Telltale Email: Channel Ranks Fourth As A Data Source, First As An Identifier

Remember the old story about the father who received a marketing email offering products for his pregnant daughter — thus outing her?

That story is a myth, but it serves as a cautionary tale for email marketers trying to effectively manage their data, according to 2018 Data Driven Marketing Benchmarks for Success, a new study by Adestra and Ascend2. 

Marketers need to respect their clients, and they have to maintain data quality and security. But few firms “have enough qualified internal resources to manage initiatives,” Adestra states — only 5% rely totally on in-house teams.

First some positive news: Most respondents feel they are doing a good job with data.   

Among the executives in the research panel — namely, marketing influencers and research subscribers active in the email channel — 93% say they’re successful with data-driven marketing, 55% very much so.

What’s more, 86% strongly agree that an effective data-driven strategy is critical to success.



Email ranks as the fourth-most effective channel for collecting marketing data, cited by 40%. It is rated below social media (57/%), website/e-commerce (53%) and mobile apps (44%).

However, email beats organic search (35%), paid search (25%) and display ads/remarketing (24%).  

Adestra notes that the email address is “the most valuable piece of data in your inventory because it allows you to identify each customer individually and across channels.”

The value exchange for website visitors is often discounts for email addresses. Given that, Adestra is surprised that websites are not ranked higher as a data source.

Overall, 77% of the marketers feel channels are increasingly effective as data sources, and 22% say they are improving marginally.

Marketers want data-driven marketing to help them achieve these objectives:

  • Integrating data across platforms — 48%
  • Basing more decisions on data analysis — 48%
  • Enriching data quality and completeness — 43%
  • Acquiring more new customers — 42%
  • Aligning marketing and sales teams — 37%
  • Segmenting target markets — 33%

But some of these tasks aren’t easy, judging by the list of challenges:

  • Enriching data quality and completeness — 49%
  • Integrating data across platforms— 49% 
  • Basing more decisions on data analysis — 41%
  • Acquiring more new customers — 38%
  • Aligning marketing and sales teams — 34%
  • Attributing sales revenue to marketing — 33% 
  • Segmenting target markets —3 2%

No wonder that 75% say it’s complicated to implement a data marketing strategy, with 41% saying it’s “extremely” complex. The remainder say it’s not complicated.

Of those polled, 43% outsource implementation to a specialist, and 52% combine outside and in-house resources. 

There’s one thing everyone agrees on — that you can’t succeed without having a sound data-driven marketing strategy. 

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