketers’ No. 1 mobile channel. Only 26% of marketers have an SMS program in place, with 25% planning to launch one this year, but 49% planning not to use it. And only 18% of marketers are using mobile push, with 29% planning to implement it this year, but 53% not planning on using it. So if you believe mobile is critical to your business, email should be a center of investment.

I have high hopes for advancements in email marketing this year. Triggered emails and mobile email improvements are not only marketers’ clear priorities, but absolutely the right ones, in my opinion. If we can avoid distractions, the 2014 holiday season will be better for email marketers than the last one, and we’ll end the year in an even stronger position than we started it.

4 comments about "The State of Email Marketing Is... ".
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  1. Al DiGuido from Optimus Publishing, January 28, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.

    With the USPS and Congress continuing to push higher postal marketers...If doing ALL you can to move off legacy direct mail isn't a mission critical priority this year...You are just simply being a foolish romantic. It's time to think email as your core direct marketing channel. Your customers continue to shift to digital channels whether you believe it or not. If your company doesn't embrace this are one step closer to being out of business. Please..stop romancing the USPS and the days when print DM was a powerful medium. There are still folks that are listening to vinyl records...but most of us have moved on.. Time to get on board or be done.

  2. Jon Tonti from Sproutloud, January 29, 2014 at 12:17 p.m.

    I was researching some stats on Triggered Email Marketing (because the company I work for just launched a triggered marketing email tool for brands to be able to run triggered marketing through their distribution partners) and this is what I found:

    The Email Experience Council reported Click Rates 119% higher for triggered messages than “Business as Usual” messages in Q1 of 2012. (Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association)

    Email Marketing Research Center data published in March of 2013 shows open rates and click-through-rates twice has high for triggered emails when compared to regular batch and blast emails. (Epsilon)

    Outdoor Industry Association retailers that utilize triggered emails attested they consistently saw the largest response rates of any emails the retailers send. (Outdoor Industry Association)

    In quarter two of 2012 triggered email accounted for only 2.6% of total email volume, although that showed a 22% increase over quarter one. (Epsilon)

    39% of respondents to a 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Survey said they used triggered email to increase relevance and engagement of their email campaigns, more than any other method. (Marketing Sherpa)

    Seems like the stats speak for themselves.

  3. Chad White from Litmus, January 29, 2014 at 3:31 p.m.

    Jon, thanks for sharing those stats. Yes, the performance of triggered emails is very impressive, which is why I'm a strong advocate of their wider use. They are a win-win for brands and their subscribers.

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