E-consultancy has this week published its Email Marketing Industry Census in association with Adestra.

The findings, based on a survey of more than 500 email marketers, reveal a high level of investment in this channel but at the same time shed light on a widespread failure to get the most out of it.

It is clear that there is an alarming lack of measurement and understanding of return on investment. Almost half of the “client-side” respondents surveyed (47%) do not know their companies’ ROI from email marketing.

Paul Crabtree, Marketing Director at email service provider Adestra, said: “It is critical for future growth, and makes basic business sense, to be able to measure ROI. In fact, it can severely stunt growth if you can’t measure ROI as it will make proving the business case for extra investment almost impossible.”

He added: “The point is that email marketing is probably the most direct channel to be able to measure ROI – and it is a relatively simple process to enable it.”

The recommendations section of the Census contains tips for organisations trying to get a handle on email.

Here are a few pointers from Adestra to help companies measure ROI when sending targeted, personalised campaigns to a designated database.

1. Ask each customer how they found out about you.
2. Invest in web analytics to track all orders back to where they began their web session from.
3. Use an email marketing provider that can integrate with your website to track orders.
4. Monitor other inbound channels (telephone lines) and use discount codes/ special offers/ unique phone numbers to label enquiries and orders.  
5. Allocate and spend unrushed time analysing the performance of each campaign.

Those who are measuring ROI are clearly doing well out of this channel. Of those who know what their ROI is, more than half (55%) say the returns are three times or more.

Four out of five respondents (81%) said that they were not using email as effectively as they could be.

And the reason for this? The problem of lack of skills and training – a major issue across the digital sector – has reared its head again.

Some 42% of respondents deemed this to be problem, making it a bigger stumbling block than lack of budget / finances (39%) and lack of strategy (36%).

The 2007 Census findings covers the following areas:

-) Approach to Email Marketing and Services / Functionality being used.
-) Extent of Email Marketing Activity, Budget and Return on Investment.
-) Issues and Barriers to Effective Email Marketing.

E-consultancy subscribers can download a full copy of the report here.