Thursday 4 April, 2013

Email is continuing to perform strongly for marketers even though companies are spending too little time on optimisation of campaigns compared to design and content.

Despite the channel’s on-going ability to deliver great return on investment, only 39% of in-house marketers rate the performance of their companies' campaigns as “excellent” or “good”, while 15% admit their campaigns are “poor”.

These are among the key findings of the seventh edition of the Email Marketing Industry Census, published by Econsultancy and Adestra.

More than a quarter (27%) of respondents state that they spend no time at all internally on optimising their campaigns, a figure that has increased from 21% in 2008. Even for those that do optimise, few are spending significant amounts of time on this. 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 2013 version of this bellwether report covers new and changing trends within this key marketing channel, and its integration with other areas of marketing and key business functions.

According to the research, email remains very strong for return on investment, directly and indirectly driving a large chunk of sales. Two thirds (66%) of in-house marketers rate email as delivering “excellent” or “good” ROI.

This positive attitude towards its effectiveness is reflected in the proportion of respondents reporting significant sales from the channel. More than half (55%) of companies have more than 10% of their sales coming from email.

Econsultancy Research Director, Linus Gregoriadis, said: “This year’s Email Census is based on our largest ever survey of email marketers and we are more confident than ever that this represents a definitive view of the marketplace. Seven years of Email Census data show that email continues to be a key channel for marketers, continuing to drive sales and delivering strong ROI for businesses.

“However, many companies are still procrastinating when it comes to best practice and optimisation. Too many businesses are still only planning to make improvements to their email marketing efforts, rather than taking the plunge and putting best practice into action. Email marketers are often overly focused on the aesthetic qualities or their email campaigns rather than improving their impact on the bottom line.”

Henry Hyder-Smith, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Adestra, said: “For the first time this year we asked marketers to rate their email marketing performance and the results are shocking. Almost two thirds of respondents (60%) admit to poor or average performance. It seems remarkable that marketers have been so open and self-deprecating. If it was an end of year exam, marketers would be failing badly. However, on a positive note, it does open up lots of areas for improvement.”

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).

Other findings:

-) The most commonly cited barriers to effective email marketing have changed over the years, from “lack of skills and training” in 2007 (42%), to “quality of the email database” in 2013 (50%). Half (50%) of marketers state that the quality of their email database is a major barrier to effective email marketing. However, only 49% carry out any regular list cleansing and just 22% are carrying out advanced segmentation.

-) Those companies that test are far more likely to report a good ROI from email. Of those that test regularly, 74% report having an “excellent” or “good” ROI, compared to just 37% that do not test.

-) Companies are realising the importance of mobile, but are yet to achieve best practice. Although 33% still do not know what proportion of their emails are read on mobile devices (significantly down from 48% last year), 23% state that over 30% of their emails are now read on mobile devices, compared to just 9% last year. Despite this, only a minority of companies are adapting to this change. A quarter of respondents optimise email for mobile devices, and just 6% state that their mobile marketing is “well integrated” with their overall email marketing activity.

-) Integration remains an issue generally for companies, who continue to have problems when it comes to integrating their email activity with other areas of the business. Respondents most commonly cited “disconnected systems and technologies” as the principal barrier to integrating email, and “further integration” was the area most frequently cited when respondents were asked what they would like to do with email that they can’t currently do.

-) Agencies appear to be ahead of the curve when it comes to listing both “mobile friendly emails” (31% for agencies, vs. 24% for companies) and “delivering relevant communications” (28% vs. 21%) as priority for email in 2013.

Get this report:

The full Email Marketing Industry Census Report 2013 is available for download here:

The report is available to Econsultancy subscribers (Silver subscription and above), or on a pay-per-view basis.

For more information contact:
Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director, Econsultancy

linus AT

T: +44 (0)207 7269 1450

About Econsultancy

Econsultancy is a digital marketing best practice community and publisher, which educates the world’s marketers on everything from web analytics and email marketing, to social media, PR and ecommerce. Econsultancy provides independent research, consultancy services, and worldwide events and training for over 180,000 users, and has offices in London, New York, Sydney, Singapore and Dubai. Econsultancy was acquired by Centaur Media plc in July 2012.


About Adestra

Adestra is a leading Email Service Provider. Hundreds of organisations and thousands of users trust us to grow their email marketing strategies. Our global presence spans Oxford, London and New York. So wherever you are, you’ll receive consistent email marketing solutions that deliver results.

Since forming in 2004, we’ve worked hard to become one of the industry’s most respected names. Our success is driven by our innovative technology, excellent client service and proven deliverability.

For email marketing that delivers results, call now on +44 (0)1865 242425, visit our website or email

Published on: 10:14AM on 4th April 2013