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5 things you need to know about the state of Email Marketing

November 30 - 2021

Email Marketing Strategy 5 min read

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Whilst it might seem as if our calendars are playing tricks on us, 2021 is very nearly done and dusted. The year-end provides a fitting opportunity to look back, reflect, and perhaps chuckle at those New Year's resolutions that evaded us. 

The period of reflection extends to the world of email. As always, the experts at Litmus have delivered their 'State of Email Report' looking at the current state of the industry and key trends to pay attention to. 

From advanced automation and personalisation through to better testing, the report highlights key areas where small tweaks can have a big impact on the success of your email marketing campaigns.

Here's our five most notable takeaways:

1. Email has never been more important

As a channel, there have been no signs of email marketing slowing down following the boom we saw in 2020. 

In 2019, 32.2% of brands classified email marketing as "very critical" to company success. This number increased substantially in 2020 to 39.8%. This increase was attributed to the pandemic as marketers turned to email marketing as the most effective way of communicating and building relationships with their customers.  

Those who figured this increase would be temporary, due to lockdowns associated with COVID-19, have been proven wrong. 

The number increased even further in 2021 to the point where 41.5% of brands now see email marketing as very critical. Email's adaptability and reach continues to prove the channel's importance and effectiveness.

2. Marketers are underprepared for Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) 

Apple's Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) has been the talk of the email industry for much of 2021. Its introduction in September has brought about many questions on how it will impact email marketing specifically. It's a hot topic and you can read our full analysis on the subject here.

In a nutshell, for anyone who has MPP installed, all emails sent to Apple devices, read using native email apps, will show as 100% opened - therefore rendering open rates useless. Whilst takeup at the moment is limited, we expect that to only increase as time goes on.

In spite of this, many marketers are not making changes to their email programmes (24%), with an even higher percentage "not sure" on whether they will make changes (26%).

Those that are ahead of the curve - and are changing the metrics they are most focused on - are likely to reap the rewards down the line. Those that are choosing to ignore MPP could find their knowledge of their email marketing performance diminishing as takeup increases.

3. You're not standing out from the crowd with basic personalisation

There was a time where personalising emails based on the subscriber's first name was enough to stand out from the crowd - it's safe to say that is no longer the case. 

Four in five respondents stated that they use some form of basic data in order to personalise their emails (first name, company name, or other profile data). This is an increase from 72% in 2020.

Whilst some personalisation is, in most instances, better than no personalisation at all, the widespread nature of the tactic is somewhat numbing subscribers. The good news is that other forms of personalisation can bring great rewards and are, at present, much more underutilised. 

For instance, whilst 80% are using basic profile data to personalise, just 34% are using past purchase. Two thirds of those surveyed are potentially missing out on repeat business as a result of neglecting personalisation.

First name personalisation still has a place in the world of email marketing but now is the time to look for opportunities above and beyond this. 

4. Testing plans aren't widespread

'How do I improve my email marketing?' - it's a question we're regularly asked but the answer is not always straightforward. Granted, there are some tips that every brand in the world should endeavour to listen to but a lot of success in email marketing is specific to the company. What gives one company an uplift in click through rate might not work at all for another company. 

With this in mind, it's crucial to understand your database and what tactics work and don't work. The easiest way to achieve this? Test, test, test. 

If you're unsure whether a CTA button will work in the lead image, the easiest way to find out is to test it on a campaign. Send 50% of the database the version with the CTA and send the other 50% the other version. Results can then inform the decision on where you take your email marketing in future. 

It's perhaps a surprise then to see that 55% of those surveyed either rarely do split tests or don't do them at all. Improved results could be on the horizon, but without taking that leap of faith to try out something new, there's no opportunity to progress.

5. Brands are missing out by neglecting Basket/Browse Abandonment emails

Automated sends are fantastic. 

Set up the campaign, configure the automation and let them run. Provided they've been set up well, they can yield high returns with minimal effort required. 

The good news is the stats indicate that our view of automation is shared by many others. Of those brands surveyed, 83% utilise automated welcome emails and a further 68% use automated post-purchase emails. 

Seeing adoption rates so high amongst these two types of automated sends is encouraging but we can't help but think there's more that can be done here and those brands that aren't taking automation further than the above might be missing out. 

Basket/Browse abandonment emails are some of the most effective campaigns in the email marketing world. The reality is that in today's hectic world, online shopping baskets are frequently abandoned. Sometimes it's a conscious decision on the consumer's part but it can also be innocently forgotten about. 

It seems like a no-brainer to try and recuperate some of that lost income with an email reminder but just 38% of brands surveyed are utilising them right now. That's a lot of companies that are losing income without so much as a fight to reclaim a portion of it.

To summarise, email marketing has never been in better health. As a marketing channel, email demonstrates time and again its value and importance in delivering the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

It can be used to drive sales, build relationships, put you ahead of the competition, maximise your other marketing efforts and more besides.

That being said, the report from Litmus shows huge numbers of businesses are only just scratching the surface of email marketing's potential.

By working smarter and implementing small changes, you can take your email marketing to a whole new level. If you'd like to find out how to do this and make your email marketing in 2022 better than it's ever been before, then we'd love to hear from you. Talk to us today.

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