A Majority of Email Marketers Are Flying Blind

Direct marketing is about relevance and targeting. But more than half of email marketers (55%) admit that they’re unable to perform any customer segmentation and end up blindly blasting the same communication to every email address, according to a study released today by email intelligence provider Return Path.

Lack of necessary data and competitive strategies are the chief causes of this failure, according to George Bilbrey, president of Return Path. “[About] one in five emails doesn’t make it into the inbox, and emailers don’t know which ones,” he says. “In addition, email teams are often understaffed and don’t have the ability to analyze best practices being used by their competitors.”

The New York -based company commissioned The Relevancy Group to survey more than 300 marketing executives and found that 40% of them lack the analytics to determine inbox placement rates. Nearly two thirds say that access to the right data is a challenge for their organizations, and almost a third admit that they don’t know how to access the data necessary to perform a proper campaign evaluation.

One persistent problem facing email marketers is inaccurate reporting from large Internet service providers, such as Yahoo, Google, and Comcast. “Things are changing at mailbox providers. Some are filtering emails at the individual user level,” Bilbrey points out. “Say two people are receiving the same newsletter and one always opens it and the other rarely does.  The latter person’s email might now show up in the junk mail folder and the sender has no way of knowing it.”

At the same time, competitive intelligence gathering among email marketers remains unsophisticated or nonexistent. While a quarter of emailers responding to the survey agree that doing competitive research increases a campaign’s revenue, only 23% say they analyze their rivals’ activities on a regular basis.

“The effort involved in performing competitive intelligence is onerous,” Bilbrey says. “You can sign up for other guy’s emails and you can even buy and see what happens then, but there are so many different behaviors on the part of customers and reactions on the part of emailers that it’s difficult to do effectively.”

Return Path launched a competitive benchmarking product this week called Inbox Insight that produces competitive activity analyses by drawing on a panel of more than two million email recipients. The company also introduced two other new products that use its proprietary panel: Inbox Monitor for tracking email destinations and Email Brand Monitor to prevent criminal abuse, or “phishing,” of a brand’s domain.

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