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Email marketers are more interested in increasing conversions than in boosting sharing or growing their lists, details a new report [download page] from Ascend2 and its Research Partners. And when it comes to optimizing conversions, personalization seems to be the belle of the ball, per the study.

The survey asked 260 marketers around the world to identify the most effective email marketing tactics they’re using.

Easily the most common response was message personalization (50%), and perhaps with good reason. After all, recent research indicates that:

Beyond message personalization, marketers also identified a meaningful call-to-action (38%) as one of their more effective tactics, harking back to their conversion goal. List data segmentation followed (37%), which is related to personalization efforts.

Somewhat surprisingly, automated campaigns ranked at the bottom of the list of effective tactics. That’s despite automation figuring to be one of the leading ways in which email marketers innovate this year, specifically in using automation to enable 1-to-1 communication.

Also of note, mobile responsive design (28%) was low on the list of effective tactics. That may relate to a heavy B2B contingent in the survey sample, with B2B email remaining very desktop-heavy. Consumers, for their part, tend to greet a non-optimized email with the delete button, according to previous research.

Of course, it may be that mobile optimization is considered a requirement at this point in time. It certainly appears one easily fulfilled: respondents ranked it bottom of the list in terms of difficulty of execution.

Instead, list data segmentation is perceived to be the most difficult email marketing tactic to implement. A study released earlier this year indicated that while about 8 in 10 company marketers are practicing basic segmentation, only one-third report using advanced segmentation techniques.

In last year’s survey on email marketing strategy, Ascend2 found email list segmentation to be marketers’ most effective personalization tactic, edging individualized email messaging for the top spot.

No matter which tactics are the focus, it’s important to have a strategy moving forward: 90% of survey respondents this year said that an email marketing strategy is successful at achieving important objectives.

About the Data: The survey was fielded among 260 respondents from a global panel of marketing influencers and research subscribers, 78% of whom are from companies with at least 50 employees. Almost half (48%) of the respondents are B2B-focused, while 34% target consumers and 18% are both B2B and B2C equally.

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