Poor quality data is the biggest barrier to effective email marketing, according to the new Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Census 2013.

Half (50%) of respondents stated that the quality of their email database caused problems with their email campaigns, meaning that it has been the most common barrier for three years running.

A further 43% cited a lack of strategy as a key problem, followed by lack of time (41%) and poor segmentation (39%).

The Email Marketing Census looks at the amount and type of email marketing carried out by organisations, the way that email marketing is conducted, issues affecting the industry and the effectiveness of email compared to other digital marketing channels.

More 1,300 respondents took part in the 2013 Census, which took the form of an online survey in January and February 2013.

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

Looking at how the barriers to email success have changed since 2007, ‘quality of email database’ has actually become more prevalent, increasing by 16% in the past six years.

The barrier that has decreased most since 2007 is lack of budget/finances, with a 16% drop in the proportion of companies citing it as a key barrier. This obviously suggests that companies may have increased their email budgets in recent years.

Change in barriers since 2007

According to email marketing consultant Kath Pay:

Within many companies, email is one of the few channels that finds itself bereft of a strategy. Email is a fantastic channel, however, without a clear and guiding strategy, many of its strengths are not harnessed. 


Perhaps unsurprisingly, a majority of businesses (58%) stated that clean and up-to-date lists have the biggest impact on improving deliverability, and this has increased by 4% since 2012.

The next most cited factors are relevance of email to recipients (45%) and reputation of sender (44%).

Which of the following have the biggest impact on improving the likelihood of emails reaching the inbox (i.e. deliverability)?

The Email Census also looks at how deliverability issues have changed since last year.

Only three factors show increases in percentages since 2012; clean and up-to-date lists (4%), reputation of sender (5%) and use of confirmed opt-in data (3%).

On the flip side, the need for experienced in-house marketers is apparently less important now than it was a year ago (-7%).

Change in impact on deliverability since 2012