Two-thirds of marketers (66%) state that email delivers an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ ROI, with 8% of businesses achieving more than half of their sales through this channel.

The findings come from the new Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census 2013, which shows that despite the ever-increasing toolkits and techniques available to marketers, email still holds its place as a channel that offers a strong ROI.

The 2013 version of this report covers new and changing trends within this key marketing channel, and its integration with other areas of marketing and key business functions.

But in spite of the strong potential for delivering a great return in investment, companies are spending too little time on optimisation of campaigns compared to design and content.

How do you rate the following channels in terms of return on investment?

  • Only 39% of in-house marketers rate the performance of their company’s campaigns as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, while 15% admit their campaigns are ‘poor’.
  • More than a quarter (27%) state that they spend no time at all internally on optimising their email campaigns, a figure that has increased from 21% in 2008.
  • And even those that do optimise aren’t spending a significant amount of time on it. Just 19% of responding companies spend more than two hours a week on optimisation, compared to 62% who dedicate the same amount of time to design and content.

The report also investigates the most common barriers to effective email marketing, with the results showing the problems experience by marketers have changed over the years.

In 2007 ‘lack of skills and training’ (42%) was the most common issue, but this year half of respondents (50%) cited the ‘quality of the email database’.

Which of the following have you experienced to be barriers to effective email marketing?

Finally, the survey highlights the value of running user tests. Of those that test regularly, 74% report having an “excellent” or “good” ROI, compared to just 37% that do not test.

This year’s Email Census is based on the findings of a survey of more than 1,300 digital marketers. Since 2007, this research has surveyed both those working directly for companies (i.e. in-house or client-side), and those supporting them on the supply-side (i.e. email service providers and agencies).

David Moth

Published 4 April, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (2)


Antony Firth-Clark

The problem with in-house marketers and email is that a great number of companies use it as a reliant source of income/cash flow on a daily or weekly basis. Many companies are too small to commit to the time email planning deserves, and consequentially, you find it becomes an after thought. A manipulative deal with a call-to-action, a quick, nice design and little else.

The challenges these companies face is that, with such a reliance on the channel, but without applying true business and brand intelligence to it, the minute their manipulative deals stop working, or they deliver bad service, or generate a bad case of PR, then this channel will just keep moving in decline.

People take the revenue of email for granted because it's so easy. Continuously hammering their contacts for quick wins, without any thought for the impact of what they're doing. Too many companies are operating on a quick wins over long term value when it comes to email. Where they should focus on a combination of driving loyalty along with a subtle direct-response, too many opt just for the latter. It's almost like a sign of disrespect - the brand doesn't have time to deliver something the email recipient might appreciate falling into their inbox - they just want your money. Yep, this is the psychology that will drive loyalty...

As Simon Sinek says, repeat business is not the same thing as brand loyalty. I truly agree with this. Small companies really need to smarten up with their email strategy, and this, as observed above, requires scientific testing along with the fluffy stuff we all actually want to do.

I keep saying it, and I even wrote a post on my blog about it, are an amazing example of a company that understand the importance of combining technical intelligence with even greater brand intelligence.

The crux of my waffle is that, yes, ROI for email is incomprehensibly amazing, for the amount of effort that goes into it, but it's taken for granted, and so if you're a company considering doing email, or already are, you really need to be thinking about how the short term feeds into the long-term outcome, else you will see your ROI go down, and down, and down.

over 5 years ago


Nondas A

I agree with the article findings, though what ‘marketers say’ and what the ‘stats say’ can sometimes be quite different.

Companies who manage recipient details with the respect they deserve, no doubt experience greater ROI. I find that companies who get direction from anyone in the sales team or a senior marketing member out of touch slightly with digital/direct mail team are normally just desperate to communicate the message to the biggest number of people possible and the lack of segmenting and respect for this channel will be to their detriment. These campaigners will struggle in the long run with ROI and are more often than not, responsible for the belligerently assault and subsequent corrupting of the company’s database.


over 5 years ago

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