Email’s ROI increases, despite concerns about testing and GDPR

Amid worries about the testing and the incoming GDPR, email continues to show strong results for every pound spent on it, according to the DMA’s latest research

Email marketing’s return on investment (ROI) is up to £32.28 for every £1 spent, from £30.03 the previous year. According to the DMA’s Marketer email tracker 2018 report, sponsored by dotmailer, half of marketers (50%) are now confident they can accurately calculate this ROI figure, while just one in five (19%) believe they can determine the lifetime value of an email address to their business.

The positive outlook for email was shared by Skip Fidura, Strategy & Insight Director at dotmailer and Chair of the DMA’s Responsible marketing committee, who said: “Like consumers, marketers still love email and we love it because it works. All the standard process metrics, open rates, click rates and most importantly conversion rates are up. This is in turn driving up ROI.”

However, when it comes to the staple email testing, a surprising one in five (19%) of marketers say their organisation has no competence at all, with a further 15% saying they don’t conduct any tests on the emails they send to customers – almost double the 8% last year. There was also a strong correlation between those not segmenting their audience and those reporting little to no active email testing happening in their business.

The testing figures will surprise many in the industry, as Skip Fidura points out: “Email makes it so easy to test new tactics, copy creative and offers that this should be as business as usual as adding in a subject line.”

GDPR approaches

As new regulation approaches, the research highlights how marketers are still unsure of the impact the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will have on their email marketing programmes, with 36% feeling positive and 43% feeling negative. However, preparedness for the GDPR coming into force remains high, with 72% of email marketers saying they are at least somewhat prepared.

Discussing both the challenges and the opportunities GDPR presents to marketers across many channels, Rachel Aldighieri, MD at the DMA, said: “By placing the customer at the heart of your business, we can ensure consumers receive the timely and relevant communications they crave. In doing this, marketers will be able to go beyond simply adhering to the new rules and engage customers in an honest and transparent way. Enabling them to foster long-term relationships and increased loyalty, creating an environment where both the business and customer can benefit.”

In the past year the biggest single challenge to marketers and their email programmes, however, has been the re-emergence of limited to internal resources (39%), representing a return to 2015 levels after a brief decline last year. This was followed by limited budget (24%), inefficient internal processes (23%), lack of data (23%) and a lack of strategy (22%). Although this spike in feeling under-resourced could, in part, be connected to the other concerns around inefficiencies and lack of strategy, as well as concerns around preparations to ensure compliance with GDPR. It could also be a challenge brought about by the rapid increase in outdated in-house technology, which is now a barrier for 17% of marketers, up from just 11% two years ago.

Marcfus Gearey, Chair of the DMA Email Council’s research hub & Analytics Manager at Zeta Global believes there is clearly both opportunity and challenges ahead for marketers, but that email will continue to lead the way: “Email is still at the forefront of consumer marketing and both sides seem largely happy this is so. But marketers should be careful not to be complacent, they would be wise to learn from the principles of the GDPR’s inspiration and codify their own best practice for email to maintain its position as the pre-eminent marketing channel.”

To read more about the DMA’s Marketer email tracker research, including the full report, visit: