Does email marketing work?

In spite of fears that it is losing its edge, done right, email marketing still gives a good return on investment.

  • All the standard process metrics for digital marketing - open rates, click rates and conversion rates - are up
  • Problems arise from poor segmentation of audience, and lack of testing
  • Uncertainty around the GDPR continues to weigh on digital marketeers

New research from the Digital Marketing Association suggests that email marketing still gives good bang for its buck. In fact, for every £1 spent, email marketing brings in £32,28, up from £30.03 the previous year. However, the Association’s annual report shows that it needs to be done right to reap the benefits.

The report showed that all the standard process metrics - open rates, click rates and conversion rates - are up, suggesting email marketing is working better than ever. However, it is not universally done well and many people using digital marketing can’t assess its results. One in five (19%) of marketers questioned for the survey say their organisation has no competence at all in testing email marketing programmes, with a further 15% saying they don’t conduct any tests on the emails they send to customers – almost double the 8% last year.

There was also a strong correlation between those not segmenting their audience and those reporting little to no active email testing happening in their business. The Association points out that email makes it relatively easy to test new tactics, and this should be part and parcel of any email marketing strategy. 

The report also showed that there remains plenty of concern on the impact of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) on email marketing programmes. Just 36% feel positive and 43% feel negative.

The survey shows that the biggest challenge to creating a successful email marketing strategy remains limited internal resources. This was followed by limited budget (24%), inefficient internal processes (23%), lack of data (23%) and a lack of strategy (22%). The Association said preparations for GDPR had played a role, as had outdated in-house technology, which is now a barrier for 17% of marketers, up from just 11% two years ago.