Top Dogs: Most Emailers Think They're Beating Their Competitors

Do you know what your competitors are doing in email? For that matter, do you know what you’re doing? Most marketers do — and they believe they’re kicking their competitors’ butts, according to “Email Strategies for Success,” a new study from Adestra Inc., a global email service provider.

Of 85 marketers polled, 36% feel they’re very successful at besting their rivals in email, and 47% feel they are somewhat successful.

Only 15% say they’re only somewhat unsuccessful — meaning below average — and 2% rate themselves as the worst in class. 

Well, we’re not here to shame anyone. The question is: How do they know whether it is good or bad? Are they merely reading emails from their rivals?

Adestra advises marketers to track their competition, but not to assume that their emails actually work. They have to dig deeper — first, by subscribing to their email program in at least two email addresses.



They should use one of the accounts to order merchandise or services and test the full gamut of their customer experience. Also, fill out their preference forms, and share your interests, income level, number of children and other personal information. See how they handle you.

Why do this survey now? “We wanted to talk to marketers about their challenges are, and what they’re focused on,” says Ryan Phelan,VP of marketing insights at Adestra, and author of the study.

“It’s always a good option for people to check in and make sure they’re impressed with going on in the marketplace.”  Phelan adds: “The big takeaway is everybody’s still struggling with the basics. Some are making some advanced steps. All are doing something.”

This group seems pretty satisfied with what they’re doing. 

In general, 77% say effectiveness is increasing significantly, and 21% that it is marginally growing. A mere 1% feel it is decreasing marginally, and 1% (the worst in class) say it is significantly declining. 

Improving their personalization is the first goal for almost two-thirds of these respondents, while reducing marketing costs is the last. Here’s the list of objectives:

  • Improving email personalization — 64%
  • Enriching contact data quality — 44%
  • Improving customer retention — 42%
  • Increasing engagement rate — 38%
  • Increasing customer acquisition — 34 
  • Increasing brand awareness — 34%
  • Reducing marketing costs — 14%

Granted, people may check off these boxes without even remembering what they wrote earlier. But it’s clear: personalization is the main imperative. But what are the most effective tactics? Here they are:

  • Individualized email messaging — 45%
  • Social media integration — 41% 
  • Behavior-triggered emails — 41% 
  • Self-managed preference center — 40%
  • Responsive email design — 40% 
  • Email list segmentation — 38% 
  • Individualized landing pages — 33%

Now, check out their main obstacles to success:

  • Improving email personalization — 43%
  • Enriching data quality — 51%
  • Improving customer retention — 24% 
  • Increasing engagement rate — 39% 
  • Increasing customer acquisition — 35%
  • Increasing brand awareness — 29%
  • Reducing marketing costs — 40% 

A daunting list, but none of it is easy. Here are the most difficult personalization tactics: 

  • Self-managed preference center — 43% 
  • Social media integration — 39%
  • Individual landing pages — 39% 
  • Individualized email messaging — 39%
  • Email list segmentation — 37%
  • Responsive email design — 35%
  • Behavior-triggered emails — 30%

Most companies outsource their email functions — 64% assign them to outside specialists, 26% use a combination of in-house and outside resources and 10% use internal resources only. 

Most firms—even B2C—have long sales cycles. Specifically, 61% have complex sales processes — long cycles, with many influencers. And 15% have combined complex sale and direct cycles. Twenty-four percent pursue direct sales only. 

Adestra observes that it’s puzzling that data quality is not the top goal — with the lowest barrier.

In general, the most effective tactics: 

  • Individualized email messaging — 45% 
  • Social media integration — 41%
  • Behavior-triggered emails — 41%
  • Self-managed preference center — 40%
  • Responsive email design — 40% 
  • Email list segmentation — 38%
  • Individualized landing pages — 38%

Now, the most difficult tactics to execute:

  • Self-managed preference center — 43%
  • Individualized email messaging — 39 
  • Social media integration — 39%
  • Individualized landing pages — 39%
  • Email list segmentation — 37%
  • Responsive email design — 35%

Behavior-triggered emails — 30% 

Summing up, Phelan advises marketers not to listen to pundits they have never heard of.

“I’ve seen some of the goofiest stuff you’ve ever imagined — like one guy said you should be sending emails in all text. I look at that, and I cringe because it’s the wrong advice.”

"If you’re doing something, you’re smarter than the 75% that are doing nothing," Phelan adds. “The minute you take a step forward, you’re more advanced than someone just pushing a button.” 

So it's obvious that something is better than nothing.


2 comments about "Top Dogs: Most Emailers Think They're Beating Their Competitors".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 12, 2017 at 7:36 p.m.

    Do NOT put my name on emails unless you know me. It's creepy and disingenuious and phony. 

  2. Jordie van Rijn from EmailMonday, September 21, 2017 at 12:39 p.m.

    So sorry to be the one to tell you Ray, but your logic is flawed.

    More than half CAN be successful in beating their competition. Say we have a market of widgets. With one big player: MegaWidget and 99 smaller ones. Everybody sees MegaWidget as their Main competitor, and they all might still be doing better.

    In that case, 99% of the marketers are doing better than their competitor. 

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