Email growth outpaces SEO, content and paid search

Email soars but team focus crucialA decade of email marketing data shows the email channel is still the fastest growing of any other channel in the marketing mix – ahead of the likes of SEO, content marketing, and paid search – with email’s ROI rising from 66% to 73% since 2008.
However, marketers will have to invest more if the channel is going to maintain its momentum, according to the Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census 2016, which probed over 1,100 digital marketing experts.
The census shows how digital marketing has matured over the years, relying on email marketing as a central focus with true measurable results, rather than a passing trend. In contrast, the allure of channels such as social media have started to fade, evidenced by being the only decrease in focus by both client-side and agency respondents.
Adestra chief executive Henry Hyder-Smith said: “It’s not just email marketing technology that has evolved in the past ten years, but also the mindset of marketers. The past decade has shown an increased integration between the technologies and channels used, shifting away from broadcasting singular messages across all possible channels to carrying out better segmentation and increasingly sophisticated personalisation. We’ve also seen a move towards focusing on business benefits and customer-driven marketing.”
However, it is not all sweetness and light. There is still a frustrating disconnect with the proportion of spend marketers afford to email, the study shows.
The census shows that companies investing at least a fifth of their marketing budgets on email are eight times more likely to see sales attributable to it in excess of 50%.
In addition, the past decade has seen the cost of acquisition and customer retention going down and loyalty going up as marketers have shifted from a batch-and-blast approach to a more segmented, one-to-one approach, investing in customer relationships. As this shift continues, it remains to be seen if this brings with it the necessary shift in proportional spend.
There are also significant challenges ahead, with more work required for businesses to achieve success in implementing automated email programmes.
Just 7% of companies deem the implementation of their automated email marketing programmes as ‘very successful’, unchanged from 2015. Looking at the triggers that companies are using, fewer than a quarter of client-side respondents are sending automated emails based on abandoned baskets, date notifications and timed content programmes through sales cycle.
Underlining consumers’ predisposition towards more personalised messaging, the findings point to a direct link between personalisation and email ROI.
Companies claiming to be proficient in personalisation are more than twice as likely to rate the performance of their email campaigns as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ compared to those not personalising. However, 79% of companies are still employing what they consider to be a ‘basic’ approach to email segmentation.
In addition, the impact of digital agencies’ expertise in email marketing is significant – they achieve a significantly higher ROI than their in-house counterparts, not to mention taking advantage of more automated triggers, and using more email-related services provided by email providers.
Looking to the future, particularly with expected data regulations coming from the EU, the report suggests that marketers will need to pay closer attention to their data management and acquisition practices. Currently, the report reveals that 53% of companies are yet to become compliant, so expect a more forensic approach to data being taken by marketers in the coming year.
The full Email Marketing Industry Census is available for download here> 

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