Digital Marketers Are Bullish — But Not On Email, Study Finds

Digital Marketers Are Bullish — But Not On Email, Study Finds

by Ray Schultz , February 14, 2018

Digital marketers are growing in confidence, with 98% seeing themselves as successful and 57% who feel they are best in class, according to 2018 Digital Marketing Plans for Best-in-Class Success, a study by Adestra with Ascend2.

In addition, almost all are increasing their digital spends this year to some degree. But email ranks near the bottom as an effective part of the 2018 digital plan, although it is also seen as the easiest tactic to execute.

Of those polled, only 31% feel that email is a “most effective” part of their digital marketing plan this year. Only data management ranks lower, with 28% seeing it as effective going into 2018.

In contrast, search media marketing is first, at 53%. Next is marketing technology 51%. Content marketing is third (42%) and search engine optimization fourth (42%). Search and social ads are rated highly by only 31%.

Why is email in the basement? It may be because it is mature enough to be understand, and that newer channels are still being explored.

“Email isn’t perhaps the ‘sexiest’ vertical to come to the party, but it certainly works the hardest and has proven results when it comes to ROI,” says Melanie White, head of content and communications for Adestra.

She adds, “Most marketers that do email well already know the effective gains that this channel brings, which is why a less mature channel such as social is in the spotlight. As marketers are still trying to understand the most tactical ways to use social, they benefit more and more in its results.”

Meanwhile, email is classified as a difficult tactic to execute by only 23%–last in a field of seven. Data management is described as tough by 47%, and marketing technology by 47%.

That said, the respondents are high on digital overall. Of those polled, 56% say their budgets will increase significantly this year, and 40% say they will go up marginally. Only 4% foresee a decrease.

The most important strategic objectives are to:

  1. Increase lead generation — 48%
  2. Increase sales revenue — 45%
  3. Improve brand awareness — 44%
  4. Improve user experience — 43%
  5. Increase website traffic — 40%
  6. Improve data quality — 35%

The critical challenges are in different order:

  1. User experience — 46%
  2. Data quality — 45%
  3. Lead generation — 41%
  4. Brand awareness — 39%
  5. Website traffic — 38%
  6. Sales revenue — 32%

How does one account for these disparities? 

Objectives that are significantly more important than they are challenging — such as increasing sales revenue — are more likely to be achieved, than those that are significantly more challenging than they are important to achieve, such as improving data quality.

Meanwhile, here is the full list of the most difficult tactics to execute:

  • Data management — 47%
  • Marketing technology — 46%
  • Search engine optimization — 43%
  • Content marketing — 42%
  • Social media marketing — 30%
  • Search and social ads — 27%
  • Email marketing — 24%

In conclusion, White notes that “the data highlights the ongoing need for marketers to invest in talent, technology and data quality in order to maintain success in the long term.”

But she adds that “investments require more than a line item in the department budget. They need marketers to truly invest their time and efforts into the work that they are doing, so they build knowledge and expertise.”

And email?

“Of course, email should play an important role in any marketing plan. It has proven time and time again that it isn’t just a desirable channel to have, when done right, it really works in getting astonishing results.  

The study was conducted online from a panel of marketing influencers and research subscribers. Search Marketing Daily