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Email marketing in 2023: Key takeaways from the Inbox Insights survey

What happens when you survey thousands of email senders around the world? You learn a lot about the state of email and where the communication channel is headed next. Discover some of the high-level results from inside our Inbox Insights 2023 report.

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Email is a powerful communication channel and a versatile marketing tool. Ask a bunch of senders about their approaches to email marketing in 2023 and you’re sure to hear a different answer every time.

Your business and brand are unique. So is your email program as well as your list and the individual subscribers you’re reaching. However, understanding the bigger picture and the always-evolving landscape will help you define your strategy for email marketing in 2023.

That’s why we’re excited about the results of the second annual Inbox Insights report from Sinch Mailjet. It’s based on a survey of more than 3,200 senders around the world. You can use these findings to enhance and advance your own program as you compare your strategy to the rest of the world’s email marketers.

In the full report, we also explore email program success in five specific regions. But here we’ll look at global results. Let’s explore some of the key findings from Inbox Insights 2023.

Will email marketing deliver success in 2023?

When asked about email program success over the last 12 months, most survey respondents feel positive about the way things have gone. More than 16% of senders say email has been Very successful while another 43.5% say the channel was Somewhat successful.

Only a combined 11% report having unsuccessful email programs while around 30% would call their success Average. Next year, we’ll compare results to find out if email marketing success increased in 2023.

Pie chart showing results of how senders would describe their email program success last year

When asked to pick the three most important metrics for defining email success, the survey suggests many respondents continue to rely on familiar forms of measurement. Senders chose Open rate and Clickthrough rate (CTR) more than 40% of the time.

However, metrics that have a closer connection to business success also landed near the top of the list. Conversion rate (26%) and Revenue from email (21.8%) both represent a deeper way of tracking email program performance.

Graph results of respondents on measuring success

It’s worth noting that senders from the U.S. and the UK were less likely to choose the Open rate as a measure of email success. That’s likely due in part to the emergence of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) and the popularity of iPhones in those regions.

We also asked senders what they believe to be the three most important factors that contribute to email marketing success. These were efforts that landed on top of the list:

  • Design and copy (34.4%)

  • Improving deliverability (34.4%)

  • Cohesive strategy (32%)

  • Ability to measure performance/ROI (27.7%)

Start exploring

Get your copy of Inbox Insights 2023

Discover the details of an in-depth industry survey featuring more than 3,200 email senders like you. Find out what you can learn from their success, challenges, and strategies. Then take your email program to the next level.

How does email marketing support business objectives?

When asked whether email marketing directly contributes to business success, more than 76% of respondents agreed. Yet, it was a bit surprising to find that nearly a quarter seem to be unsure if email is making a significant contribution to their organizations.

That could be because some brands aren’t taking advantage of the ways email supports important business objectives. It could also be related to difficulties in measuring email success. More than half of senders said they aren’t always able to attribute email’s impact on the business.

Pie chart showing results on senders' view on email marketing on success of their organization

From connecting to selling to educating and informing, email may serve many purposes for an organization. But what is the most important objective for email?

After respondents chose the most important email objectives, survey results show Content distribution (49.5%) rose to the top. This makes perfect sense. From your latest articles to onboarding that improves product adoption – email is the best way to get the right content in front of the right people at the right time.

Graph showing results on respondents' view on company important objectives

Transactional communication (35.3%) and Promotions and selling (30.5%) rounded out the top three. Together, these three objectives sum up the basics of email marketing in 2023 quite effectively:

  1. Provide subscribers with helpful content that generates loyalty and trust.

  2. Promote what you’re selling after you’ve earned their attention and interest.

  3. Send transactional emails that support the customer experience.

What are email’s biggest constraints and challenges in 2023?

For the email marketers who aren’t seeing the success they expect, there must be something that’s holding them back. That’s why we asked survey participants to tell us about the top three constraints to their email programs.

The Inbox Insights 2023 survey found that Standing out in the inbox (37.3%) is the biggest constraint for email marketers around the world. Of course, that’s nothing new. It is, however, a challenge that continues to get harder to overcome. There are more digital distractions, a growing number of communication channels, and inboxes are as crowded and cluttered as ever.

Graph showing results of what respondents believed are biggest constraints to their email marketing program

Rounding out the top three constraints to success were Inbox placement issues (32.7%) and Lack of time/focus (32.7%). The first represents challenges with email deliverability, and the second is more of an organizational challenge.

These three challenges can also create a frustrating cycle. In order to improve email deliverability and earn inbox placement, you need to deliver emails that get good engagement. That’s one way mailbox providers like Gmail and Outlook judge your reputation. To get better email engagement, you need to stand out in the inbox. And you need time, talent, and resources if you want to develop an effective strategy that includes engaging, creative campaigns.

All that to say, these familiar email marketing challenges are totally connected.

Declining use of email (27.3%) also landed near the top of the list of constraints. The truth is that email usage continues to grow and so does the volume of messages sent every day. But, if you’re a sender with this concern, you may want to explore the idea of expanding your ideas around digital communication. Would an omnichannel marketing strategy be a good fit for your brand?

Email design and development challenges in 2023

While email design and development are big contributors to success, this part of the process comes with its own set of challenges. Here’s a look at what senders in our survey say are their biggest headaches when creating and coding email campaigns.

Graph showing results of respondents' biggest email design and development challenges

Developing emails that look good and function on both desktop screens and mobile devices is one of the biggest problems. More than 36% of respondents say Responsive emails are challenging. To optimize the inbox experience for your list, check out the breakdown of mobile vs desktop opens. If most subscribers are using smartphones to view your emails, consider a mobile-first approach to email design and development.

Inconsistent rendering (35.1%) and Dark mode (24.5%) complete the three biggest challenges for designers and coders. Check out our infographic to find out why dark mode emails can be a problem. Both these challenges are connected to the unreliable ways email clients display content and support methods of coding. Put simply, the email industry needs defined standards. It’s something that the Email Markup Consortium (EMC) is working to remedy.

More to explore inside Inbox Insights 2023

Do you relate to the struggles and successes of the email marketers who took our survey? If these results already have your mind working on ideas, solutions, and strategies, you’re going to love what’s inside the full report.

Inbox Insights 2023 also includes:

  • A look at typical email team sizes, production time, and processes

  • The most popular email personalization strategies

  • How senders are tackling list hygiene and list management

  • Advanced email marketing tactics being pursued in 2023

  • International comparisons of five regions

  • Key takeaways from industry breakouts

  • Nuggets of wisdom from email industry experts

  • And much more

For even more on how organizations are using email marketing in 2023, check out our previous report “Email in an evolving economy”. Find out why email may be the most “recession-proof” marketing channel around.

Start exploring

Get your copy of Inbox Insights 2023

Discover the details of an in-depth industry survey featuring more than 3,200 email senders like you. Find out what you can learn from their success, challenges, and strategies. Then take your email program to the next level.

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