Roughly three-quarters of marketers, sales and business professionals around the world report that their email lists are growing, but for the vast majority of those (61% of respondents overall), that growth is coming slowly. As such, list growth emerges as one of the top email marketing objectives for the year ahead, per the latest survey findings from Ascend2 and its Research Partners. Indeed, almost half – 48% – of the respondents to the survey said that increasing their email list size is one of their most important objectives, ranking as the third-leading priority.
Interestingly, unsubscribe rates are the least challenging obstacle to list growth success in the minds of the survey respondents. Instead, creating valuable and relevant content (44%) and list growth expertise (43%) are the most commonly-cited hindrances, with email list hygiene/accuracy (40%) and strategy effectiveness (39%) also prominent concerns.
Curiously, while list hygiene is a top-cited challenge, few respondents indicated that improvement in this area is a top objective for their strategy in the year ahead. That may be the result of respondents associating this with list growth and conversions, which are more highly-ranked strategic priorities.
Asked which of 8 tactics are most effective for email list growth purposes, website access and content downloads occupied the top tier of tactics, cited by 43% and 42% of respondents, respectively. (About 7 in 10 respondents are from B2B companies, which may be more likely to use form registration tactics.) The perceived effectiveness of these tactics may not only reflect today’s near-ubiquity of a digital presence (as opposed to call center or in-store capture), but may also be a function of their ease. In fact, few respondents indicated that gated content such as website access (16%) and content downloads (22%) are among their most difficult list growth tactics to execute, at least relative to tactics such as social media sharing (40%) or paid search campaigns (39%).
It’s worth noting that, at least in the B2C space, email subscribers who implicitly opt-in to lists (in order to complete an action or access content) behave somewhat differently to those who explicitly opt-in, according to a MarketingCharts study, Why Consumers Open Brand Emails. Implicit opt-ins tend to be less engaged with the brands that send them emails, while requiring more relevant subject lines to pique their interest.
Returning to the Ascend2 study, two-thirds of respondents indicated that list growth is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing program, with another 29% indicating this to be “somewhat important.” The somewhat slow growth of those lists may be why respondents are only cautiously confident in the success of their email marketing programs. Respondents were 4 times more likely to say their email strategies are “somewhat successful” (56%) as they were to call them “very successful” (14%) in meeting their most important objectives. As for those most important objectives? Increasing conversion rates (57%) topped the list, followed by improved lead generation (51%) and list growth (48%).
About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 251 marketers, salespeople and business professionals around the world. 71% identify their primary marketing/sales channel as B2B, and 55% come from companies with fewer than 55 employees.