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Social media being used in harmony with email by marketers - report

11th Mar 2010
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While marketers are using social media to enhance rather than replace email marketing campaigns, all too few are paying enough attention to the quality of customer lists or understand the returns generated by their promotional activity.

These are the findings of the fourth annual Email Marketing Industry Census undertaken among nearly 900 digital marketers between January and February this year by community-based publisher Econsultancy and email service provider Adestra.

The study indicated that email marketing now accounts for about 17% of the average digital marketing budget, up from 14% last year. Moreover, around 37% of respondents said that they now used the channel to encourage social network users to share content, while just under a third claimed that they intended to do so in future.

A fifth of respondents also employed email to persuade customers to undertake ratings and reviews, with a further 26% planning to do likewise, while 28% also said they were using video content embedded in their messages as a means of trying to engage customers more.

Henry Hyder-Smith, managing director at Adestra, said: "We are delighted to see that email is far from dying in the midst of the social media revolution. And instead of cannibalism, we are witnessing a solid partnership evolving between the two – email and social media working in harmony to fuel one another."

On the downside, however, a huge six out of ten respondents, up from 44% last year, indicated that the quality of their database was the biggest barrier to implementing an effective email marketing campaign. Despite this situation, however, only about half of that number put sorting the problem out as one of their top three priorities during 2010.

As a result, the number of companies that had issues reaching the mailboxes of intended recipients rose to 54% from 51% last year. The percentage acknowledging that not being able to deliver messages to target audiences was a barrier to success likewise increased to nearly a quarter from 13%.

Another worrying statistic, meanwhile, was that nearly one in four respondents confessed to being oblivious to the return on investment they received from email campaigns. Of those that were able to quantify the figure, however, 5% more than last year said that ROI was over 500%.

The integration of email marketing with other sales and marketing activities also remained a challenge too, with only 17% of organisations saying they were fully integrated - the same level as last year.

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