Does Email Have Legs? Two Studies Disagree On The Answer

CMOs who want to hang on to their jobs should not take the findings of  “The Responsive Requirement,” a recent CMO Council study, at face value.   

The study argues that physical touchpoints are seen as “just as important, if not slightly more important, to the success of the overall experience as channels like email, direct mail and mobile apps.”

Now that doesn’t sound so bad by itself — it uses the word “slightly.” But a headline says “Step Aside, Email.”

Are they kidding? It’s true that email does not make the top ten of critical touchpoints in this report.

The leading touchpoint is in-store promotion and advertising, including POP displays, followed by digital advertising. Social media comes in fourth, after in-store engagement with sales reps.

Further down, the Council asks respondents to list the touchpoints that are part of their omnichannel strategies.



Email comes in twelfth, with 50% citing it. And only 17% say email has the most influence on their customers’ buying decisions. In contrast, corporate websites pull scores of 80% and 28%.

In fairness, it probably is true that physical touchpoints are more important — in the retail, food and beverage and packaged goods fields that dominate the sample.

But this study also includes telecommunications executives, as well as those in media and publishing, entertainment and travel and hospitality. And they’re not exactly wowing people now with their ability to engage. 

For instance, only 16% say their firms are extremely responsive to the end consumer. And 36% say it depends on the channel.

At the same time, a paltry 12% say they’re extremely responsive to retail customers.

Uh, haven’t these folks ever heard of triggered email? Have they not heard of welcome and confirmation emails?

Here’s the problem: The CMO Council surveyed 153 senior executives. But Marketo went to an even better source — consumers themselves — for a recent report, titled "The State Of Engagement." And it found that of the 1,000 consumers polled:

  • 79% initiate engagement via email
  • 54% find email useful for learning about products and services (n this, email is second only to websites)
  • 53% use email for post-purchase feedback or support, compared with 46% who utilize websites
  • 59% expect email to be integrated (again, email is No. 1)

So email should be stepping aside?

When over 1,000 marketers were asked to list their engagement channels email again topped the list, with social media and websites also in the top three.

And for what it’s worth, email is the leading channel globally, and in the U.S., the UK, France and Germany.

Which activities have the greatest potential to engage when fueled by automation?

  • Email marketing — 54%
  • Mobile marketing — 49%
  • Integrated social media — 46%
  • Analytics and reporting — 46%
  • Website visitor ID and tracking — 46%

Of the global Marketo sample, 14% are in the retail sector — compared with 11% in the CMO Council study. Marketo also polled B2B purchasers. 

Granted, the two surveys have different methodologies and samples. You can believe whichever one you like. 

As Chico Marx once said, "Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"

But to the extent they can be compared, it’s clear that someone is out of touch. And we doubt it’s the consumers. 

Next story loading loading..