Marketers agree that Email Marketing Automation is the future, yet 4 in 10 automation programmes fail. Although marketing automation has been around for some time, its adoption is best described as slow and steady, according to the Email Marketing Industry Census 2015 from Econsultancy and Adestra.
While showing improvement since last year, 39% of companies still rate their email marketing automation campaigns as 'not successful' and just 7% view them as 'very successful'. With automation and data management top of the priority list for 2015, companies have some work to do.
The perception of marketing automation capabilities varies - 43% of companies think Email Service Providers [ESPs] are 'advanced', while agencies say less than half that figure, just 19%. Given agencies are using more functionality of ESPs, they may have a more accurate viewpoint - and this perception could be one reason why adoption is slow.
The slight improvement in automation performance may be linked to the increased use of automated triggers. The majority of automated trigger points have seen increased use compared to last year. However, figures are still low - most triggers are only used by less than a third of companies and only 'subscription or sign-up to website' (65%) and 'automated response to website visit / sign-up' (59%) are being used by more than half.
Agencies on the other hand, are making much more use of triggers, up to double that of in-house marketers.
However, the expectation is that organisations will continue to increase their use of automation to deliver timely, relevant content to their customers. More than half (54%) identified marketing automation as an area they are not yet doing to their satisfaction. Additionally, when asked which areas they would really like to focus on in 2015, the highest ranked option was automated campaigns (29%).
Further examination of areas marketers would like to improve shows it's all about the data. The top four on the list are: better personalisation (64%), better segmentation (61%), marketing automation (54%) and cross channel data (52%). All require marketers to have good grasp of data management and analytics.
Looking ahead five years - while there's some debate on the level of automation and integration of marketing channels - the single biggest change to email marketing will be clearly around data. The most popular words used by company respondents being 'data', 'content', 'personalisation' and, for agencies, also 'integration' and 'relevant'.
Email will continue to be a measurable, reliable, dependable channel for marketers that want to drive results. However, its degrees of relevancy will increasingly depend on whether businesses manage email as merely a direct response channel, or as an integral piece of the jigsaw for delivering personalised, integrated and automated customer experiences.