New Research on the State of Email in 2017 [Content Marketing Podcast 225]

May 2017

The new “2017 State of Email Report” offers some clues to what it takes to win with today’s email subscribers.

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Welcome to Episode 225 of the Content Marketing Podcast!

If you joined us for last week’s podcast, you’ll recall we shared some research-based insights on the content marketing practices of B2B enterprise organizations. (Need to get caught up?)

New Research on the State of Email in 2017 [Content Marketing Podcast 225]Today we’re looking at a report on the state of email in 2017 and picking up some clues on how to win with today’s complex, sophisticated subscribers.

Give today’s episode a listen to hear:

  • You have just a few more days to get early-bird pricing for the MarTech Conference — who wants to join me there?
  • How to grab your copy of our complimentary audio “5 Things You Must Know About Content Marketing
  • Our latest News Feed segment:
  • How “Reachpocalypse” in social media is fostering a resurgence of our love for email
  • Insights from Litmus’ new report, “The 2017 State of Email Report” (you can download a copy here)
  • Tip of the Week: How to balance the content on your blog and in your e-newsletter

Please remember that this podcast is about you — your questions, your frustrations, your hopes and dreams for your content marketing program. So please take a moment to send me your feedback, questions, or comments via email, on our Facebook Page, or via Twitter.

Today’s Video Transcript

Content Marketing Podcast 225: New Research on the State of Email in 2017

May 4, 2017

This is the Content Marketing Podcast, episode number 225: New Research on the State of Email in 2017


Hello, and welcome to the Content Marketing Podcast. This is the show where we help you grow your tribe and your bottom line through insanely good content. I am your host, Rachel Parker of Resonance Content Marketing, and today is May 4th, 2017.


Hello, hello, or as we say in Texas, “howdy,” and thank you for joining us for today’s episode of the Content Marketing Podcast. Today I have a Pug on my lap; Miss Sophie is feeling a little under the weather so she’s craving a little extra “mama time.” So she’ll be joining us for today’s recording.

So okay, first of all, a special invitation to my Houston peeps: On May 25th I will have the honor of presenting at Martech Houston, this is going to be a fantastic one-day conference focused on the latest marketing strategies for small and medium-sized businesses, and I would love to see you there! For more information, visit Early bird pricing has been extended to May 8th, which is just a few more days, so grab your spot asap, to save $30 on your registration.


Also, an announcement for everybody, I am now working with a transcriber to publish transcripts of all new episodes of the Content Marketing Podcast! I know a lot of you listen to this podcast in your car and maybe at the gym, and sometimes you might hear an insight that you want to make note of or go back to, but of course it’s not always convenient to listen to the entire episode again. Well, now you’ll be able to refer to a transcript, and that will appear in the blog post for each episode. Now it does take a bit of time to get those transcripts completed and posted, so if you’re looking for; for example if you’re looking for a transcript for this episode for a, just give us a couple of days. So definitely by Monday we will have that available for you.

Okay just a reminder this podcast is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Google Play Music, so if you like what you hear, please feel free to click on over and subscribe. I also invite you to download our complimentary audio, “5 Things You Must Know About Content Marketing.” Download today to learn The 5 things you absolutely must know to reap the benefits of a solid content marketing program. To snag your free copy, go to

Last week we shared some insights from the latest research on content marketing in B2B enterprise organizations — so, organizations with a thousand or more employees. If you happened to miss that episode, feel free to check it out on iTunes or via the RSS feed, and of course we also have that on the website at

So today we’re looking at another research study, this one on the state of email in 2017.But first, it’s time to check in with our News Feed for this week’s rundown of news you can use.

News Feed

Well, last week we reported on a flurry of activity, with big announcements from Snapchat and Facebook, so this week has been relatively quiet … and I don’t mind, [laughs] I don’t mind a quiet week once in a while.

Some news out of Pinterest kicking off the news feed. Pinterest has announced it will be retiring the “Like” button in the near future. The company announced on its blog that there’s been some confusion between the “Like” button and the “Save” button. They have done some usability studies that indicated Pinterest was easier to use without the “Like” button and it’s been speculated that the real reason for the change is to differentiate Pinterest from other visual-oriented social networks, like Facebook and Instagram. Don’t know how true that is, but that’s what the gurus are saying.


Okay speaking of Instagram, Instagram reported that it now has more than 700 million users around the world. Now that is up from the 600 million that was reported just four months ago. So over the last four months Instagram has added 100 million users. What does that mean for us marketers? It means if you’re still resisting, or maybe encountering resistance from your leadership, now’s the perfect time to give Instagram another look.


