Crotchety Email Issues: Results Are Up, But Budgets Are Down

Email is in “rude health,” and most email marketers are at least somewhat prepared for the General Data Protection Regulation, according to a study by the UK DMA, sponsored by Dotmailer.

Open, click-through and conversion rates rose in 2017, as did ROI. But it’s not all good news. 

Email spending now stands at only 10.9% of the average marketing budget, compared with 12.3% in 2016. And there is a disconnect between marketers and consumers.

Only 15% of brands provide email content related to loyalty programs. But 30% of consumers are interested in receiving such content.

What’s more, few marketers take surveys when people unsubscribe or refer them to preference centers, despite the fact that certain percentages expect those options. This is a missed opportunity.

Overall, the results are a mixed bag, and do not seem different from findings in the U.S. A recent study by Adestra found that only 31% of marketers feel email is the “most effective” part of their digital marketing plan, but that it is the easiest channel to work in.  



A deep dive into the UK results shows that email generates positive results despite serious challenges.

Of the companies polled, 86% say email is important, and 222 say it is very important. But that percentage has fallen from 95% in 2016.

Emailers are plagued by limits to internal resources (39%), limited budget (24%), inefficient internal processes (23%), lack of data (23%) and lack of strategy (23%). However, the only hurdle to see an increase year-over-year is inefficient internal processes 

Despite those hurdles, large percentages have seen significant increases in open rates (51%), click-through rates (52%) and conversion rates (49%). 

What’s more, email is delivering a higher return on investment —  £32.28 for every £1 spent, up from £30.03 in 2016. And 56% feel they are able to measure ROI.   

Contrary to some reports, 96% of the respondents are aware of GDPR, and 72% feel they are at least somewhat prepared. As for GDPR’s impact on email, 36% feel positive about it, and 43% feel negative.

However, senior executives are more likely than junior execs to have a positive outlook about it. Those who are worried about GDPR cite consent and the prospect that the regulation will result in smaller databases.

Testing seems to be a forgotten art for some. Almost 20% say they lack competence in it, and 15% do no testing at all, compared with 8% in 2016. 

What’s more, 47% test less than a quarter of their emails -- a 7% increase over 2016. On the other hand, 19% test 75% of their emails, an increase of 3%.    

Of the companies polled, 84% are able to segment their email audience. There is a direct correlation between that ability and competence in testing.

Meanwhile, 45% feel email works best with their web sites, although that total has fallen from the prior year. Direct mail, at 36%, is second. 

What’s an email address worth? Around £28.56. But only 23% are able to figure that out.  

The DMA surveyed 269 respondents last November and December. 

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