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The 2015 Email Marketing Landscape Described in 16 Stats

In the world of a B2B marketer, one of the most exciting times of the year is when the previous year’s benchmark data is released. It’s not often that you get the chance to nerd out over new data showcasing the progress of your industry. Most importantly, having benchmark data gives you a better perspective on how your own efforts are performing. Are your metrics trending above the average for your industry? Tout your success! But if you’re not quite up to par, start turning your attention to those areas that need improvement.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud just released their 2015 State of Marketing Report, a survey of over 5,000 marketers that takes an all-inclusive look at the B2B and B2C marketing landscape in the areas of social media, email marketing, mobile, and more. In particular, the email marketing statistics caught our eye, as well as some of the upcoming trends that can be extrapolated from that data.

If you ever find yourself wondering how your email efforts stack up to other B2B companies, take a look at some relevant stats below that have been pulled from Marketing Cloud’s State of Marketing Report, as well as some additional 2014 benchmark reports by eMarketer and EConsultancy. Click on the Twitter bird to the left of each stat to Tweet out your favorites!

Note: if you would like to learn more about how your email metrics compare to other companies in your specific industry, as well as companies of a similar size, check out this great benchmark report by Mailchimp, which analyzes emails sent by more than seven million users.

Email is here to stay.

No surprise here: data from Marketing Cloud suggests that email marketing is as effective of a marketing tactic as ever, despite rumors that it will one day meet its end as social and mobile continue to rise in popularity. In fact, not only is email effective — it’s significantly impacting ROI for businesses that are using it regularly.

73% of marketers agree that email marketing is core to their business.

60% of marketers claim that email is a critical enabler of products and services, versus 42% of marketers in 2014.

20% of marketers say that their business' primary revenue source is directly linked to email operations.

43% of businesses have email teams of 2-3 people.

74% of marketers believe email produces or will produce ROI in the future.

For 69.7% of US internet users, email is the preferred method of communicating with businesses. (eMarketer)

You can’t spell “email” without “mobile”….kind of.

Your email and mobile efforts will be increasingly tied together over the coming year. Not only are more and more mobile users using their devices to check their email, many of them are also screening their emails via their mobile inbox. If you’re finding that your open rates are dropping, this could be a contributing factor. Pay special attention to your subject lines to make sure users aren’t swiping “delete” the second your email lands in their inbox.

72% of US online adults send or receive personal emails via smartphone at least weekly. (Forrester)

One-third of marketers say their subscribers read emails on mobile devices at least 50% of the time.

Responsive design is more critical than ever.

The next logical jump from mobile is responsive design, which makes it possible to read emails on mobile devices without any of the pounding headaches. One of the largest sources of frustration for email users who rely heavily on their mobile devices is emails that don’t render properly on mobile. Fortunately, according to the study by Marketing Cloud, the majority of marketers are no longer ignoring responsive design, and are finally acknowledging its necessity.

Only 24% of marketers rarely or never use responsive email design.

Note: Get more tips on responsive design in this article by Pardot’s resident User Experience expert, Cliff Seal.

Not all emails are created equal.

At this point, we should all be in agreement that email is important and here to stay. But not all emails are seeing the same amount of success. Take a look at the stats below to see which email elements are considered the most critical, the top three types of emails being used by marketers, and the top three most effective emails being used (note the lack of overlap in these metrics).

Marketers rank the 3 most critical aspects of an email as email content and design (79%), campaign management (74%), and contact management (74%).

Marketers rank the 3 most effective aspects of an email as email content and design (66%), templates (59%), and quality control (58%).

Note: Email templates appear last on the list of critical aspects of an email, but are still ranked as the third-most effective aspect, suggesting that marketers are underestimating the importance of their email templates. If you feel that your templates can be improved, take a look at our 2015 Email Design Lookbook, which features best practices tips and example templates from Pardot’s own clients.

The top 3 uses of email are newsletters (66%), promotional content (54%), and welcome series emails (42%).

The top 3 most effective emails, on the other hand, are mobile opt-ins (76%), birthday emails (75%), and transactional emails (74%).

We still have work to do.

While marketers seem to be hot on the heels of email success, there are areas where they would like to see improvement. We’re seeing movement toward tracking the right email metrics, as reflected below, but marketers still struggle with personalization and segmentation of their emails. EMarketer predicts that 2015 will be the year for “smart use of data” — it will be interesting to see how marketers begin using data collected by their marketing and marketing automation tools to start personalizing their email communications even more.

The top three metrics used to track email marketing success are click-through rates (47%), conversion rates (43%), and click-to-open rates (38%).

Nearly two-thirds of companies would like to improve their personalization (64%), marketing automation (64%), and segmentation (62%). (EConsultancy)

59% of marketers plan to increase their email marketing budgets in 2015.

Want more benchmark data? Check out the full State of Marketing report from Marketing Cloud here.