Email remains a mainstay for marketers, having even increased in importance during the pandemic. A new report [pdf] from Ascend2 and its Research Partners finds more than 8 in 10 marketers at least somewhat agreeing that executing an effective email marketing program will be critical to the success of their overall marketing strategy in the coming year.
The biggest challenge standing in the way of email success is increasing engagement, as cited by 63% of respondents, who spanned B2B, B2C and B2B2C. Improving engagement is difficult in a time of increased inbox competition, and there are indications that people are spending less time reading emails and that marketers are dealing with engagement data issues as a result of privacy changes.
To try to face these obstacles, marketers will be deploying a variety of trends in the year ahead. Not surprisingly, a majority will use mobile-friendly design, though it’s surprising to see only about half (53%) saying they will do so, particularly as marketers tend to see higher response rates on mobiles than desktops. It’s worth noting that almost two-thirds of the respondents are from smaller companies (fewer than 50 employees), so these results are not necessarily representative of larger companies.
Nonetheless, other trends that at least half of respondents will look to employ with their email marketing in the coming year including personalization (beyond the name) and automation. Email marketing tends to be the most common channel for both of these initiatives.
Beyond these, roughly 4 in 10 (39%) of respondents report that they will include interactive content in their email program. Interactive content is a key tool for digital engagement among both B2C and B2B marketers. Privacy/security features and accessible design (which marketers are trying to improve) will also be on the agenda for some.
Just 1 in 6 (16% of) respondents said they will make use of AI in their email programs. When separately asked what the most useful ways to use AI in email marketing would be, the leading responses were for email targeting and to craft personalized newsletters. Others see the benefit of using AI to understand the customer lifecycle, improve deliverability, and clean their email list.
- The most important tests that can be performed for email are message (e.g. greeting, body, closing) and subject line, per the marketers surveyed.
- Fewer than 1 in 5 (17%) said that their current marketing technology stack allows them to “extensively” measure the impact of email marketing on their overall marketing performance, though an additional 51% said it lets them “partially” measure email’s impact.
- ROI is the most effective KPI to measure the performance of email programs in the coming year, per the respondents, followed by conversion rate, click-through rate, and click-to-open rate.
For more, check out the report here [pdf].
About the Data: The results are based on a July survey of 404 marketers targeting B2C (45% share), B2B (30%) and B2B and B2C equally (25%). Some 66% work at companies with fewer than 50 employees.