Okay, speaking of growing user bases, LinkedIn has an announcement of its own this week: LinkedIn now has half a billion users around the world. 500 million, and they are located all over the world, like I said. The LinkedIn community now represents more than 10 million active jobs, access to more than 9 million companies, and with more than 100,000 articles published every week. As I always tell my clients, if you are a B2B company, you need to be on LinkedIn, period. And there are now 500 million reasons for you to do that.


Content Hit of the Week:


Our Content Hit of the Week is called “4 Ways to Beat Your Competition with the Power of Content Marketing,” a guest post by Rohan Ayyar on the Jeff Bullas blog. Now when I came across this post the title made me smile, because it reminded me of some conversations that I have with prospective clients. Sometimes they’ll be on the fence about getting on board with content marketing — they’re not sure if they want to make the commitment and they want to spend the money, etc., etc. — and then I bring up their competitors. You know, maybe a competitor that is giving them a lot of grief that might be kicking their you-know-what in the marketplace, and that competitor might be doing a bang-up job with content marketing, and Oh my goodness! That little green-eyed monster we call jealousy rears its little head. Lo and behold, many of them come around, as soon as I bring up that topic.


So we need to be conscious of our competitors. Everyone has them. Every one, I don’t know of a single business that does not have a competitor, and content marketing, when done well, can be an effective strategy in getting a leg up on those competitors. In this post Rohan shows us four ways that we can do that. It is an excellent read, and I will of course provide the link in the blog post for this episode. (


Okay, that’s it for this week’s update — if you stumble across something you think might be of interest to your fellow content marketers, please tweet it to me at @rachparker so that we can share. Now it’s time for this week’s spotlight segment: New Research on the State of Email in 2017.


When it comes to online marketing, email is like the cat with nine lives: every time we think that email is done for, it rises up again. You remember about six or seven years ago, when social media first started to take off and a lot of gurus were sounding the death knell for email? Yeah that didn’t happen, did it? [Laughs]


When I talk to clients, some of them don’t want to hear about email: they want to talk about social media, they want to talk about video, they might want to talk about podcasting, they want to talk about infographics. But a lot of them kind of shy away from email; they think it’s old-school, they think that it’s not sexy. But guess what? It works! And especially today, if you look at what’s going on in social media. We’ve got what is called “Reachpocalypse” going on, and our organic social media reach is tanking, so email is emerging even stronger than ever, because we’re just not getting the results that we need from social media alone.


That brings me to this research report by Litmus on Email Marketing Trends for 2017. (Hey Sophie, mama is talking) Before I get into specific insights, if you want to download a free copy of this report for your own reference, you absolutely can do so and I will provide the link in the blog post for this episode. Go to, click on Episode 225, and that will take you to the blog post with the link ( If you want to get your own copy, also if you look at this report, you will notice that there is a lot of technical information there. So there is a lot of HTML coding advice and how different email providers interpret different tags, stuff like that. But today I’m going to focus on things that affect us as content marketers.


  • Insight #1: The first insight in this report that really struck me is that most email marketing teams are small. They interviewed 885 respondents, and 41% have of them say they just have teams of just 1 or 2 people who work on email. So not necessarily people who are dedicated to email, but one or two who work on email, and that is very much in line with what we saw with the Content Marketing Institute’s research. We’re seeing a lot of small teams having to get a lot done to keep that content flowing.

Takeaway: So our takeaway from this insight I think is that we need good workflows. We need to streamline our processes, and make sure that we are getting the most out of this team’s time, because if you only have a team of one or two people and you’re trying to keep a vibrant content marketing program going, then we need to make the most out of those folks’ time.

So look at your workflows, look at ways you can streamline, maybe look at opportunities for outsourcing. Is there a portion of your content marketing or your email marketing that you could bring in outside help to assist with and then you have your team focus on the more strategic aspects, that’s always an option that you might want to consider?

So insight #1: if you have a small team that is working on email you are definitely not alone.

  • Insight #2: The second insight I wanted to share is that researchers found that users — so now they are talking about users — they find it easy to subscribe, but not so easy to unsubscribe. 48% of respondents said it was “very easy” to subscribe to a brand’s email list, but only 38% said it was “very easy” to unsubscribe.

Now you may be thinking, okay so what? If people don’t know how to unsubscribe, then they’ll keep subscribing. Well, hey here’s the kicker. When asked the question “Have you marked promotional emails from a brand as spam because you couldn’t easily figure out how to unsubscribe?” 50% said yes. So half of the respondents admitted that when they got an email from a brand, that they wanted to unsubscribe to and couldn’t figure out how to unsubscribe, they marked it as spam.

