Email Marketing and Marketing Automation in 2017 [Free Report]

What’s the current state of email marketing? What are the common trends, opportunities, and challenges marketers like you and I are facing? This report aims to answer these and other questions we’ve all been asking ourselves.

Purpose of the study

Just over a year ago, we published two reports – the State of Email Marketing 2015, and the State of Email Marketing by Industry 2016.

We tried to explore the ins and outs of email – how effective it was in terms of generating ROI, how marketers allocated their budgets compared to other digital channels, and what tactics were used across all the different industries.

We learned a lot in the process. But aside from getting answers to some of our questions, we ended up with even more questions.

  • Are marketers shifting towards more sophisticated, automated campaigns?
  • Are they increasing efforts to target their audience with more relevant content?
  • How are they integrating email with their content marketing campaigns? 

Seeing no better way to find the right answers, we decided to explore this topic. That’s why we teamed up with Smart Insights, Holistic Email Marketing, and Content Marketing Institute and conducted an entirely new, 2017 edition of the study.


Research findings

Let’s start off with what we found out. If you’re curious as to how we conducted the study and who participated in it, you’ll find the answers a bit later on.

So what did we learn? Here are some of our findings:

    1.  Email marketing is the best performing online marketing channel: 53.6% of marketers rate its effectiveness as either excellent or good. Second came social media marketing (50.9%), and search engine optimization (45%) ended up marketing and marketing automation excellence
    2. The situation isn’t as optimistic when it comes to tracking email marketing efforts. Fewer than 15% of marketers use mid (e.g. form-fills) or low funnel (e.g. sales) metrics as their primary metrics. This means they’re unable to clearly see the business outcome of their email marketing beyond the email click.
    3. 2017 looks promising in terms of budgeting for email marketing: 58% of businesses are planning to increase their investment in this channel in the following months. Just over one-third (35%) are satisfied with their current investment level and want their email budget to remain the same in the year marketing and marketing automation excellence
    4. 65.5% of marketers use basic automation cycles such as welcome or onboarding sequences. Almost one-third (32.8%) use basic profile-based targeting, and 25.4% personalize their communication using dynamic content. More advanced techniques such as lead scoring were practiced only by 11.8% of survey participants.
    5. Three main challenges to adopting marketing automation are: securing the budget (36.10%), the quality of customer data (35.30%), and the knowledge how to set up different types of marketing automation elements (e.g. rules, lead scoring) (35.20%). The lack of buy-in from senior managers was considered a top challenge by only 15.10% of marketers.


But that’s not all. You can see the full story by downloading the Email Marketing and Marketing Automation Excellence 2017 report below.

email marketing and marketing automation excellence report 2017 You can also watch our last week’s webinar recording where the author of the report Dr. Dave Chaffey comments on the research findings and proposes his 10 steps to email marketing and marketing automation excellence.



Now for those of you who are more interested in how we did it. Because of the scope of the research and the location of marketers around the world, we decided to conduct the study online.

We created an online survey that was completed by a total of 2,510 marketers in January 2017. The participants consisted of Smart Insights members, GetResponse customers, and Content Marketing Institute and Holistic Email Marketing subscribers.

So who exactly were these people?

The respondents came from a full range of industry sectors. The main sectors included: online marketing (23%), retailers, financial services, B2B companies and agencies, and marketing service providers.

41.8% stated they focused on business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, 19.1% on business-to-business (B2B) marketing, and 39.1% managed both B2C and B2B.

When it comes to the email list size, 4 in 10 (39%) had 1 to 2,000 subscribers, and 15% of respondents had between 2,001 and 10,000 contacts in their database. Almost 3 in 10 (27%) didn’t have a database currently.


Your comments

Thanks to the study findings we were able to confirm some of our beliefs and expectations, especially regarding the adoption of more sophisticated techniques including advanced segmentation or marketing automation as a whole.
At the same time, I’m confident that just as the last time, the report itself will not only provide us all with answers, but more importantly – it will start a discussion. And that’s exactly what I’d like to invite you to do. Let me know what you think, here in the comment section or by posting your feedback via social media using the hashtag #EmailExcellence2017.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and comments! Who knows, maybe your idea will inspire us to conduct another study in the future?

Enjoy the read and let us know what you think!

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