Research piece on what email marketers are focusing on

We are pleased to announce that email industry heavy weight Jordie Van Rijn from Email Monday among many other well respected email marketing events, blogs and websites like email vendor selection has agreed to write a series of blogs for display block. The first of which, a research piece, is below. Please make sure you register at the bottom of our home page if you want to be informed when Jordie’s next piece is available.

This is what Email Marketers will be focussing on

There has never been a better time to start with building out your email marketing plan than right now. With that in mind it is interesting to gauge what marketers say are the top focal points for their email marketing programs.

What Email Marketers will be focussing on

Nobody can do everything at the same time so we must make choices and the right choices will lead to (more) success. This heightens the urgency of the question: what will we be focusing our email marketing efforts on? Econsultancy shows what the email marketing community answers in their census study which, reports that email is standing stronger than ever as a very effective marketing channel. These are the answers the marketers gave.


Let’s zoom in on the top 3:

Automated campaigns, 
strategy and campaign planning and 
list and data quality.

1. Automated campaigns and marketing automation

Automated campaigns are hot. Marketing automation statistics say that adoption amongst forward-thinking marketers is increasing and for good reason. A Lenskold Group study says 78% of successful marketers point to marketing automation as a prime tactic responsible for contributing to revenue improvements. If you automate the right campaigns they can bring home the bacon – even with lower email volumes.

Choosing the right automated campaigns

Choosing the right automated campaigns is one of the first steps. Did you think a birthday campaign was too corny or overused? Not at all. If it works, it works. You’re looking for high impact campaigns, the ones that increase subscriber engagement and revenues. But that is not the only thing to look for – they should not be big volume per sé, but represent enough volume to drive the leveles of response you need.

Phased approach

In terms of time investment, see your first iteration as a Minimal Lovable Product. The campaign doesn’t need to be perfect, you can enhance sophistication as you go and look at series length and optimisation. Even a basic abandoned cart mail can quickly garner results.

Higher adoption and behavioural email

Marketing automation works great in combination with behavioral email targeting. Creativity and an authentic and freshly compelling message is the only challenge nowadays because auto responders are a feature in many even low priced email marketing software tools and there are specialised email and marketing automation agencies that can help you get them realised.

2. Strategy and the art of campaign planning

Strategy is a top priority and it always has been the core of effective email marketing. Craft a strategy through an email marketing plan. Write down all your ideas. A marketing plan should be more than “let’s do exactly what we did last year and try to get the same results we did last year”. Forward-thinking marketers crave realistic ambition. 

Some plans sadly look more like a wish list of email tactics, including everything the marketer might want to do or even worse should do, but will never get around to. That is not a plan, that is a dream on paper. We have to make both the easy and the tough choices. What will enthuse management at the end of the quarter or year? A solid email marketing strategy describes that outcome in detail and offers the road to achieving it. Catch your outcomes and shape the right email marketing KPIs based on those.

 Perform a litmus test (no not that one, the other one) to see if you’re running the wise man’s errands. Management won’t care about an increase in opens if it doesn’t represent better business results so think beyond email metrics alone.

3. Up-to-data list and data quality

Clean and up-to-date data presents many benefits. Data quality can become an issue if you don’t account for deterioration. Are your contacts really still enthused by personalisation based on preferences in a survey two years ago? 

Possibly the renewed focus on data has much to do with automation because there is little automation on behaviour and profiles if the data doesn’t add up.


25% of marketers say focussing on data and list quality is a prime tactic this year, improving outcomes from their email marketing program. The source of list growth is a big predictor for the quality of your list. So the professional email marketer’s efforts in these are akin to selecting the best email list growth touchpoints.

But if your business goals are set in percentages, will list growth or quality be properly credited for its impact? Percentages for open, click and conversions are useful to spot activity trends and compare individual emails but we want to see absolute results. A 20% growth of your active file with the same quality (yes, quality is a returning topic) will simply mean a 20% lift of results (Quick win: In the footer of your emails always give the option for them to update their profile).

Get started now

Marketers intend to work on automation, strategy and list quality and these are good areas to focus on. It is for the first time that automation has knocked strategy off the top spot, which can be explained by the popular rise of the topic. The runners-up are very close so in my next article I will look further into the insight that measurement and analytics can bring along with segmentation and delivering relevant communications.

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant has a love for coffee and well executed email and marketing automation strategies in the morning. With over a decade of experience, brands like KLM, Unilever and Eurail turn to him for advice.