Email marketing is working well for most brands that use it -- but not for all.
While 79% say email is more effective than it was -- 15% by significant margins -- 21% feel it is worsening to some extent, according to Strategies, Tactics and Trends For Email Marketing, a study by Ascend2 and its Participating Research Partners.
At the same time, 73% say their email budgets are growing, and 12% say they are growing significantly. But 27% are reducing them. And 61% report only moderate budget increases.
Ascend2 surveyed 272 marketing influencers. Of those, half work at firms with 50 or more employees, and a fourth work at companies with 500 or more.
Personalized messaging is the leading email tactic, seen as effective by 62%. But it’s also viewed as the most difficult to achieve by 47%.
What makes it an obstacle? “The difficulty of personalization has grown significantly as hyper-personalization, involving artificial intelligent, has become more prevalent,” the study continues.
However, brands seem to have mastered personalization — in a slightly contradictory finding, only 19% say improving it is a primary objective.
Among the tactics, 57% cite single-topic/dedicated email as effective and 35% cite multiple topic/e-newsletters. But 39% say the latter tactic is difficult.
Also hailed as productive are 29% milestone/birthday emails, automated/lead nurturing (28%), transactional/ecommerce (27%) and plain-text email (17%).
“Types of email that are far more effective than difficult to use (for example, single topic/dedicated email), are more likely to be included in an email marketing strategy than types that are much more difficult than effective (for example, automated/lead nurturing,” the study observes.
Why do brands pursue email marketing? For 67%, a prime objective is to increase engagement. But that’s also seen as one of the most difficult hurdles, by 50%.
“Engagement is now a frequent topic of conversation as companies strive to increase waning email open and click rates,” the study notes.
In addition, 59% want to improve brand awareness, which is seen as daunting by only 28%.
At the same time, 47% hope to increase lead generation, yet 42% find it to be a major challenge. Increasing conversions — a priority for 39% — is deemed as not easy by 40%.
Also ranked as hard to achieve — by 38% — is improving list data quality. However, only 16% list that as a key strategy.
Overall, 66% describe themselves as somewhat successful at email marketing, and 21% see themselves as very best-in-class. In contrast, only 13% deem themselves unsuccessful.
Of those polled, 49% use a combination of outsourced and in-house resources. Another 39% use in-house resources only, and 12% rely totally on outsourcing.