Email Hassles: The Main Problems Facing Brands

Email is a popular medium. But only 8% of marketers say their email effectiveness has greatly improved in the last year, according to Email Marketing 2021 Benchmark report, a study by Validity and Demand Metric. 

Here are the issues getting in their way: 

  • Competition for attention in the inbox — 42% 
  • Poor email engagement — 35%
  • Staffing/resource constraints — 33%
  • Email deliverability — 30%
  • Lack of data but don’t know how to use it effectively — 25%
  • Low visibility into email performance — 25% 
  • Poorly defined metrics — 24%
  • Lack of tools to optimize or personalize email — 22%
  • Limitations of email service provider — 16% 
  • Lack of executive buy-in —11% 

Fortunately, most of these have gone down from 2019, except for low visibility into email performance (25%, up from 22%) and poorly defined metrics (24% versus 23%). 



Even better, 7% of the respondents say: “We are not experiencing any challenges.” 

Two challenges — “poor email engagement” and “lots of data but don’t know how to use it effectively” — were added to this year’s survey. 

And 30% say their email effectiveness is improving slightly, while 39% say it is holding steady. Only 14% acknowledge that it is declining slightly.  

The top objective of email in 2020 was to communicate with customers, although that percentage declined slightly from 2019. But building brand awareness grew as a goal among both B2B and B2B/B2C companies, as did revenue generation. 

Inbox deliverability stands at 90% or above for 19% of the respondents. But 67% say it is 89% or less, and 14% don’t know. 

Meanwhile, 26% have adopted DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance), 29% haven’t and 45% don’t know. 

And what about BIM (Brand Indicators for Message Identification)? Only 21% are trying it (not bad, really), while 38% are not and 41% don’t know. 

Companies with 90% placement rates are more likely to conduct email personalization -- 82% say they are, versus 70% of firms with lower rates -- and they are 10% more likely to perform list management and 4% more prone to conduct email reactivations campaigns — with 35% who say they do. 

In addition, 25% of the brands in the 90% inbox delivery category conduct subject-line optimization, compared to 17% of everyone else. 

Meanwhile, open rates declined for many companies — those reporting opens of 5% or less -- have jumped by 75% since Validity’s last survey.  

But Validity has discerned “a strong correlation between open and click rates.” That is, marketers who achieve open rates of 16%or more are more likely to garner higher click rates. 

Again, firms that pull open rates of 16% or more are way ore likely to pursue email list management (62%, versus 54%), subject-line optimization (48%, versus 46%), artificial intelligence (16% versus 11%), reactivation campaigns (33% versus 23%), multi-variate testing (14% versus 10%). 

The only area in which these leaders lag is A/B testing — 42% do this, compared to 44% of those who get lower response rates. 

Validity and Demand Metric surveyed 450 marketers. 

1 comment about "Email Hassles: The Main Problems Facing Brands".
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  1. PJ Lehrer from NYU, February 16, 2021 at 9:13 a.m.

    It would have been interesting if they had also surveyed consumers.  I suspect their feedback would be very different.

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