An awesome study was just conducted by the folks at Folio Magazine and WhatCounts. It surveys a bunch of publishers, asking them about their challenges, goals and the opportunities presented to them by email marketing. It took place through the month of September, and we’re happy to share the results with all of you email marketers out there!
Publishers were asked about the top challenges that they face when it came to email marketing. From 1 to 7, publishers ranked list growth as their main challenge – last year they did so too. In second place came Monetization of the email channel (ads) at 4.04 – while ads within emails are becoming less obtrusive, the more adsy an email is, the more likely a subscriber might be to opt-out of a list or label an email as spam. In third place, in-house resources/expertise won the day – perhaps because businesses don’t allocate enough funds to hire either an email marketing expert, or team to handle it. The good news is that digital marketing budgets are on the rise, especially in the realm of email marketing. Some more good news, publishers ranked optimization the least challenging issue when email marketing, which means that everyone is slowly but surely realizing the importance of optimization in 2015.
Publishers were also asked how they go about their ESP search. Unsurprisingly, Available services within the platform was in first place at 4.42. Number 2 was zccount and technical support (something that we take great pride in at DirectIQ, offering 24/7 support!). In third place was Data integration services, which suggests that publishers are beginning to realize the importance of data when it comes to running the best email campaigns. Funny enough, culture alignment and 1:1 Content personalization were both in last place… This is terrible for three reasons…
One: Personalization prevents consumers from unsubscribing!
Two: Personalization helps makes email go viral!
Three: Your list grows much more rapidly with personalization!
Following along with how optimization is becoming less of worry for publishers, it comes as no surprise that that 77.72% of respondents claimed that their templates are responsively designed.
Now, this surprised the DirectIQ team, when asked how valuable email marketing is to their organization, only 24.46% of them claimed it to be their most valuable marketing channel. This is revealing, because email marketing is constantly voted the the most effective marketing channel! 60.33% of respondents claimed it was not #1 but in their top three, and 15.22% claimed that it’s not even in their top three. Furthermore, only 60.33% of publishers admitted to having an email preference center on their site that allows subscribers to change their email frequency and update content preferences.
The good news is that publishers are tracking top KPIs, as 73.91% admitted to tracking the percent of website traffic driven by email. This suggest that email is contributing greatly to their website traffic, and that they are making necessary changes to their newsletters and fiddling around to create the best traffic possible. Tied for second place were monthly list growth trends, and percent of list that is inactive. This suggest that they are taking their number one email marketing issue to heart and working to maintain their list. That said, they voted lifetime value of an email address to your organization in last place – this needs to change, and one way to do that is to create newsletters more aligned to their company culture and are more personalized. With such KPI’s in mind, it’s important to use an ESP that offers amazingly detailed campaign reports… To be clear: Don’t pick one based on word of mouth-industry peers.
Here is the most startling finding from this study: According to publishers, the average monthly spend on email marketing (despite it’s high ROI), is less than $1,000. This could be for a couple reasons: 1) pricing for email marketing is rather cheap compared to other marketing channels like social. And 2) pricing is dependent upon list size. That being said, companies need to spend more to deliver automated and personalized emails – as this will surely maximize ROI and take care of any extra costs for top automation systems. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 14.13% of publishers admitted to spending $10,000 or more on email marketing.
When it came to ROI from email marketing services, most publishers measured it by indirect ad revenue (lifts in page views/traffic), which took first place at 49.46%. Direct ad revenue (as that are in emails) took second place at 44.57% and not far behind it was email list size at 41.85%. The correlation between the top three is clear: A larger list size means more ad views within the email, and more indirect ad revenue as traffic increases. Only 23.37% of publishers in the study measured ROI by the number of paid magazine subscription conversions and 26.09% shared that they measure ROI in other ways as well.
Regarding campaign creation, and the content within their newsletters, 71.74% of publishers said that their editors dictate content, manually placing content into their newsletter. Only 4.35% of publishers said that they had a completely automated system based on subscriber behaviors. In the middle of the pack, 23.91% said that their editors dictate the content so that it’s pulled from their CMS and directly into their newsletter. We here at DirectIQ believe that this will surely change that over the next couple years, as there will be a seismic shift for all businesses lagging behind on content personalization and CMS integration. It’s just a matter of time before every email a recipient receives is completely directed at them!