In regard to email relevance, how wide is the gap between marketers and consumers when it comes to defining what this important concept actually means? And what are the reasons for their fundamentally different perceptions?
These are questions the DMA’s Marketer Email Tracker – sponsored by Validity – is designed to answer. The report provides a definitive view of the email landscape, informed by over 200 expert senders. This year’s edition is especially relevant as it provides one of the first full snapshots of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on email senders and how they’ve responded.
There are a number of good news stories:
- Most popular marketing channel. Email remains the preferred marketing channel (72% of respondents), and this aligns strongly with consumer feedback (92%). Highly effective across all phases of the customer journey, email is particularly strong when used for post-purchase activity like receipts, order confirmations, and delivery updates.
- Not just offers and promotions. While driving sales remains an important email objective, this has declined year-on-year (YoY). There has been a strong increase in focus on “softer” outcomes like relationship building, loyalty, and engagement. These changes strongly reflect the pandemic-induced shift towards more information-based content.
- Positive trending of email KPIs. The majority of respondents noticed improved performance across a broad set of email KPIs: deliverability, open, and click rates; list size; conversions; and revenue. Meanwhile, negative metrics like opt-outs and spam complaints reduced. These trends reinforce the popularity of the channel described above.
- More revenue and greater value. Email return on investment (ROI) is now 38:1 – an 8% YoY increase – while customer lifetime value (CLV) has risen to £36.64 – up 6%. Marketers’ ability to calculate these important metrics has also improved, strongly positioning them to prove program value and secure new investments.
- Increased email budgets. All these points clearly highlight email’s effectiveness, so it’s no surprise to see marketers committing more of their budget to the channel. For the first time ever, over 20% of marketing spend is going towards email. It’s not a flash in the pan either – more than half of respondents (56%) expect continued growth over the next 12 months.
However, there are always two sides to every coin. The report also identifies critical blind spots that email marketers will need to address in order to maintain their positive trends:
- A deliverability black hole. Two-fifths of marketers (41%) believe subscribers receive their emails on a “daily or more” basis . . . but only one-fifth of consumers (18%) agree they receive emails at this frequency. The 23% gap is remarkably similar to Validity’s published inbox placement stats – 1 in every 5 emails sent is going to spam/junk!
- Activity monitoring. Despite being an established best practice, only two-thirds of email marketers (66%) track if customer email addresses are active or inactive, and only three-quarters (73%) treat these segments differently. This failure to differentiate based on activity levels will have a big impact on both deliverability and subscriber engagement.
- Mind the relevance gap. This “engagement blindness” is clearly reflected in the difference in perception surrounding email relevance. Three-fifths of marketers (59%) believe their emails are relevant/useful, but less than one-sixth of consumers (15%) feel the same. Accurate targeting is about far more than “right person, right message, right time.” Email marketers need much more data – and the right tools – to create genuine relevance.
- KPI blind spots. This also stems from how email marketers measure relevance. Click-to-open rates are the most popular KPI (49%), spam complaints (9%) far less so – even though they are equally important sides of the same engagement coin. Measuring a much broader set of engagement touch points will mean improved visibility of relevance drivers.
- Data is the biggest challenge. While more data creates more visibility, it also creates more challenges. Budget/resourcing is traditionally the biggest challenge faced by email marketers, but has reduced by almost 10% over the past year. It’s been superseded by data and technology, which have increased sharply (10% and 14% respectively).
Addressing these challenges is everything we had in mind when we built our Everest email intelligence platform. As the pioneers of email optimisation and deliverability, Validity’s vision was to provide email marketers with full measurement of all stages of their email programs. Everest provides true 360-degree performance visibility, eliminating all the blind spots we’ve described above.
If you’d like to continue the Marketer Email Tracker discussion, we’d love to have you join our webinar – Train Your Email Brain! – on 17th June with the DMA’s Tim Bond and Trainline’s Alex Fadahunsi. In the meantime, contact us here to talk with Validity about how to move the needle on your email program’s performance.