News | Published June 06 2021

DMA report: Email marketing budgets and ROI increase amid the Covid-19 pandemic

According to the latest Marketer Email Tracker 2021 report, created by the Data & Marketing Association [DMA] in partnership with Validity, the average proportion of marketing budgets spent on email has passed the 20 per cent mark for the first time, having hit 21.3 per cent of marketing spend.

Just under half of businesses now spend over 20 per cent of their marketing budget on email [45 per cent], the highest proportion on record since the DMA started the annual email tracking series in 2015.

This year, marketers estimate email’s return on investment [ROI] to be £38.33 for every £1 spent – a figure that has risen steadily from £29.64 in 2016.

Email is also shown to be the most used channel by brands to engage with consumers across the customer journey [72 per cent of marketers stated this], followed by social media [66 per cent] and online ads [59 per cent].

Tim Bond, Head of Insight at the DMA, commented: “The various restrictions in place throughout the year appear to have benefitted email, not least that budgets appear to have been directed [or re-directed] to email while other channels were not available. Despite pandemic conditions, most marketers report positive trends for various key email performance metrics too.

“Overall, the latest figures continue to paint a positive picture for email, proving its value to businesses during a year where virtual communication has been essential for brand survival. It remains the most relied upon channel for nearly two-thirds of brands across the customer journey, while delivering a return on investment that has continued to increase as well.”

Marketing objectives shift, creating fresh challenges

The focus on sales as an objective for email marketing fell from 31 per cent a year ago to just 24 per cent this year, according to the report. Meanwhile, those primarily using email campaigns for customer service has risen from nine per cent to 13 per cent year-on-year.

The challenges that marketers face have seen notable shifts too. Concerns around the lack of data, access to it, or its quality [stated by 52 per cent] have significantly increased year-on-year [up 10 per cent from 2020’s report], even overtaking budget/resources for the first time [52 per cent] – albeit by less than one per cent. The percentage of marketers citing issues around marketing technology also rose to 38 per cent this year, up by 14 per cent from last year’s figure.

Guy Hanson, Deputy Chair of DMA Email Council & Vice President of Customer Engagement, Validity International, added: “It’s good to see email marketing budgets continuing to increase, but concerning that marketers are struggling more than ever with data and technology challenges. High quality data – that is accurate, up to date, and aligned with the purpose for which it was collected – means companies can create relevant messaging that builds stronger relationships and delivers increased value. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to not neglect investment in this precious resource, as well as the talent and technology that utilise it.”

To read more about the DMA’s new research, visit the DMA website here

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
June 06 2021

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