Email Reigns For SMBs, But They Have Much To Learn, Study Finds

Email budgets are on the rise this year for small businesses, according to Email Marketing And Marketing Automation Excellence 2018, a study by GetResponse, conducted by SmartInsights. But SMBs are lagging when it comes to automation.

Of 585 respondents, 47% expect their email allocation to increase in 2018. And 41% forecast the same for social media. In comparison, 37% forecast a bigger spend for content marketing, and 33% for search engine optimization.

There is good reason for email’s dominance: Almost half of respondents are satisfied with its ROI, with 18% rating it as excellent and 29% as good. 

Another 24% feel it is average, and 7% call it poor. Only 18% don’t use the channel.

At the same time, 14% of respondents rank their social media ROI as excellent, and 25% as good. Direct mail scores lowest on all counts, with 6% describing it as excellent and 16% as good. Almost half of respondents say they don’t use it.

Their metrics remain rudimentary: 63% track opens and clicks, and 28% look at leads generated from form-fills, registrations and other mid-funnel outcomes. But 28% also say they don’t currently focus on any metrics. 



Why this lack of sophistication?

“It could be a lack of skills or resources, or they’re simply too time-pressed to drill down into the data,” the study states. “Whatever the reason,this means their emails aren’t based on real insights, making it difficult to track changes in open rates, leads, sales, or revenue from email.”

There is a similar lack of sophistication in targeting. Of those polled, 53% send the same message to everyone.

In addition, only 31% conduct basic segmentation, and even fewer — 13% — use segmentation and rules-based personalization. A mere 4% pursue layered personalized targeting, employing such criteria as demographics, behavioral segments and lifestyle position.

Some firms are also missing out when it comes to frequency. Asked how often they email customers, 32% say two to three times, and 17% say they only email once.

But 19% email from four to six times — the optimal number — and 16% do more than that.

Here’s more bad news: 60% don’t proactively test their email marketing. Some do test, however — 20% compare layouts, creative and copy and 16% try alternate subject lines. However, a paltry 11% test frequency. And 3% rely on machine learning for testing.

The study also shows that marketers are not adopting automation quickly enough: 28% use few automation features, and 19% have no automation capabilities at all. Only 8% use all automation features, and 13% use most of them.

Who knows about email and marketing automation? Too few. Only 5% call themselves experts, and 29% as advanced. In contrast, 26% are only beginners and 29% are at the basic stages. Another 28% are intermediate.

The reason for the lack of expertise? They may not know any better. Only 5% call themselves experts, and 29% as advanced. In contrast, 26% are only beginners and 29% are at the basic stages. Another 28% are intermediate.

“Small businesses tell us they see the value of marketing automation’s time-saving abilities but they’re not maximizing it to grow their business, and that has to change,” states, Mike Morris, head of GetResponse U.S.


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