Email Marketing: Industry Research and Trends Reports

25 email marketing facts, industry predictions and best practice advice to help small business ecommerce site owners cash in on email marketing trends.

Despite rising popularity of social media, there is still a lot of mileage left in traditional email marketing.  Current research and trends indicate that small businesses need to integrate email marketing efforts with and social media (see research) and mobile marketing (see this research) and also have a method for quantifying email marketing ROI.

The following email marketing research and statistics are from trusted industry sources and experts in the field of retail and electronic commerce.

6 Email Marketing Tactics, Testing and Optimization Reports

From video email marketing to testing campaigns and segmenting your list, these email marketing research reports will help you optimize your email marketing.

  • Testing and optimization practices are an extremely efficient means to increase email performance. One of the more interesting discoveries was that the most popular testing elements were not always the most effective. Two of the least-tested elements, landing page and target audience, were found to be the most effective elements to test. (Source: MarketingSherpa; 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report)
  • 32 percent of responding companies carry out regular testing for email marketing. One quarter of organizations say they infrequently carry out testing, while 13 percent don't test at all. (Source: Econsultancy, Adestra; Email Marketing Industry Census 2011)
  • While segmenting an email list by purchasing behaviors, funnel-stage and user-declared preferences have proved successful. Marketers need to continue to listen and look for shifts in consumer lifestyles. Forty-nine percent of marketers in this survey said they could not segment their email lists based on viewer device habits. (Source: MarketingSherpa; 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report)
  • Small businesses are overwhelmed by the number of digital direct marketing channels now available to them. In a recent survey conducted by, 79 percent of respondents felt that they weren't making full use of the online marketing channels available to them. (Source:; Survey Results)
  • More than 65 percent of marketers believe that video email marketing can have a moderate or significant influence on conversion rates. In particular, marketers who have already used video emails recognize the benefits on overall email marketing results. Almost 64 percent of those marketers claim that it results in significant rate increases. (Source: Getresponse; Email Marketing Trends Survey)

5 Email Marketing Trends and Customer Expectations

A lot of emphasis is placed on email marketing content, but how you create and manage the subscriber list is equally important. The following reports will help you plan a solid email marketing strategy that will encourage consumers.

  • With the increased use of social media and location-based marketing, email recipients' expectations have risen. Consumers are no longer willing to accept generic email blasts that show up in their inbox. Today, customers and prospects demand relevant emails to help them solve a problem. They expect to be able to respond to a person, not a, and are very selective in the type of emails they receive, from coupons and new products, to communications from the CEO. (Source: MarketingSherpa; 2011 Email Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook)
  • Email marketing plays a critical role in driving customers to the daily deals being offered by companies like Groupon, LivingSocial, HauteLook and Zulily. However, with more than 650 daily deal sites in the U.S. alone, email marketers at these companies need to leverage the channel more effectively than ever before to stand out from the inbox clutter and to build brand loyalty. (Source: StrongMail; How Daily Deal Sites Capitalize On Email Marketing)
  • Several marketing tactics are worth highlighting either for their newness or their volatility. There is strong interest in retargeting due to performance, and this is not surprising given these results reported by one retailer: We are seeing a 5 percent click-through on retargeting and remarketing versus straight advertising at 2 percent. Initially these retargeted efforts were seen by some as creepy where merchants were following customers. This concern rarely applies where a willingness to test is pervasive, knowing that retargeting is "targetable, checkable and attributable," according to one merchant. (Source: Bronto Software/Bronto Software; Surviving the Current Market Mania with a Solid 2012 Plan)
  • Small businesses that combine email marketing with social media marketing are more successful with their marketing campaigns. From June 2010 through August 2011, those using both social media and email marketing saw 14.43 percent list growth, while those using only email marketing saw 8.96 percent list growth. (Source: Constant Contact)
  • The Future of Email report identifies and explains how marketers and brands can achieve this by leveraging eight communications trends to improve email campaigns, generate brand advocacy and increase marketing ROI. The eight trends highlighted in the report include: mobile communications, social media, the social inbox, social currency, shopper marketing, location-based marketing, millennials and social gaming. (Source: Lyris; The Future of Email)

10 Email Marketing Budgets and ROI Research

Email marketing applications will generate reports that clearly identify who is interacting with a marketing campaign, and this opens up opportunities for targeted follow-ups to figure out whether you should spend extra time marketing to them. The following reports discuss effective email marketing strategies and how to produce a greater ROI (return on investment).

  • 72 percent of companies’ surveyed rate email marketing as excellent (26 percent) or good (46 percent) in terms of return on investment. Apart from search engine optimization, this is higher than any other marketing channel. (Source: Econsultancy, Adestra; Email Marketing Industry Census 2011)
  • Marketers report their biggest barrier to success is "inadequate staffing resources and expertise" but there is some positive news: 67 percent of organizations expect to increase their email budgets in 2012. (Source: MarketingSherpa; 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report)
  • Marketers that use email in combination with social segmentation drive six times the amount of revenue than those marketers that do not connect social and email segmentation. Moreover, marketers who leverage both social and email data deliver monthly marketing campaign profits that are seven times higher than their unsophisticated peers. (Source: The Relevancy Group; Driving the ROI of Email and Social Marketing)
  • The data reveals an optimistic marketing outlook, with half of businesses planning to increase marketing budgets and another 43 percent keeping them steady. Additionally, for the second year in a row, email marketing and social media marketing remain the top targets for increased spend. (Source: Zoomerang/StrongMail; 2011 Marketing Trends Survey)
  • Today, CMOs expect email to provide a financial return on investment. Sixty-eight percent of surveyed marketers did not have a method for quantifying email marketing ROI. It is disappointing, but not surprising, that almost seven of 10 marketers do not have a method to measure ROI. (Source: MarketingSherpa; 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report)
  • Merchants are moderately prepared to deploy engaging messages in a timely fashion where most rolled a score of 6 out of 10 on our readiness scale. They realize that smart decision-making is predicated on data and tools to take their marketing to the next level and therefore most do not find themselves in a perfect state. (Source: Bronto Software/Bronto Software; Surviving the Current Market Mania with a Solid 2012 Plan)
  • According to StrongMail’s survey, 46 percent of businesses have already implemented some form of lifecycle email program. Of those not currently running programs, 58 percent plan to in the next 24 months. Lifecycle marketing is defined as profiling a customer's relationships with a company or brand over time in order for marketers to reach them more effectively with multi-stage, event-triggered messaging. (Source: StrongMail; 2011 Lifecycle Email Marketing Survey)
  • A recent study on the ROI of Email Relevance by JupiterResearch found that engaging your audience in more relevant communications can increase net profits on average 18 times more than broadcast mailings. Additionally, relevant email generates 16 times more improvement in net profits. (Source: Campaigner; Driving ROI Through Email Relevance)
  • MarketingSherpa’s research showed that more than 89 percent of email marketers find email to be an effective tactic for increasing sales revenue, improving customer retention and driving website traffic. (Source: MarketingSherpa; 2011 Email Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook)
  • Research shows that 44 percent of marketers rate email marketing ROI as the most significant challenge to email marketing effectiveness in 2011, and 68 percent mention targeting recipients with highly relevant content. (Source: MarketingSherpa; GetResponse via MarketWire)

4 More Email Marketing Tips and Advice

From beginner guides to expert tips, our selection of email marketing tips and articles can help you to better manage your small business marketing tasks.

Recommended Reading: Is social media marketing on your to-do list? Check out the highlights from 21 expert social media research reports to help you plan your strategy.

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to She is also managing editor of You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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