The Email Census from eConsultancy and Adestra: What You Don't Know Could Hurt You

How smart are you? Let’s see if you can answer that question by answering any of the following: How many animals was Noah told to take onto the ark? How many moons orbit the earth? How many brain cells will a pint of beer kill? How much of your marketing budgeting is lost through non-delivery of email? While most of these are mild curiosities, failing to know the answer to the latter could prove harmful to your business.

Econsultancy and Adestra‘s recent email marketing census shows just how badly informed many email marketers are when in comes to inbox placement rates and the implications of poor deliverability on performance. Nearly nine in every ten email marketers (88 per cent) do not know how much of their marketing budget is lost through non-delivery of their emails. This rate has increased year-on-year since 2009, when 82 per cent of marketers were unaware how much of their budget was lost through poor delivery rates. Those marketers that are aware of the figures set the budgetary waste at a disconcertingly large ten per cent, while agencies revise this figure even higher to 14 per cent.

Too many email marketers are still focusing on how many of their sent emails didn’t bounce, which gives them a completely false perception of the success of their email campaigns. Return Path’s latest bi-annual European Email Deliverability Benchmark Report, based on data collected from 500,000 email campaigns between January and July 2010, revealed one in every eight legitimate marketing emails goes missing entirely – not in subscribers’ spam folders or inboxes, blocked by ISPs before reaching their subscribers.

With one quarter of companies spending more than £50,000 per year on email marketing (roughly $80,000 at today’s exchange rate) it is unquestionably time to address this issue. Ignorance of the email deliverability issue could explain why the census only ranked it one step from the bottom of the list of fourteen important areas for email marketers to focus on this year. As Louise Mulligan, Head of Reed Business Information explained: “Deliverability is key to the success of any campaign. You can test and optimise as much as you like but if the data is poor and people aren’t responding then effort is wasted.”

Nearly three quarters of companies (72 per cent) regard email as good or excellent for ROI, but in times of austerity a ten per cent margin of waste is unacceptable. Deliverability must be made a top priority and the email census helps clarify the steps that are needed to address the problem of non-delivery:
Build and maintain sender reputation – take steps to preserve a good sender reputation to minimise deliverability issues.
Increase relevance to consumers – content should engage subscribers as “batch-and-blast” campaigns are more likely to get marked as spam and will cause ISPs to block all future sent emails
Ensure list hygiene – Clean up the database by removing bounces and if necessary review data collection policies and practices
Better integration – social media can help keep subscribers engaged with the brand by providing additional ways to interact.

The simplest of ideas lies at the heart of email marketing – getting a message into an inbox and read by subscribers. What marketers are failing to realise is that this requires a lot more work than it used to and the days of blasting out emails en masse are over. Staying ahead of the game means constantly adapting, improving, and being aware of the issues at the heart of your business. Not knowing that Noah was instructed to take seven pairs of each animal onto the ark, that there is a second moon called Cruithne orbiting earth, or that alcohol in fact doesn’t kill brain cells at all won’t cost you anything – but failing to pay attention to an ever increasing waste gap and the importance deliverability will play in closing that gap inevitably will.

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