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Report Explains the State of Email Marketing & Marketing Automation in 2017

Report Explains the State of Email Marketing & Marketing Automation in 2017About 97 percent of businesses regularly use email marketing to convert email readers into buyers, and apparently it works, as 76 percent of subscribers make a purchase after clicking on an email from a brand. Clearly, email marketing is an effective technique, and it’s not going away any time soon. In fact, it’s getting better, thanks to the advent of automation. It turns out two companies–Smart Insights and GetResponse– wanted to know just how much better these two marketing options were getting, so they got together and surveyed 2,510 B2B and B2C email marketers across more than 100 countries. The result was a comprehensive report called Email Marketing and Marketing Automation Excellence 2017. Take a look at some of the most valuable insights from this report as you work on improving your email marketing and automation techniques.

Email Marketing Effectiveness and Benefits

When Smart Insights and GetResponse asked marketers how effective different marketing channels are in their opinion, email marketing came in first place. More specifically, about 18 percent said email marketing is excellent at being effective, and 35 percent said it’s good. How did the other marketing channels fare? Here’s the list, in order of most to least effective:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • SEO
  • Social PPC
  • Content marketing
  • Direct mail
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Search engine/PPC ads
  • Display advertising

So, why do marketers rate email marketing so highly? The top answer surprised the Smart Insights and GetResponse teams, as they thought for sure it would be improved sales. But it turns out generating more leads is the main benefit of email marketing, according to 23 percent of respondents. Improved sales came next at 19 percent, followed closely by improved conversion rates at 17 percent. Other major benefits of email marketing include reduced marketing costs and identifying better quality leads.

All About Email Marketing Capabilities

Email marketing services have lots of features to help marketers with their job…but it turns out many of these features go unnoticed or at least barely used. For example, when this survey asked respondents about marketing automation, these were some of the answers:

  • 21 percent said their knowledge is basic & they don’t use many marketing automation features.
  • 18 percent said they’re at the intermediate level, as they use some features.
  • 17 percent said they don’t use marketing automation at all!

Another finding is that many marketers only track their email sends using basic measures that most email services offer, such as simple open and click rates for email. About 73 percent of marketers said they track email this way. Just 30 percent said they track email using the number of leads they get from registrations and form fields. The least popular response involved tracking by segment for each campaign, as just 13 percent said they do this.

Targeting is another email service capability that largely goes unused by many marketers, as a whopping 50 percent said they don’t target at all. About 29 percent said they use basic segmentation–using 2 to 5 criteria, such as industry or demographics–while only 14 percent use segmentation complete with personalization, such as dynamic content.

The bottom line is that the marketers who don’t target may be getting away with this because email marketing is such a powerful tactic that it often gets results even on the most basic level. But your ROI (and customer appeal) will be even better when you target your audience so you’re not blindly sending everyone the same email! If you’d like to learn more about how effective email targeting can be, read “How Dynamic Email Targeting Will Change Everything.”

Communicating Through Email

So, what kind of content are the email marketers in this survey sending their audience? It seems the standard newsletter is still the email marketing staple, as 58 percent of respondents send this type of content. Next up is the sales-focused email, which 46 percent of marketers send, though 43 percent send autoresponders, too.

Less popular types of content include welcome emails for new subscribers, automated and event-triggered messages, reactivation emails, and follow-ups after people view products. Overall, it seems like automated emails are still not that popular, which means there’s room for growth here, once marketers get more comfortable with automation anyway.

Email frequency is a subject that often comes up when considering email marketing. How often should you send emails? About 33 percent of the marketers in this report said they email their audience 2 to 3 times per month. Nearly 20 percent send emails 4 to 6 times per month, while 16 percent do so more than 6 times per month (including one of my favorite brands, which has been sending me 2 to 3 emails per day lately…). This report pointed out that more than 6 emails per month is likely excessive, while just once or twice probably isn’t enough.

The Growth of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is still a new concept, so it’s not a surprise that many marketers haven’t exactly mastered it yet. About one quarter of this survey’s respondents said they have a good grasp on marketing automation…but nearly one in five don’t use it at all! This means they’re missing out on features like automated welcome emails, personalized content that changes depending on the customer, lead scoring, lead nurturing emails, and more.

Of the marketers who do use automation already, these are the three most popular techniques:

  • Email automation – 66 percent
  • Basic targeting – 33 percent
  • Personalization through dynamic content – 25 percent

Clearly, marketing automation is useful, especially for email. So why don’t more marketers use it? The top five challenges include:

  • Securing the budget – 36 percent
  • Customer data quality – 35 percent
  • Knowledge of how to set up different types of automation – 35 percent
  • Producing engaging content – 34 percent
  • Measuring effectiveness – 33 percent

Only 15 percent of respondents named lack of buy-in from upper management as one of their challenges, so it seems most marketers at least see the value in marketing automation. They just don’t have the budget for it yet.

You can learn more about email marketing and automation–including tips on integrating content marketing into your automation plans–when you check out the full Email Marketing and Marketing Automation Excellence 2017 report. Then let us know if the results match your experiences with marketing automation and email in this field.

And if you’re interested in giving marketing automation a try, download our guide, Marketing Automation Platforms: Total Cost of Ownership, to learn more!