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Welcome to the age of .... dead things? 

People like to call different types of marketing dead. What's the fate of email marketing? Many still believe in it. 

We caught up with three who are believers, in fact. One claims traditional email service providers (ESPs) aren't cutting it for marketers. Another claims it knows who the 20 most popular ESPs are. And the other believes it's cracked the code where email marketing best works.

Naturally, each has something to gain. They are providers in this space. But nonetheless, we were curious to hear their takes on the state of email marketing.

Adobe: Traditional ESPs Don't Cut It

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Adobe Campaign, a platform offered by San Jose, Calif-based Adobe Systems, produces email-marketing capabilities in the Adobe Marketing Cloud suite.

Adobe's Kristin Naragon, director of email services, and her organization wanted to identify email marketers' pain points. So they surveyed about 260 marketers from the Direct Marketing Association.

Released yesterday, Adobe officials found that less than half of them regularly coordinate information from other digital channels into their marketing programs. Those marketers want to integrate better with their analytics tools, tap into their organization’s content library to support consistent branding and personalized content, and act in real time based on customer behaviors.

Only 36 percent said email is “the central means of communication for our cross-channel marketing strategy."

They reported struggling with:

  • Limited email-only visibility vs. 360-degree view of consumer interactions with brands
  • Inability to automate an entire email campaign with multiple touch points
  • Inefficient connection with other tools that help marketers do their jobs

Naragon told CMSWire that email marketers have a "desire to do more." It can be "the most lucrative channel," but there's "room for innovation," she added. "It all points to better engagement with the consumer."

Capterra: We Know Who Rocks

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Capterra, an Arlington, Va., company that helps businesses choose software, believes it knows the most popular ESPs. Gathering customer and user counts from email marketing vendors, it released a top 20 list. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, GetResponse and Campaign Monitor rank highest.

The Capterra team thinks email marketing is very much alive.

Katie Hollar, director of marketing for Capterra, said email marketers tell her company they don’t have the budget or time to gather data about their prospects and customers in order to make relevant, targeted email list segments. 

Email marketing systems, they say, are too simple for their needs (no auto-responders, drip campaigns, assignment rules, integrations with CRMs, etc.), and they struggle to afford a marketing automation systems with those features; it often costs five to 10 times or more than an email marketing platform.

Tracking email campaigns is challenging for them, too, because reports and tools often don’t integrate into other online reporting systems, like Google Analytics or their CRMs.

"The most successful email marketers," Hollar said, "are the ones who are able to integrate their email campaigns into a bigger framework that works in coordination with all of their other marketing channels. In that regard, email marketers are most excited about some of the new functionality the big software providers have released that allows for all of their marketing to live under one, comprehensive marketing platform."

Hollar, in contrast to Adobe's findings, said most email marketers are happy with their email service providers, especially if they can spend less time downloading CSVs from multiple channels and filtering lists in Excel and re-uploading and testing, and then re-downloading and re-uploading.

Mailify: B2Bs Getting Better

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New York City-based Mailify, a provider of email marketing software, released an infographic that measures reader engagement last month.

Eric Krattenstein, Mailify’s chief marketing officer, told CMSWire the biggest struggles for B2B email marketers are the lack of a consistent plan and follow-through.

"The first email you send it only part of the puzzle," Krattenstein said. "An integral part, sure, but what you do with the results often determines success or failure. Do you pick up the phone and call all of the people who clicked on links in your email? After recipients qualify themselves by opening or clicking on certain links, do you have a follow-up email ready for them that is more targeted to their interests and able to move them through your funnel?"

B2B marketers are doing a great job adapting to changing technology trends, he said, and incorporating mobile-responsive emails.

"We’ve also noticed marketers getting better at not leaving email in a vacuum," Krattenstein said, "but rather integrating it with their content and social strategies."

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Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by Skley.