Email marketing is the top-ranking channel for marketing return on investment, according to new research released Wednesday by Adestra and eConsultancy, but the study suggests that marketers still struggle to make email marketing personalized.
Email marketing ranked as the top digital marketing channel for ROI for the third consecutive year, according to the 2017 Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census, a poll of over 1,200 global marketers.
Three-quarters of marketers selected email as either an “excellent” or “good” channel for revenue, with 73% of in-house and 76% of agency marketers responding that their email marketing campaigns generated successful return on investment.
Email marketers might see even greater returns, however, if they measured the success of their messages to improve future campaigns. The majority of in-house marketers track click-through rates, open rates and conversion rates, but only 37% track delivery rate and 20% list growth rate. Only 8% of in-house marketers measure inbox placement rates, although no email message can be successful if it doesn’t land in a subscriber’s inbox.
The results of the Adestra and eConsultancy study mirror a recent GetResponse report, in which nearly a quarter of email marketers responded that they did not utilize email metrics to measure campaign performance.
Email marketers are also struggling to personalize their campaigns and optimize email marketing for multiple devices. Although the number of marketers who have a full-funnel view of email campaigns has nearly doubled year-over-year, only 15% of respondents said they send emails based on individual activities throughout the funnel at scale.
Nearly half of marketers are still in the early stages of implementing personalization in email campaigns, while 14% of marketers are not yet working toward email personalization.
The biggest challenge for marketers seeking to optimize their email campaigns is a lack of resources, according to the report. A lack of budget and/or staff was highlighted by more than a quarter of respondents as a significant challenge, followed by a lack of time and technology limitations.
Email only accounts for 15% of the total marketing budget, according to Adestra and eConsulancy, although it still generates the highest return on investment.
"Email continues to be one of the most effective marketing channels and it's encouraging to see that marketers are looking beyond standalone campaigns by embracing marketing automation and personalization,” states Monica Savut, head of research services at Econsultancy. “However, this year's Census shows that marketers need to adopt a more rigorous approach, keeping a sharp focus on both technology and strategy while never losing sight of the customer. The rewards are there for the taking, but reaping maximum value is dependent on two key success factors: investment that is proportional to any potential returns and a comprehensive strategy that focuses on continuous measurement, testing and optimisation."
The study also highlights a cause for concern ahead of the upcoming GDPR legislation in Europe -- only a third of marketers responded that their campaigns comply with local data regulation. Sixteen percent of company respondents and 23% of agency marketers expressed that they were not aware of legal changes that might affect their marketing, even though GDPR will be enforceable in less than a year.