The Email Marketing Industry Census 2012, newly-released by eConsultancy and Adestra, finds that companies that carry out basic segmentation and testing are far more likely to be getting a high level of return on investment from their email marketing campaigns. 81% of companies who do regular testing for email marketing say their ROI from email is "excellent" or "good", compared to 72% for those who do "occasional" testing, 65% for those who do "infrequent" testing and only 37% for those who "don't test". However, the kicker is—so few companies actually do testing.
According to the research, only 31% of companies surveyed regularly test their email marketing campaigns. While the findings may be intuitive—testing yields better results–eConsultancy research director Linus Gregoriadis says this is the first year the six-year-old study has been able to quantify the link.
"This year, for the first time, we have shown that companies observing some basic best practices are reaping the rewards when it comes to ROI from email marketing." He adds that he hopes with the new data more companies will be inspired to adopt best practices. "Put simply, those simply performing 'batch and blast' techniques are less likely to see ROI benefits."
However, recent trends suggest that won’t happen. Other studies have also pointed to a link between segmentation and performance, but still email marketers don’t appear to be inclined to adopt these practices.
A report by Emailvision found that almost all US and European online marketing professionals believe it is very important (68.4%) or important (28.1%) to send targeted and personalized email marketing campaigns.
Yet for some reason, this does not happen. The Emailvision survey went on to note that only 1 in 5 actively personalize their email marketing content across all campaigns, and that the proportion personalizing content across all platforms is almost matched by the percentage not personalizing any of their email marketing (18.5%).
Some in the industry believe that as better tools come to market this will begin to change. ExactTarget, for example, has introduced a new data segmentation application called Audience Builder. It has a drag-and-drop interface that consolidates and segments data to create targeted audiences for campaigns across email, mobile, social media and the web.
However, lack of tools may be only a one part of the problem. Ken Magill at the Magill Report notes that experts who call for email marketers to segment their email files often have no idea what’s involved in producing and managing the creative alone.
"Database marketing expert Arthur Hughes had several articles published in 2011 explaining that just 20 percent of marketers he had worked with segmented their email files. Why? Because creating and managing all the different pieces of collateral is too painful," he wrote.
"Marketers are finding that if they increase the volume of email they make more money, and they do it without having to hire additional creative talent," Hughes wrote. So that’s what they do."