That is serious business folks; we cannot have people marking us as spam, because that just sets off a whole other slew of problems, and in fact, your email marketing provider can kick you out if you get too many complaints about spam, so we need to make it easy for people to unsubscribe. We want people to stay with us, yes, but we want people to have a good experience with us, and if that means unsubscribing and having a positive, easy experience when they go to unsubscribe, then so be it, and if that experience is good then if their interest change down the road and they want to re-subscribe, they’ll be much more likely to do so.

So we can’t fear the unsubscribe, we need to make it easy, we need to make it clear, because we do not want people reporting us as spam just because they cannot find that unsubscribe link.

For me, I notice most unsubscribe links are at the bottom. So if I receive an email and I’m either not interested or I get too many emails from this brand, I will scroll all the way to the bottom and most of the time I will find an unsubscribe link down there. So if you can’t figure out where to put that link, put it in the bottom, put it in the footer and if you use a good email provider they will put it there for you, because that is the norm the unsubscribe link usually shows up at the bottom, but bottom line we need to make it easy for people to unsubscribe.

Takeaway: We need to make it easy for people to unsubscribe.

  • Insight #3: The next insight I want to share with you is when it comes to email, mobile rules. (Sophie, quiet!) The top 3 email clients in 2016 were Apple (I’m going to close the door here, so she can have her little episode by herself) okay, there we go. The top 3 email clients in 2016 were
  1. Apple iPhone
  2. Gmail
  3. Apple iPad

So of the top 3 email clients, two of them — number one and number three — were for mobile devices, the iPhone and the iPad. Now for overall market share, mobile dominated at 54%, so that’s all mobile, that’s apps for Android, iPhone, what have you that dominated at 54% of market share, while desktop actually dropped in 2016 from 19% to 16%. So 16% of that email market is owned by desktop that is not a lot.

So you may look at this and say “Okay, is this really such a big deal to users?” Oh, yes it is. 51% of consumers have unsubscribed from a brand’s emails because their emails or website didn’t display or work well on their smart phone. (Okay, Sophie is done with her episode, and she is coming back in, to sit on my lap.) So more than half of those consumers have unsubscribed because they did not have a good experience reading those emails on their smart phone and — get this — 43% have reported emails as spam because the emails didn’t display or work well on their smart phone.

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There’s no more excuse folks: we have got to get with the mobile program, and as the authors of the report put it, “Designing your emails for mobile isn’t a “nice-to-have” any longer. It’s a necessity to sit at the table.”

So test, test, test, make sure it works well on all platforms, mobile, I mean smart phone, tablet, “phablet,” mini-tablet, what have you, because if it doesn’t work well, it could wind up in a spam complaint, and we do not want that.

Takeaway: There’s no excuse; as the authors of the report put it, “Designing your emails for mobile isn’t a “nice-to-have” any longer. It’s a necessity to sit at the table.”

  • Insight #4: Speaking of which, the next insight I want to share is that users cite surprising reasons for reporting emails as spam.

Among the top reasons that users cited were:

  • The brand sent irrelevant or too many emails. Now we all know that “spam” is a very specific kind of unwanted email, but users view it differently. If something is not particularly relevant to them or if they feel there are too many emails there, many of them are reporting those as spam.
  • Another reason they cited was: Subscriber was no longer interested in the brand, and it’s almost like people are starting to view that spam report as the equivalent of the unsubscribe. They’re viewing them as one and the same, and that is dangerous territory. Unsubscribes are not a problem, people are — you know people may unsubscribe for many reasons, but the spam reports, those are actually hurting our online reputations.
  • Another reason that people cite is that the Recipient didn’t knowingly and willingly subscribe to receive the emails. So what does that tell us? That tells us that if we have a lead generation asset, if it’s an e-book, or resource, or white paper, we need to be clear that by downloading this people are going to be entered in our email list, and they can unsubscribe at any time and when they do want to unsubscribe, we need to make it easy.

Takeaway: So the takeaway from this insight about the reason that people cite for reporting emails as spam is we need to respect our audiences. Okay, we cannot send them irrelevant content; we cannot send them too many emails. How many is too many? Well, we need to figure that out, we need to maybe do some testing.

The reason that the subscriber was no longer interested in that brand … well maybe that brand stopped being interesting to its audience, and maybe it stopped speaking to the needs of that audience. That’s one thing we need to be aware of, and recipient’s like I said, we need to make sure that we let them know that if they download this resource or take some other action that involves giving an address, that will get them on our list and we need to let them know that they can unsubscribe at any time.

