Email remains a mainstay for marketers. In fact, not only did the volume of emails sent out increase last year, but so did open rates. But, how effective is email marketing? The latest The State of Email Marketing report from Validity and Demand Metric takes a look.
Despite the disruptions in society and marketing last year, the majority of B2B and B2C marketers surveyed report that email marketing effectiveness, at the very least, did not change. Indeed, some 39% say that its effectiveness held steady in 2020, while a similar share report seeing effectiveness improve significantly (8%) or slightly (30%). In the meantime, fewer than one-quarter say that email’s effectiveness declined significantly (9%) or slightly (13%) from the previous year.
Email Marketing Objectives
Last year saw very little change in the top objectives of email marketers from 2019. The top objectives continue to revolve around communicating with customers (71%), building brand awareness (69%), communicating with prospects (52%), and generating revenue (52%). However, compared to 2019, there seems to be a slight shift away from generating revenue (56% in 2019) and communicating with customers (74% in 2019), and instead towards building brand awareness (64%).
The shift away from generating revenue as a top objective is most pronounced in the B2C sector. In 2019, 8 in 10 B2C marketers cited revenue generation as a key email marketing objective, but in 2020 only about half (52%) considered it a top objective. This put it more on par with B2B marketers — 47% of whom listed it as an objective in 2020 (up from 41% in 2019).
B2B and B2C companies appear to prioritize the use of email differently when it comes to communication. B2B companies were more apt to list communicating with prospects as an objective compared to B2C companies (72% vs. 57%). On the other hand, more B2Cs listed communicating with customers as an objective compared to their B2B counterparts (75% vs. 66%).
Ascend2 found that one of the most difficult objectives email marketers are trying to achieve is maintaining an engaged list. Engagement appears again in responses to Validity and Demand Metric’s survey. More than one-third (35%) of respondents listed it as one of the challenges they experienced in 2020 (newly added to the 2020 survey).
The associated challenge most respondents (45%) encountered last year was competition in the inbox. They also found staffing/resource constraints (33%), low visibility into email performance (25%) and poorly defined metrics (24%) to be key obstacles.
At the same time, the report indicates a decrease in sophistication in email marketing approaches, with fewer marketers using tactics such as subject line optimization (2019: 52%; 2020: 47%) and email deliverability optimization (2019: 51%; 2020:36%) than did a year earlier.
- Only about one-quarter (26%) of marketers have adopted Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) in order to combat malicious email practices, and only 2 in 10 (21%) use Brand Indicators of Message Identification (BIMI);
- Email marketers reporting greater than 90% inbox placement rates are more likely than those with lower rates to know subscriber preferences, such as where they open emails and the mobile device they are using. They are also more likely to follow list management best practices;
- Nearly half (47%) of marketers who reported average open rates of 16% or higher used technology to look at the percentage of their email going into the inbox; and
- Some 53% of those with average open rates of 16% or higher also actively monitored their sender reputation.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Results are based on a survey among 452 respondents across B2B and B2C markets conducted between 10/27/20 and 1/2/21.