Email continues to be the leading marketing strategy according to the ‘Marketer Email Tracker 2021’ survey conducted by Validity through DMA.

The report shows that 72% of brands used email to connect with their customers, ahead of social media (66%), and online ads (59%).

Previous data from the ‘Consumer Email Tracker’ revealed that 92% of consumers thought email communication from brands served their needs, by far the highest of any method, indicating that despite being most used, email may still be underutilised by marketers.

The objective of email marketing has shifted somewhat in the past year.

While sales is still the most common objective (24%) of email marketing, it has fallen 7% since last year, with engagement (15%) building relationship/loyalty (16%) and lead nurturing (6%) showing the most growth.

Validity vice-president for Asia-Pacific Tunc Bolluk said that effective email marketing is increasingly about more than just content.

“From speaking with businesses and analysing best-practice programs throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen that many of the best performing email campaigns have been less a result of what they’ve had to say or offer and more to do with how they’ve said it,” he noted.

“Messages that communicate compassion, empathy and understanding have been particularly well-received.”

This is reflected in the effectiveness of different email content according to marketers.

While discounts and offers remain the most effective (48%), confirmation messages (32%), competitions (32%), access to benefits (24%), and triggered emails (16%), have all experienced growth.

The report also highlights misconceptions held by marketers about their customers, who, for the first time, value relevance (55%) above offers (53%) as the primary reason for liking emails they receive.

More than half (59%) of marketers think the emails they send are relevant but only 15% of consumers agree they are receiving relevant content.

There is also a significant disparity between the percentage of emails marketers believe their customers open (51%), and the amount they actually do (38%).

“Both of these figures flag an interesting disconnect between marketers and consumers, with many marketers clearly living in a bit of a fool’s paradise when it comes to how their email campaigns are really performing,” Bolluk said.

Marketers expressed concerns about utilising email data effectively with 17% believing they don’t have the skills to utilise multi-channel integrations.

Continuing a several year trend, email marketing budgets continued to increase in the 2021 survey.

The average percentage of marketing spent on email surpassed 20% for the first time (21.3%), nearly double the 2018 low (10.9%), with 56% of respondents believing their email budget will continue to increase.

Bolluk believes email marketing still provides a huge opportunity.

“The statistics tell us that investment is well worth it, despite the challenges that retailers have faced in the last year, as the ROI for email marketing continues to increase year-on-year, achieving an ROI of 38:1 in 2021.”