  • Final Takeaway: Okay, the final takeaway that I want to share from this report is that they shared some tips for avoiding spam complaints and unsubscribes. We want people to stay with us, we work very hard to get those email addresses, and we want to keep people in our communities, that’s the bottom line folks, we want to keep people in our communities because we can continue to serve them, and yes if they do have a need for our product or service in the future, we want to be, we want to be in that email inbox. We want to on their minds; we want to be top of mind with those folks. So the first tip is:
  1. Improve your permissioning to ensure that the consent to opt-in to your email program is strong. So make sure that when people opt in they know what they are opting in for.
  2. Send relevant emails at a good cadence, and again it might involve some testing to figure out what the right cadence is, what the right timing is. And we need to always make sure that we are sending relevant emails to our audience.
  3. Create mobile-friendly emails. We talked about mobile.
  4. Create mobile-friendly landing page experiences. Ooh! There is a stinger — how many of your landing pages are optimized for mobile email? Think about it. Someone gets a nice looking email on their smart phone that says “Hey we’ve got a free white paper”, and they click on download and they come to a landing page that is not optimized for mobile, eee what are the odds of that person converting, when they were ready, willing, and able to give their email address for this resource? So make sure your landing pages are mobile friendly as well.
  5. Make opting out easy to avoid frustrating subscribers, as we saw when subscribers can’t find that unsubscribe button easily, many of them will resort to reporting as spam. We don’t want that.
  6. Don’t email subscribers who have just had poor customer experiences. So if someone has had a bad experience, treat them very carefully, we need to give them very personal attention, we don’t need to create a list for people who have had those problems and then send them generic messages.
  7. Maintain your subscribers’ interest, that’s something we’ve talked about on this podcast several times. Its’ that we can’t just do our one-off audience research and say, okay these are the things that interest our audience forever and ever amen, and just use that continuously going forward. We need to keep our finger on the pulse of our audience, because their interests change and their preferences change. We need to change along with them, so maintain that subscriber interest by keeping in touch with your audience, keeping track of changes in their interests and their practices and continuing to serve them as well as you can.

Again if you want to download a copy of this report, and again this is a report by Litmus, called the, I think it’s called “The State of Email in 2017,” I will provide the link in the blog post for this episode  just go to, click on episode 225 and you will find the link there (

If you have any questions or want to add to the conversation, feel free to tweet me at @rachparker. Now it’s time for our Content Marketing Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week:

Speaking of email, one question I get very frequently from marketers is: “Well can’t I repurpose my blog content into my e-newsletter?” The short answer is “no”. Copying and pasting entire blog posts to serve as email content is wrong on so many levels.

(1) Most blog posts are way too long to serve as email content.

(2) Even if you edit that content, you’ll irritate people who both  follow your blog and subscribe to your list, because they’re seeing the same thing.

(3) It makes you look like you’re either short on ideas or lazy, neither of which is an attractive impression to give.

What you can do — and what I encourage you to do, and what I do myself — is create unique content for your e-newsletter, but include links to your most recent blog content.

If you receive my e- newsletters, those go out every Friday and those include a quick tip, — I mean two or three paragraphs at the most — and then it also includes links to my weekly video, my weekly podcast, and also the weekly blog post.

So that way you offer your followers/subscribers something unique and easily consumable, that’s right there contained in the email plus links to additional content if they want to learn more. So copy paste blog post and emails? No. But link to blog content and emails? Absolutely yes. That is going to help enrich the experience for your audience and give them another point of contact with you.

OK, campers, that is it for me today — me and Sophie, that is. I Hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Content Marketing Podcast. If you like what you’ve heard today, please feel free to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play Music or via our RSS feed. And if you REALLY like what you’ve heard, please leave us a quick review on iTunes. I would so appreciate that.

Also, remember that my book, The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and Win, is now available in book and Kindle format on Amazon. To learn more about the book and to download a free chapter, visit

As you know, I always like to leave you with a quote, and today we have another gem from Seth Godin. He once said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Again, this is Rachel Parker with Resonance Content Marketing. Thank you again for listening and we will see you again next week. Take care!


Content Marketing CoachRemember to snag your copy of The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN! — now available on Amazon!

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About the Author

Rachel Parker, Founder & CEO of Resonance Content Marketing

A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).

As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and author of the book The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN!
content_marketing_50 BizSugar Featured Author on Business 2 Community

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    My company had little or no time to spend on social media. Our needs were to ensure a steady stream of posts across three platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) by harvesting and re-purposing content from our own site and news streams. So I contacted Rachel Parker of Resonance Content Marketing.

    The result was two-fold. Not only did our ranks of followers grew steadily, the steady drip, drip, drip of content helped us train our personnel and direct their own individual social media efforts.

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    Rachel was hired to write content for our email newsletter and content for our social platforms. In addition, she had a budget to do advertising on social media. She participated in the event live and after the fact to assure buzz was created before, during and after the event. As a result, our event sold out.

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