Email Grows, But Personalization Remains A Challenge: Study

Email continues to grow -- driving over 21% of the average company’s revenue compared with 17% last year, according to a study released yesterday by The Relevancy Group, working with OneSpot.

In addition, open and click-through rates rose year-to-year, and dynamic email is now seen as the best way to drive relevance. But obstacles remain, including lack of support for personalization by internal shareholders.

The result is that many firms are achieving a rudimentary level of email personalization at best.

On the positive side, “the revenue contribution has grown big time year-over-year, and people are relying on email more than in the past, “ said Nick Einstein,VP of research and principal analyst for The Relevancy Group, and co-author of the report. But few are achieving “deep personalization,” he added.

The Relevancy Group surveyed 350 marketers in industries ranging from high-tech to CPG, and found that email makes its strongest contribution --  23.9% -- to financial services companies. And the channel delivers 22.3% to media/publishing firms, 22% to consumer product marketers and 21.1% to technology companies.



At the bottom of this list are retail/ecommerce marketers, which now draw 15.9% of their revenue from email, and travel & hospitality providers, which generate 13.9% through the channel.

The survey also found that open rates rose from 25% to 27% and click-throughs from 14% to 16% year-over-year. Prior-year totals are from research by The Relevancy Group.

Explaining the uptick, Einstein said: "Marketers are getting better about sending better messages, and users are getting better about self-selecting and engaging with messages that are more relevant to them." 

In another positive finding, 60% of the respondents say that “leveraging real-time data in email -- contextual signals like location at time of open, weather, current browsing behavior, etc. -- is either 'effective' or 'highly effective,' and 58 percent report the same of machine learning to drive email personalization,” the report states.

The study also found that open and click-through rates are higher in campaigns based on deep personalization tactics.

However, marketers faced serious obstacles in adopting personalization -- and the primary one is lack of buy-in from stakeholders, cited by 44%. Another 26.3% said personalization was “not a priority in our budget.”

This is due primarily to lack of education on the subject, said Damian Borichevsky, senior vice president, customer success/business development, OneSpot,  adding that 22.3% of marketers said they do "not have high confidence that it would be better than our manual effort."

There’s confusion between the terms segmentation and personalization,” Borichevsky said. “People are personalizing their segments, but it’s really just segmenting. Real value is when we’re leveraging real behavioral data and user data to drive real relevant customer experiences.”

Einstein added: “We see a high percentage using basic personalization — based on first name and personalization based on location data.”

The most used tactic is first-name personalization, utilized by 78%. Next is personalized email content based on real-time data such as location, used by 59%.

The other tactics include: 

  • Dynamic content in email marketing — 55%
  • Human curated product personalization in email — 48%
  • Personalized email content based on software/machine learning -- 47%











1 comment about "Email Grows, But Personalization Remains A Challenge: Study".
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  1. Maurice BigMo Flynn from, June 29, 2017 at 9:12 a.m.

    Great article Ray - its not easier but its getting there. And we have no option. :) 

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