Email marketing gets Covid fillip but data fears grow

email_marketing1The Covid pandemic has fuelled a major rise in email marketing, with brands seemingly diverting spend from other disciplines during the past 12 months and with it witnessing an impressive return on investment of more than 38:1.

According to the latest Marketer Email Tracker 2021 report, created by the DMA in partnership with Validity, the average proportion of marketing budgets spent on email has passed the 20% mark for the first time (21.3%).

Just under half of businesses now spend over 20% of their marketing budget on email (45%), the highest proportion on record since the DMA started the annual email tracking series in 2015.

This year, marketers estimate email’s ROI to be £38.33 for every £1 spent – a figure that has risen steadily from £29.64 in 2016 – thanks largely to the fact that email is one of the cheapest ways to promote your brand.

Email is also the most used channel by brands to engage with consumers across the customer journey (72% of marketers stated this), followed by social media (66%) and online ads (59%).

However, the focus on sales as an objective for email marketing fell from 31% a year ago to just 24% this year, with those primarily using email campaigns for customer service rising from 9% to 13% year-on-year.

The challenges marketers face have seen notable shifts too. Concerns around the lack of data, access to it, or its quality (stated by 52%) have significantly increased year-on-year (up 10% from 2020’s report). The percentage of marketers citing issues around marketing technology also rose to 38% this year, up 14% from last year’s figure.

DMA Email Council deputy chair Guy Hanson, who is also vice-president of customer engagement at Validity International said that while the rise in budgets is welcome news, it is concerning that marketers are struggling more than ever with data and technology challenges.

He added: “High quality data – that is accurate, up to date, and aligned with the purpose for which it was collected – means companies can create relevant messaging that builds stronger relationships and delivers increased value. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to not neglect investment in this precious resource, as well as the talent and technology that utilise it.”

DMA head of insight Tim Bond commented: “The various restrictions in place throughout the year appear to have benefitted email, not least that budgets appear to have been directed (or re-directed) to email while other channels were not available.

“Despite pandemic conditions, most marketers report positive trends for various key email performance metrics too.

“Overall, the latest figures continue to paint a positive picture for email, proving its value to businesses during a year where virtual communication has been essential for brand survival. It remains the most relied upon channel for nearly two-thirds of brands across the customer journey, while delivering a return on investment that has continued to increase.”

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