Marketers are pulling better email ROI even as their email effectiveness declines. Sound crazy? That’s one of the findings of the 2017 Email Marketing Industry Census Key Sector Report, a global study by Adestra and Econsultancy.
Of the 1,200 companies polled, 73% say they are getting good to excellent ROI. Only 52% say that about their email effectiveness. Granted, some are doing better than others.
Print/publishing and charities//government/nonprofits are tied for first in return on investment, with 76% in both groups saying their ROI is good or excellent. However, that percentage has fallen from 80% for print/publishing, and 77% in 2016. And the print category has declined in effectiveness.
But go figure: Retail — ranked third in ROI (with 74% claiming good or better results) — is last in effectiveness (47%).
“According to our survey results, there’s a continuing theme this year where sectors that may have previously led the way in email strategy, such as retail, have fallen behind, says Melanie White, head of content and communications for Adestra. "And those that used to be considered a lower-performing sector — i.e. financial services — are catching up.”
Why is this happening?
“We believe that this is due to email being a mature channel and although investment into more sophisticated technology and procedures might be happening, learning how to use data to optimize efficiently takes some time,” White says.
She adds, however, that sectors still playing catch-up — like financial services — are “reaping the benefits from simply adopting basic email techniques that they otherwise might not have utilized.”
White continues: "As email continues to mature and companies become wiser to the incredible ROI that the channel can bring, I think we will see some interesting movement from all sectors."
Overall, companies are pulling 22% of their total sales from email, and devoting 15% of their marketing budgets to the channel, with print/publishing scoring at the top on both questions and travel & hospitality at the bottom.
However, email budgets remained flat from 2016 to 2017. Why? "This could be explained by the fact that most marketers seem to be ignoring essential metrics when it comes to evaluating their success (see next section), which means they would have a harder time proving its impact," the study notes.
Meanwhile, financial services jumped from 67% to 73% in ROI excellence, year-over-year, and technology and telecoms from 66% to 67%.
Who is most effective at email tactics?
Of the travel and hospitality respondents, 63% said their campaigns were excellent or good, flat with last year. Print/publishing was second at 62,% but that percentage had fallen from 73% in 2016.
This drop may be due to the fact that the print/publishing sector — although it invests almost double of that of travel in email —has seen some backsliding in email performance, device optimization and future innovation. However, it has improved its email tactics.
This is occurring even as tactics are shifting.
“When looking at tactics, the biggest drop since last year is in the use of content personalization and lifecycle programs,” the study states. “The biggest growth is in mobile optimization and location-based marketing.”
Sharing on social media has also shown growth in every sector except for retail.