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Tried-and-True Email Marketing Must Adapt to New Trends in the UK

Budgets go up as marketers integrate other digital tactics with email

For most UK marketers, email has been a key element in their digital arsenal for years, and its adaptability is one of its key strengths, according to a new eMarketer report, “Email Marketing in the UK: Budgets and ROI on the Rise—but Email Still Makes Few Headlines.”

But marketers face growing pressure to integrate email with other marketing efforts, including social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and direct mail. The explosion in UK mobile use is the other major influence on planning, since email can now reach UK consumers virtually anywhere and at any time. The downside is that firms must rethink email strategies and formats to make the most of smaller screens and behavior patterns of consumers on the go.

Marketers very much value email as a contributor to overall ROI, leads, acquisition, customer knowledge and engagement, yet email still suffers from underinvestment to some degree.

Approximately half (51%) of UK brand marketers polled by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) UK said email marketing accounted for no more than 10% of their 2012 marketing budget. Yet one in every five respondents said they devoted at least 40% of their 2012 budget to email.

Many of these firms also assessed the ROI of email in conjunction with other marketing tactics. More than two-thirds (65%) of respondents said combining email with online marketing was among the best ways to deliver ROI, 38% cited social networking sites and 32% singled out direct mail. Mobile marketing was the only other tactic that more than 20% of respondents mentioned.

Mobile is having among the biggest influences on email marketing.

In July 2012, 46% of UK mobile users surveyed said they sent and received emails on a mobile device at least a few times per week, according to a poll by TIME Magazine and Qualcomm. And predictably, the proportion of UK mobile email users was marginally higher among smartphone owners, as mobile service provider O2 reported. The company found that 52% of UK smartphone users polled carried out email tasks on their smartphone.

Engagement with mobile email continues to rise. An October 2012 study by Return Path indicated that 62% of email users in the UK checked their email on a mobile device every day.

Mobile email does involve major challenges. If messages aren’t optimized for mobile devices, consumers can encounter inappropriate layouts, unreadable text, images that don’t download and awkward links. A few bad experiences of scrolling through cramped, unnecessary content can put off even the keenest mobile user.

As integration with other marketing channels increases, the virtues of email should become clearer—potentially encouraging larger budgets. Understanding email’s contribution to business outcomes will tend to strengthen, not undermine, its claims as a vital channel for communicating with UK consumers—encouraging more engagement and sales.


The full report, “Email Marketing in the UK: Budgets and ROI on the Rise—but Email Still Makes Few Headlines” also answers these key questions:

  • How do UK consumers view commercial email?
  • How much are UK companies spending on email marketing?
  • How many UK firms use audience segmentation and other methods to improve email performance?
  • How do UK firms measure email’s ROI?
  • How is the market for mobile email developing in the UK?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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