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2021 State of Email

Litmus, a leader in email marketing, released its 2021 State of Email report. According to the report, over 90% of survey respondents say email marketing is critical to the overall success of their company while 41% say it's "very critical" — an increase of 20 percentage points and 28 percentage points, respectively, since 2019.

Due to increased awareness on personalization and automation, marketers are starting to effectively leverage email in their outreach and are aware of its resulting business impact. As a result, over 40% of companies intend to increase their investment in email marketing in 2022. Additionally, 79% of respondents include email in their top three marketing channels along with paid search and organic search, and 39% indicated that email is their top-performing channel — first among all channels.

The 2021 State of Email report showcases marketers' efforts to prioritize email and implement email-first marketing strategies. However, to fully realize email's potential, marketers must properly calculate their email ROI and create more personalized, optimized subscriber experiences by utilizing A/B testing. Over 60% of marketers don't have a clear view of their email ROI, according to the report, and, furthermore, 55% rarely or never A/B test. This can negatively impact personalized touchpoints, in a time when 9 in 10 marketers believe personalization is imperative to overall business strategy (Forrester).

"Brands and marketers need relevant, personalized customer experiences in order to drive success, which is why, from our State of Email data, businesses are relying on email now more than ever,'' said Melissa Sargeant, CMO of Litmus. "Other core marketing initiatives, such as automation and agile workflow, allow marketers to create timely, customizable touchpoints more efficiently and execute personalization at scale. Email marketing has become a critical component of overall business success and, in order to keep pace with competitors and customer expectations, automation, collaboration, and analytics solutions will only grow in importance — especially as more privacy initiatives come to fruition. Marketing leaders and teams can't afford to fall behind, which is why email will soon become an even bigger centerpiece for future marketing programs."

According to the report, email marketing budgets mostly stayed the same but workload increased due to COVID-19, forcing marketers to prioritize new technologies and strategies such as AI, automation, and agile marketing. Specifically, marketers streamlined email production cycles through design systems, snippets and partials, and automated journeys, while still utilizing personalization and segmentation. The report found the top priorities for marketers in 2021 were:

• 59% expand automation.

• 55% boost personalization.

• 35% enrich customer profiles.

Litmus's third annual report shares key findings into the importance of email marketing to overall business success as well as the impact of personalization, privacy, world events, A/B testing, Apple Mail Privacy Protection, and more on email ROI. Additional takeaways from the report include:

• Because of email's growing priority, more than 40% of companies intend to increase their investment in email in 2022 and many are moving these efforts in-house — with 41% planning to increase their email team and 52% planning to decrease the use of agencies, consultants, and freelancers.

• As a result of Apple Mail Privacy Protection, 43% of marketers will change how their emails are measured, while 24% don't plan to make any changes. Nearly 20% will run more A/B testing, 16% will change automation flows, and 10% will message their audience about Apple Mail Privacy Protection or privacy in general.

• Nearly two-thirds of marketers change the tone of an email in reaction to what's happening around the world. However, 27% have already sent out an email addressing the company's stance on DE&I — and only an additional 7% are planning on doing so.

• Sixty-two percent of respondents say they use email threads or comments for proofing, while 45% are using messaging apps and 38% are proofing live, in person or over video calls.

• Only 9% of users are currently using BIMI but 56% plan to use BIMI in the future.