You Can't Keep A Good Emailer Down: Firms Are Sending More, Despite Resource Issues

Commercial emails are flooding inboxes this year, with 60% of all marketing executives saying their firms have upped their volume, according to the Fall 2020 State of Email Report, a study by Litmus.

But they are beset with challenges, including the fact that only 26% have the resources they need, and 40% apparently have much less.

Of the firms represented, 56% have two or less full-time email marketers on staff. And only 12% expect to add email staff, roughly half the percentage in 2019. 

At the same time, fewer than 25% can measure the ROI of email well or very well. And 45% say their measurement is poor or nonexistent. 

Then there’s the COVID-19 pandemic — while 11% have seen email budget increases during the pandemic, 40% have had cuts.

Yet 78% say email is important to company success — up from 71% in 2019, while 74% say it is vital. In addition, 94% say email is one of their three most effective marketing channels, and 77% place it in the top two. 



And while 66% lack the resources to conduct personalized campaigns, 60% are putting a priority on ramping up personalization.

Despite these drawbacks, brands are making progress in certain areas of personalization. 

At present, 72% follow the basics, personalizing name and company name. But progress has been made in these areas:

  • Customer status has increased from 44% to 48%.
  • Past interactions with product service are up from 27% to 40%
  • Past interactions with emails are up from 32% to 39% 
  • Past purchases are up from 31% to 38% 
  • Expressed preference via preference center, profile, account, etc. are up from 25% to 32%
  • Past interactions with websites are up from 26% to 30% 

The only form of personalization that has declined YoY is geolocation, from 36% to 31% 

Progress has also been made in several elements in A/B testing, although not in all elements: 

  • Subject line — 91%, up from 79%
  • Calls-to-action — 51%, up from 45% 
  • Send time or send day — 40%, up from 33%
  • Previewed text or preheader text—35%, up from 29% 
  • Images — 34%, down from 36%
  • Heads, subheads, and other body copy — 31%, flat with last year
  • Sender name — 19%, up from 17% 
  • Number of content blocks in email — 12%, down from 15%
  • Navigation bar — 3%, flat with last year

Meanwhile, content has changed during the pandemic, with 53% focusing on thought leadership instead of products, and 46% emphasizing corporate social responsibility.

Even with improvements, brands have yet to achieve capabilities in two much-hyped areas: 

  • Half rarely, if ever, conduct triggered win-back or re-engagement campaigns to inactive customers, subscribers or donors.
  • Half have no plans to deploy interactive email any time soon.

Work flow issues may be getting in the way at many firms — 30% say the approval process is too burdensome, and 50% believe they need to improve it.

If anything, there are more departments involved in review and approval than there were last year. The executive team now takes part at 34% of firms (up from 26%), while sales are involved in 25% (up from 16%), legal and compliance in 23% (up from 16% and merchandising in 16% (up from 5%). 

But marketing involvement has slipped slightly from 90% to 87%, and IT participation from 8% to 4%.

Litmus surveyed over 2,000 marketers.




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