Forrester: Keep Your Eye on the Email

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Merging email with other channels is all well and good, but a Forrester Wave analysis holds that the email channel itself could stand improvement.

Is email ready for the wider world of marketing?
Is email ready for the wider world of marketing?

Email marketers who rated their vendors for the benefit of the Forrester Wave report released this week told the researcher they cared more about data security, account management, ease of use, and database support than about email's presence in the marketing cloud. While email naturally meshes with other channels like Web and mobile, Forrester's assessment is that marketers might want to overhaul their email operations before deploying them on a larger scale.

The sea change toward opening emails on mobile devices has moved 71% of marketers into responsive design mode for emails, but that's about as far afield as they've ventured in the realm of innovation. Forrester's survey of 89 email marketers found that nearly two-fifths of them don't currently integrate email with other channels and that only 19% of them have included email in a multichannel mix for three years or more. Two-thirds don't perform micro-segment targeting, 61% haven't tried open-time personalization, and 58% have yet to enable in-email transactions.

But innovation is on the horizon, says Forrester, aided by the recent interest of marketing clouds in email vendors. “Rather than slowing innovation as we expected it to,” reads Forrester's Email Marketing Vendors Wave Report, “the email vendor acquisition spree of the past 18 months made room for different vendors to introduce innovative offerings.”

ExactTarget, acquired by since Forrester last rated email vendors in 2012, got higher marks this time around for analysis and reporting and data modeling. Responsys, purchased in late 2013 by Oracle, showed improvement in professional services. But Forrester reserved its highest rankings for two independent providers spurred on by the heightened competitive set. StrongView was praised for its plan to use email to enable contextual marketing, while Epsilon returned to the elite ranks for the quality of its professional services and its support for global business.

The goals marketers set for their email programs remain cut from the basic email template. The top five are: “retain customers;” “drive sales;” “build loyalty;” “increase website traffic;” and “generate brand awareness.”

“This doesn't mean that marketers don't value integrated marketing solutions,” Forrester concluded. “But it does mean that they want email best practices—as well as multichannel solutions—that can boost results.”

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