How Email Fits In The Digital Marketing Mix

Email is one of the most easy-to-use tools in the marketing arsenal. Only 10% rate it among the toughest, according to a study released earlier this month by Ascend2 and Research Partners. '

But that doesn’t mean they expect much from it. A mere 13% see email as one of the most effective tactics in their 2018 digital marketing plan. In contract, 18% say that about social media.

This is occurring as digital marketers are in a bullish mood in general. Of 271 individuals polled, 93% expect their firms to increase their budgets in 2018, 41% significantly so. What’s more, 94% report that they are more effective at digital, 48% greatly and 46% marginally.

How does one account for the seeming split between email ease and effectiveness? 

“Why it is the least difficult is that most companies have the technology in place to perform email programs,” says Todd W. Lebo, partner/chief marketing officer, Ascend2.

“They have an ESP or Marketing Automation platform, and since email is a mature marketing tactic, most know how to create and send email campaigns.”



The result, Lebo adds, is that “doing email is not difficult and it can be done by internal resources (an important point).”

Lebo continues that email is slowly losing effectiveness because of a few factors:

  • Overuse: more companies are using email, resulting in more emails in the inbox and less effectiveness.
  • Privacy laws and SPAM boxes: privacy laws and email technology are making it more difficult to get emails to the inbox. 
  • Fewer people use email. This is especially true for younger demographics.
  • There are more ways to engage with people (social media, search, web sites, etc.)
  • It's more challenging to build an email list.

Of course, data management has also been around for a long time. It is still rated as the most difficult chore by 18%. Worse, only 9% expect to be effective in 2018.

Marketing technology is also described as challenging by 18%, and effective by 16%. 

In contrast, 11% rate social media as most difficult, and 18% predict it will be effective next year. These may seem like minor differences, but not when every percentage point could hurt your ROI.

Indeed, digital marketers face many general challenges, including data quality, rated as the most critical by 16%, and lead generation and user experience, cited by 15% apiece.

Drilling down, 14% specify web traffic, 13% brand awareness and sales avenue 12%.

Their overall objectives are ranked in a slightly different way.

Lead generation and sales revenue are tied for first, listed by 18% apiece, followed by brand awareness (17%), user experience (14%), website traffic (14%) and data quality (11%).

How to companies pursue digital marketing? Of the firms polled, 63% rely on a combination of outsourced and in-house resources, and 30% to an outsourced specialist only. And 7% rely totally on in-house resources.

Lebo concludes that “Email still works but it is not as effective as in the past and other marketing tactics are improving. It’s important that marketers analyze their data, keep up-to-date on industry trends, test new marketing tactics, and be willing to change. Things are changing quickly.

Here are the most effective tactics:

  • Social media marketing—18%
  • Content marketing—17%
  • Marketing technology—16%
  • Search engine optimization–15% 
  • Email marketing—13%
  • Search and social adds—11 
  • Data management—9% 

These are most difficult tactics to execute:

  • Data management—18%
  • Marketing technology—18 
  • Content marketing—16% 
  • Search engine optimization—16%
  • Social media marketing—11 
  • Email marketing—10%
  • Search an socials—9%
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