While email marketing budgets and the volume of emails sent has been increasing steadily over the last five years, marketers still need to focus on basics like deliverability and testing to improve performance. 

We have just published our Email Marketing Census 2011, sponsored by Adestra, which surveys almost 900 in-house and agency email marketers.

Some findings from the survey after the jump…


Testing should be an integral part of any email campaign, as it offers the opportunity to constantly learn and improve, yet too few marketers are putting this into practice. 

Only a third of responding companies (32%) carry out a regular amount of testing for email marketing. One quarter of organisations say they infrequently carry out testing, while 13% don’t test at all.

Generally speaking, how would you describe the amount of testing you carry out for email marketing? (Company respondents)


According to e-commerce consultant and Econsultancy guest blogger James Gurd

“I’ve found that often it is a lack of understanding of how to structure a testing program, so agencies can really add value here through education and encouragement. Testing doesn’t have to involve complex MVT programs, basics like landing page testing (43% don’t do this) can deliver insight and quick improvements in conversion.”

Types of testing 

Companies are most likely to be testing subject lines (72%), while the next most popular types of testing are pre-send spam testing (62%), time/day of week (53%) and from name/address (53%).

While more companies are testing template offers and articles, as well as for spam and subject lines since last year’s study, the number of companies testing landing pages has declined by 9% since last year’s census. 

Landing pages are a key part of the conversion process, yet just 32% of client side respondents are carrying out such tests. Also, just 32% are testing for frequency of emails, something which can be a key factor in keeping customers engaged and reducing spam reports. 

According to Econsultancy’s US Research Director Stefan Tomquist: 

“Email marketers who are routinely doing subject line testing already have the knowledge to conduct other tests that can have a dramatic effect on performance. Among the first to consider should be testing landing pages for key products/registration etc. Shifting conversion by even a small amount has real long term implications.”


Alongside testing (or lack of) deliverability emerged as one of the key problem areas in this year’s survey. Many companies are unaware of the scale of the problem, with just 12% able to put a figure on the amount of email budget that has been wasted thanks to non-delivery.

This figure has declined from 2009, as the table below shows. The figures for agency respondents were slightly higher, with 19% knowing the proportion of budget lost, though this has also declined, from 38% in 2009. 

Do you know what percentage of your email marketing budget has been lost through non-delivery of email in the last 12 months? (Company respondents)

email census2

We asked those that had a figure for this, and company respondents told us that 10% of email budget was wasted thanks to non-delivery, while agency respondents put this figure at 14%. 

What is the average percentage of your/your clients‟ email marketing budget that has been lost through non-delivery of email in the last 12 months?

email census 3

Biggest factors in improving deliverability

Clean and up-to-date lists (64%), relevance of email to recipients (52%) and sender reputation (44%) are seen as having the biggest impact on improving deliverability. 

It is worth noting that increased use of testing is considered to have a significant impact on email deliverability by less than a fifth of client-side respondents (19%).

Other key findings from the report

  • The proportion of companies sending more than 50,000 emails each month has gradually increased in the last four years, from 40% in 2007 to 60% in 2011.
  • The proportion of companies spending more than £50,000 per year on email marketing has increased from 17% in 2007 to 25% in 2011.
  • The quality of email databases is considered to be a significant barrier to effective use of email by 55% of companies surveyed. 50% feel lack of strategy is a significant problem while 49% cite lack of segmentation. 
  • Email continues to be a vital component of the marketing mix and the vast majority of companies (72%) rate email as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in terms of ROI.
  • Compared to 2007, when Econsultancy carried out the first Email Census, significantly more companies are taking advantage of a range of services offered by email providers including automated campaigns (+30%), personalisation (+26%), measurement &  analytics (+22%) and segmentation (+16%).
  • In 2011, the key areas of focus for email marketers are segmentation (32%), delivering relevant communications (29%), list/data quality (26%) and measurement & analytics (25%).