April 18, 2016

Email Research Chart: Which campaign types are most used and effective?

SUMMARY: While email in general is a popular communication method with consumers, email campaign effectiveness varies widely across different types of campaigns. This week, we look at the usage and effectiveness of different email campaign types and how marketers can prepare for using the most effective campaigns.
by Dr. Liva LaMontagne , Editorial Research Manager

Email is one of the top communication methods that customers want marketers to use and also a favorite among marketers. Still, not all email campaigns are equally effective.

From newsletters, opt-ins and event invitations to more sophisticated campaign types like loyalty programs and social selling, there is a lot of variance in levels of campaign effectiveness.

This week, we look at the most used and effective email campaign types, and how marketers can tackle the challenges associated with the most effective types.


Salesforce Research conducted a survey in 2016, with a panel of 3,975 marketers — including Salesforce clients — who hold leadership roles in their organizations across U.S., Canada, Brazil, U.K., France, Germany, Netherlands, the Nordics, Japan, and Australia. The participating marketers represented B2C (26%), B2B (29%), and B2B2C sectors (45%).

The researchers asked participants who used email as part of their marketing strategy to rate the effectiveness of each of the campaign types is and whether they currently used it.

View Chart Online

Click to see a larger, printable version of the chart

In the chart above, campaign types are sorted by usage from most to least popular. The five most commonly used email campaign types are newsletter (64%), email subscription (63%), email opt-in (63%), event or invitation (59%) and re-engagement (57%).

However, the five most effective rated campaign types are loyalty (79%), exclusive deals (78%), social selling (77%), promotional content (77%) and mobile opt-in (76%).

Why do marketers tend to overuse the tactics they rate as less effective and to underuse the tactics they rate as most effective? Further, how can they overcome the barriers holding them back from using the most effective tactics more often?

Easy execution vs. customer focus

Brian Carroll, Chief Evangelist of MECLABS Institute, the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa, and author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale (McGraw-Hill) shared the following potential reasons why the disconnect exists between marketers' judgments of effectiveness of campaign types and their practices.

For instance, marketers can put together newsletters and opt-in landing pages quickly in their automation platforms: "I would say that it's low-hanging fruit, it's easier to do and execute because it doesn't involve cross-functional teams," Carroll said.

On the opposite end of the ease-of-execution continuum, loyalty campaigns require the marketing team to get internal alignment: "It's often confusing who owns the customer when it comes to loyalty programs. Is it marketing? Is it sales? Is it account services? Customer [or] client support? There's so many factors really," Carroll said. "It takes a lot more time developing a strategy, then getting alignment around it, and then finally executing it."

Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist, Salesforce, stressed the importance of cross-functional collaboration, too. Based on the company's research, he stated that high-performing marketers are better at collaborating across departments and integrating sales with marketing to create a holistic view of the customer journey. They also tend to invest in a CRM platform instead of manually transferring insights between channels. In addition, Afshar noted that high-performing marketers tend to invest in data science talent and use predictive intelligence to personalize email.

Advice for marketers

So how can marketers use the most effective email campaign tactics more often? Afshar and Carroll offered the following three main points of advice:
  • Gain buy-in — Communicate "why, what and how" across the departments involved.
    "Build bridges early and often. The key is to get everyone involved in customer success and retention to develop your loyalty strategy. … This takes time and it's not a one and done process," said Carroll.

  • Use a CRM system to share insights and create a single view of the customer. According to Afshar, this also allows high-performing marketing teams to create unique content in real-time, uniting email, social and text

  • Be a trusted advisor to the customer — Be social, be data-driven, use technology.
    "Become more agile and fluid. The speed of conversations is increasing. Can you cut red tape without increasing risk? Can you empower your people to use their authentic voice? They need to be empowered and feel that they can respond quickly before a conversation moves on without them," Carroll said.

Related resources

Subscribe to MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week — Get data and discoveries delivered to your inbox

2016 State of Marketing Report [From Salesforce Research]

Lead Generation for the Complex Sale [By Brian Carroll]

Email Marketing: 5 actionable tips and tactics from your peers at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016

Marketing Research Chart: How Millennials and Baby Boomers want to receive updates and promotions

Marketing Research: Tactics marketers use to reach customers who are on the go

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