A lack of customer data and difficulty with analyzing campaign results are the top hurdles facing email marketers, according to a recent Jupiter Research study commissioned by email service provider Silverpop.
The study polled 422 email marketers, both on the ad agency and client sides. When asked what their greatest challenges in conducting email marketing are, 34 percent of in-house marketers said a lack of customer data is the highest hurdle they face, and 32 percent struggle with analyzing campaign results.
Those same challenges are still at the top of the list, though slightly less significant, for email marketers at ad agencies, with lack of customer data named a challenge by 25 percent of respondents, and analyzing campaign results named by 26 percent.
"The ability to analyze customer data in meaningful ways is more important than ever for marketers," said Elaine O'Gorman, VP of strategy for Silverpop. "Driving Web site traffic, personalizing content and improving ROI can't happen without sufficient levels of customer data and sophisticated analysis of that data."
When shopping for an ESP, sophisticated marketers should be looking for a solution that includes customizable reporting capabilities and the ability to program recurring campaigns, O'Gorman said. Those features are important to 38 percent and 35 percent of survey respondents, respectively.
Advanced features become even more important when campaigns grow, according to the survey results. Among marketers sending more than 50,000 emails a month, customizable reporting capabilities are important to 41 percent of respondents, and recurring campaign features are important to 38 percent of those respondents.
Other features important to large marketers include campaign-triggering capabilities, cited by 35 percent of those respondents, as well as integration with other applications and access to reporting data for an unlimited period, both of which are important to 29 percent of respondents.
"As marketers move toward increasingly sophisticated email campaigns, they need increasingly sophisticated email marketing solutions that provide them with the reporting functionality and analytics needed to maximize results," O'Gorman said.
Among survey respondents, 317 are in-house marketers, and 105 are email marketers at ad agencies. Of the marketers, 38 percent currently use an in-house email marketing application from an ESP, and 15 percent plan to do so in the next 12 months. Thirty percent of in-house marketers employ an ESP directly, and 12 percent do so through an ad agency. Thirteen percent say they plan to employ an ESP directly in the next year.
Responses from agencies are not much different, with 40 percent currently using an in-house email marketing application, and 14 percent planning to do so in the next year. Thirty-three percent of agency respondents say they currently employ an ESP directly, while 11 percent say they plan to in the next year.
When in-house marketers are segmented by company size, clear differences in their usage of ESPs emerge. Among companies of 101 or more employees, 46 percent of marketers say they use an in-house app, compared to just 14 percent of marketers from smaller companies. Another 11 percent of large-company marketers plan to use an in-house app in the next 12 months, while 27 percent of small-company marketers have plans to do so.
Thirty-four percent of large-company marketers employ an ESP directly, and 19 percent of smaller ones do so. Another 10 percent of large-company marketers and 7 percent of small-company marketers plan to employ an ESP directly in the next year. Interestingly, the size of a company does not appear to affect decisions to use an ESP through an ad agency, since 16 percent of large-company marketers and 17 percent of small-company marketers are doing that.