Forrester Research recently conducted a survey of more than 250 interactive marketing executives in Europe. The study showed that more than seven in ten of all marketers surveyed used email marketing, a finding that dwarfed search marketing at 49% and even surpassed display media at 66%. Given that strong rate of adoption, it is disconcerting to learn that fundamental subscription list management techniques are largely ignored by European email marketers.

The Majority Do Not Coordinate Marketing Approaches

Overall, the numbers that indicate European email marketing tactics show that there is still a ways to go in achieving sophistication and efficiency. Only 35% coordinated emails with online display ads, just 34% did so with site promotions and a very low 29% coordinated their email and offline marketing efforts. This failure of nearly two thirds of all European email marketers to dovetail their online promotions is both surprising and regrettable. Experienced email marketers the world over are well aware that the fragmentation of email messages from the rest of a brand’s promotional approach diminishes the effectiveness of the overall marketing strategy.

Three Quarters of Email Marketers Don’t Segment by Behavior!

Segmentation fared even worse in the Forrester survey. 68% of all European email marketers did not bother to segment or target based on the customer’s location and an equal number did not segment or target based on the information that the prospect requested. This cavalier attitude towards this critical email marketing technique extended to demographics where 74% did not target according to the age or gender of the subscriber. It can be argued that some email marketers are collecting as little information as possible from their new subscribers in order to not make the signup process seem intrusive, but it seems that most European email marketers are not even segmenting based on the customer’s behavior: Fully three out of every four of them did not target or segment in any way based on the subscriber’s past purchases!

When the statistics are broken down by country, some interesting variations are noticed. The French keep their lists the cleanest with 37% swiftly eliminating bouncers, yet only 34% actually segment their lists. In comparison, 41% of all British email marketers segment their lists according to demographic data and 42% by geographic location. Fully two out of five of all German marketers allow their users a choice of what content to receive when they are subscribing.

Segmentation Boosts Opens to 33%, Conversions to 7%

The value of segmentation is indisputable, as European email marketers report that applying their prospects’ social media behavior to their lists results in extremely healthy open rates of 33% and conversions of 7%. The failure to take advantage of such a basic, beneficial technique is almost inexplicable.

Tightening Legislation & a Torpid Economy Calls for State of the Art Marketing

The pace of legislation is definitely stepping up in Europe with the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority extending its jurisdiction over conventional advertising so that, as of March 1st, it is able to police all email marketing in order to ensure that emails are “obviously identifiable as marketing communications without the need to open them” and that all aspects of the email “make clear their commercial intent.” In a legislative environment featuring ever-escalating restrictions and liabilities, and in an international economy that is firmly ensconced in a sluggish cycle, it would seem that the vast majority of email marketers would be applying highly refined tactics to keep their strategies razor sharp. The truth is that when it comes to targeted list segmentation, email coordination with other promotions, and keeping their lists clean, European marketers have yet to realize their full potential.