How email marketing aids social media strategies
Marketers are using social media to enhance their email marketing campaigns rather than to replace them, according to a survey of 900 digital marketers by Econsultancy and Adestra.
The 'Email Marketing Industry Census' found that more than one third of companies (37%) are using email to encourage the sharing of content on social networks, and another 31% reported that they are planning to do so.
One in five companies (21%) are also using email to promote customer ratings and reviews, while a further 26% have plans to do so, and 28% are using video content in their emails as they increasingly try to use email to increase customer engagement.
In fact, email marketing now accounts for some 17% of digital marketing budgets (compared to 14% in 2009). This increased investment in email marketing can be attributed to the fact that the majority of companies (75%) rated email as 'excellent' or 'good' in terms of return on investment (ROI).
According to Henry Hyder-Smith, managing director for email service provider Adestra, "The explosive impact of social media on email marketing and its significance in the census can't be ignored, and email is far from dying in the midst of the social media revolution. Instead of cannibalisation, we are seeing a solid partnership evolving between the two, with email and social media working in harmony to fuel each other."
however, despite the fact that many companies are becoming more sophisticated in their email marketing practices, and the fact that many are integrating the channel with other sales and marketing activities, there remains a degree of concern that many marketers are not following basic best practices. They study found that many organisations are still not paying sufficient attention to the quality of their lists and the importance of the relevance of marketing emails.
In addition, the study found that - despite legal requirements to do so - only 56% of companies are using opt-in (43%) or confirmed opt-in (13%) data for their acquisition emails, while only 60% are using opt-in (39%) or confirmed opt-in (21%) data for their retention emails.
Marketers reported that the quality of their database is be the biggest barrier to effective email marketing. This was cited as a problem by 61% (up from 44% in 2009). Despite this, only 32% said that list quality and data quality would be a top-three priority for 2010.
The proportion of marketers reporting problems reaching recipients' email inboxes also increased from 51% in 2009 to 54% in 2010. The percentage of marketers reporting that deliverability is a major barrier to email marketing success also increased, from 13% in 2009 to 24% in 2010.
Linus Gregoriadis, research director for Econsultancy, warned: "Marketers must take care to focus on the relevance of their email in a world where it is becoming increasingly important for brands to demonstrate value, rather than bombarding people with unwanted messages. Sophisticated segmentation and effective list-cleansing are more important than ever. "
Among the other key findings of the study:
- More than half (54%) are now using a hosted email service as the growth of web-based email applications continues (compared to 47% in 2009, 33% in 2008, and 27% in 2007;
- There has been a significant increase (+5%) in the proportion of marketers reporting a return on investment (ROI) from email of more than 500%;
- As in previous years, there are still too few marketers who understand their ROI from email, as 39% still can't track this vital metric;
- From a range of email marketing practices, companies are most likely to be carrying out basic segmentation (80%) and regular list-cleansing (58%).
- The practices that marketers are most likely to be planning to carry out included advanced segmentation (42%), content personalisation beyond the customer's name (37%), and behavioural targeting based on web activity (34%);
- The integration of email marketing with other sales and marketing activities is an ongoing challenge, with only 17% reporting that their email marketing is "fully integrated" (the same percentage reported in the 2009 study).