September 10, 2003

2003 Email Metrics Survey: 2,327 Marketers Report Opens & Clicks Still Strong Despite Spam

SUMMARY: Thanks to all of you who took our 2nd Annual Email Metrics Survey last week. The project is truly a community-effort -- marketers sharing data with each other.

The most fascinating revelation was that almost everyone is planning to test landing page tweaks to improve results. In fact landing page tests will be a top item on a lot of marketers' 2004 budgets.

Here's the Survey Results Overview for you.
We don't want to see one more media mention or discussion group query about the so-called "death of email advertising." Because, guess what?

According to 2,327 marketers in-the-field who reported their data in last week's MarketingSherpa Email Metrics Survey, email is not dead yet. Not even close to dying. (Not even coughing a little.) In fact,

o Only 6% of marketers say their open rates for house lists have "decreased significantly", while 15% say they've actually "increased significantly".

o Just 5% of marketers say their click rates for links sent to house lists have decreased, while 18% say clicks have increased.

o The majority of marketers who track rented list performance say that they have seen "not a big change" in both opens and clicks over the past 12 months.

This data shows that permission email is here to stay as a viable tactic. Despite spam overload, despite false positive and filter fears, despite everything.

How could results be so contrary to everyone's expectations, even the marketers themselves? We discovered two factors that are almost certainly responsible for much of email's continued success -- significantly increased measurement and testing.

-> Increased measurement

It appears that many marketers have at long last gotten
measurement religion. (Or perhaps just at last a budget with which to invest in measurement software.)

Year over year comparisons from MarketingSherpa's 2002 and 2003 Surveys show the ranks of marketers who don't track clicks were reduced from 28% to 19%. Marketers who don't track open rates were reduced from 39-19.5% for B-to-C and 51% to 29% for B-to-B.

So, last year up to 50% of marketers using email didn't track the data they would need to improve results. This year the non-tracking losers are down to as little as 1/5th of the marketing population.

-> Increased testing

You can only improve email results if you are able to test
tactics and learn from the metrics. However, in the past many marketers (and email agencies) have had a tough time arguing for the extra funds to run tests.

The marketers who were able to run tests reported the following tests yielded such significant results in terms of useful variances in response rates, that the tests were worth investing in:

74% said landing page tests had proven worthwhile
73.5% said subject line tests were worth it
70% said HTML vs text tests were worth it
63% said personalization with a name was worth testing
59% said long copy vs short copy was worth it

-> Landing pages are the big frontier

Did you notice above that landing pages were the most worthwhile element to test? Survey results also revealed that landing pages were the #1 item marketers not testing today hoped to test in future. Plus, 62% of marketers said they planned to increase spending to create campaign-specific landing pages next year.

So, the hottest thing in email today isn't the email itself - it's the place you send clicks to.

Frankly we feel this trend is right on the money. Marketers have spent the past five years finding out what works in email. Now it's time to close the loop and get the most from each response and/or reader.

And, it's this self-professed trend that makes us feel pretty sure that even if opens and clicks do fall significantly someday, the tests marketers plan for 2004 will help maximize campaign ROI enough that email will continue to be a highly viable tactic.

Note: We'd like to thank everyone who took the survey last week. We hope you are able to use this data to fight for and win the budget for email you need.

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