As Marketers Embrace New Tactics, Experian Studies Find Email Is Still King

Experian Data Quality has released the results of its State of Data Quality survey, which found that despite changes made by various email service providers (ESPs) this year, email remained the top channel for marketers. While the advent of Google's Gmail tabs, which move certain marketing messages out of users' primary inboxes and file them under a Promotions tab, threatened some marketers, most were unphased. Eighty-seven percent of the companies surveyed continued to conduct their marketing campaigns as before, according to the study.

"Email is still a hugely important channel when it comes to marketing," Beatriz Santin, senior director of marketing and product at Experian Data Quality, a data quality services provider, says. "Though email marketing has had to adapt to changes within the channel and the growth of other channels such as mobile, it remains one of the best ways to reach customers, and marketers are continuing to rely on this evolving yet effective method," she adds.

According to Experian, a combination of new and existing trends has contributed to the longevity of email marketing. Personalization, for example, continues to play a crucial role in its success, Experian Marketing Services, Experian Data Quality's parent organization, revealed in a recent related study.

Personalized promotional mailings have 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates than nonpersonalized mailings, while personalized triggered mailings have 25 percent higher unique open rates and 51 percent higher unique click rates. Furthermore, the second study showed that personalized trigger campaigns result in transaction rates that are twice as high as those of nonpersonalized trigger mailings.

Though personalization has proven to make a major difference, it nevertheless presents a set of challenges. "For personalization to be as effective as it has the potential to be, the data that's being used to personalize campaigns has to be accurate. Our results showed that out of the eighty-seven percent of companies that use email marketing, sixty-seven percent report deliverability problems," Santin says, referring to the data quality study. The deliverability problems, Santin explains, can be attributed to a range of causes. Out-of-date or inconsistent data, for example, is often to blame, as well as a lack of a centralized approach to data quality. "If you're sending a personalized email to an email address that's not being used anymore, you may as well not send it," she says.

New tactics have made an impact on email marketing as well, enabling the channel to overcome some of the challenges posed by ESPs, as well as the growth of mobile. To fill the void created by customers that have chosen to ignore the content that winds up in their Promotions, marketers have adopted a more proactive approach to securing new prospects—45 percent of marketers use pop-up windows on their Web sites to collect email addresses, representing a 107 percent increase from last year, according to Experian Marketing Services' findings. To respond to the growth of mobile, marketers have also increasingly begun embracing responsive design within email campaigns, a technology that automatically adjusts emails to the user's screen. Since 2012, the rate of responsive design use has doubled, Experian Marketing Services reports.

"Even as a consumer, it's clear that mobile is changing the way people interact with email, and I think marketers are very aware of that," Santin says. "But even with mobile, and with other changes taking place, email marketing is still on top, and that's what's important."

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