End-Of-Year Checkup: No Big Growth In Email Effectiveness

Email marketers operated on an even keel in 2019. But they didn’t do much better, judging by The State of Email Marketing 2019, a study by Demand Metric in partnership with Validity. 

Overall, 28% saw an increase in email effectiveness, but that’s down from 36% in 2018. Another 43% say they are holding steady, up from 37% last year. However, these findings do not apply equally to all companies.

For instances, firms doing the best with email have more objectives for its use, the study notes. 

And B2B companies tend to see “the lowest percentage of their bulk email sends opened,” the study notes. 

But almost half of all respondents report open rates of 15% or less. And that’s flat --fewer brands saw open rates of 5% or less, and fewer more than 21%. 

Meanwhile, 15% enjoyed a significant revenue increase from their email marketing. And 53% saw a slight boost.

Another 19% report flat or no growth, 8% suffered a slight decline and 5% had a big falloff.



Competition for the inbox is their top challenge, although the percentage of those saying so has fallen from 54% to 45%. But those concerned about deliverability has risen from 25% last year to 37%.

Companies deal with the latter problem by changing ESPs or IPs. This year, 60% have switched ESPs and 13% have jumped from both their ESPs and IPs. 

However, poor deliverability ranks only fourth among the reasons for switching, cited by 24% (down from 40% last year).

The biggest reason remains technical limitations, although this was cited by only 32% compared with 50% last year. Third is cost, listed by 26%.

But firms that changed ESPs or IPs suffered “noticeably lower average email open rates,” the study states.

Other email marketing hurdles include staffing/resource constraints (40%), lack of tools to optimize or personalize email (31%), poor email performance (24%), poorly defined metrics (23%), limitation of email service provider (23%), low visibility into email performance (22%) and lack of executive buy-in (13%).

Meanwhile, 72% of those surveyed are employing email personalization.

Next on the list of tactics are email list management (63%), subject line optimization (52%), email deliverability optimization (51%), A/B testing (50%) and reactivation campaigns (36%). Almost all these tactics are used by firms with higher open rates.

On the downside, one third lack a formal subject-line optimization process.

Why do companies bother with email in an age of profile ring channels? The big email objectives are to:

  • Communicate with customers — 74% 
  • Build brand awareness — 64%
  • Communicate with prospects — 63%
  • Generate revenue — 56%

B2C brands are most inclined than B2 to seek communication with customers — 78% list this goal, versus 74% of B2B and 71% of mixed B2B-B2C companies.

B2C firms are also more likely than B2B to use outside help — 75% of B2B firms rely totally on in-house resources, compared with 49% of B2C. And 50% of B2C use both in-house and outside resources, versus 24% of B2B.

Demand Metric surveyed 293 marketers, 40% of whom work for mixed B2B/B2C companies, 30% at mostly B2B brands, 22% at mostly B2C companies and 8% at nonprofits.



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