CMO Learning Curve: They're Not Up To Speed On Transactional Email

No wonder chief marketing officers have such stressful lives. Over three-fourths of all brands are failing to realize the full revenue potential of their existing customers, and little more than a tenth are succeeding at it, according to Gaining Traction With Every Digital interaction, a paper by the CMO Council and Sendwithus.

In addition, their priorities are slightly off base. Few are leveraging their opt-in communications across touchpoints, And this limits their use of transactional emails, among other things.  

Of the executives polled, for example, 36% believe transactional emails are an opportunity to reinforce relationships. But 30% deploy them only to affirm choices, not to further relationships. And 12% are struggling to align the teams that work on them.

What’s more, 47% feel they are doing an “okay” job at best in their digital communications.

The CMO Council and Sendwithus surveyed 179 senior marketing executives. Of this sample, 21% are CMOs, the remainder have senior marketing titles, and 43% work for firms with revenue of over $500 million per year.



On the positive side, 94% of the respondents feel that individual digital communications will help them reach their customer experience goals. Again, however, 77% are not drawing the full possible revenue from their customers, while 13% are and 10% don’t know.

Their strategies for revenue growth? Among those surveyed, 64% hope to deliver more personal and relevant communications across all touchpoints. And the same percentage are seeking new ways to upsell and cross-sell.   

Still, only 41% are continuously testing and improving individual communications. A paltry 26% are seeking to better leverage opt-in, requested communications from customers. And 22% want to improve reactivation of dormant accounts. 

One hurdle is team collaboration. The study found that 29% hold meetings to align strategies and timelines, and that 26% of the teams are led by leaders who collect input and feedback on campaigns. For 18%, collaboration is ad hoc, not formalized.

Here’s another happy note: Only 3% operate in silos, with no connection between product, communications and marketing teams. Yet 22% of their transactional emails are “developed outside of marketing with little opportunity to collaborate,” the study notes.

Let’s say companies have worked through some of these issues and are sending targeted emails. How do they segment? 

For 63%, propensity to purchase is a main factor. Next is behavioral data (61%), followed by geographic (54%) and transactional data (51%). Only 44% utilize that old direct marketing standby: demographic data 

All that said, here’s the key question: What are they think will make the biggest actual impact on the business? Here are the numbers:

  • Optimize customer retention and loyalty — 66%
  • Boost upsell and cross-sell engagements and revenue — 56%
  • Improve operational efficiencies — 34%
  • Implement controls across touchpoints to ensure consistency of experience — 32%
  • Better the points of engagement execution to bottom-line improvements — 28%
  • Reassess technologies to develop a best-of-breed marketing stack — 25%
  • Take a hard look at budgeting to right-size investments into high-impact engagements — 22%
  • Streamline operations across creative iterations and content — 17%
  • Eliminate some engagements that are not valued or requested by the customer — 15%
  • Scale back specific marketing/brand campaigns to focus on transactional communications — 9%
  • Other — 4%
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