Email Marketing Isn't as Personal as It Could Be

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Although 58% of marketers polled use personalization in their email marketing, just 18% use advanced segmentation, according to a new report.

The majority of marketers plan to step up their email budgets in 2016. They have the opportunity to step up engagement, too, if they dedicate some of that but to increasing personalization.

That's the takeaway from GetResponse's new report, “The State of Email Marketing by Industry.” Researchers surveyed more than 1,800 email marketers in myriad industries, including consumer goods, education, finance, health, information technology, marketing services providers, media, retail, travel, and transportation. The study found that 57% of marketers will increase their email budget in 2016 and 28% plan to keep it the same; a mere 2% said they plan to decrease their email marketing budget.

The report provides a side-by-side industry comparison in several areas. It shows that the consumer goods industry has the highest open rates (41.4%), followed by travel and transportation (31%), education (24.7%), vacation/hotels/leisure (22.3%), media (19.4%), and heath and wellness (19.1%).

Across those distinctly different industries, researchers found that the largest percentage of those surveyed—23% of email marketers—dubbed lead generation as the greatest benefit email marketing. That's followed by improved sales (19%) and improved conversion rates (17%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, those surveyed named email automation as the most common technique to drive action from recipients. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they are using email automation. Compare that to 58% who said they use personalization techniques. Similarly, 58% use varying levels of segmentation, from basic to advanced; just 18% said they are using advanced segmentation. Forty-two percent of marketers don't segment their email messages at all. Only 17% of those polled said they use responsive design.

Without question, all marketers want their email messages to be effective. But, on average, only 21% of marketers across industries said that email marketing delivers an excellent return on investment. 

Here are a few notable best practices listed in the study:

— Track and test metrics that match the campaign goals.

— Create holistic email marketing plans that widen the focus from email-only strategies to methods that include all messaging sources.

— Optimize the sending frequency of emails by using metrics that gauge sales, revenue, downloads, and unsubscribes.

—  Don't over-promise in your email subject lines.

— Test and optimize continually; this includes using longitudinal test that are set up to run over time.

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