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Blog | Loyalty

Is it True? 80% of businesses still rely on email marketing

In this instalment of “Is it True?”, we take a headline statistic for 2021 and research the heck out of it to see whether it stacks up.

The Headline

According to a popular blog article posted by Goran Dautovic on  “About 80% of businesses still rely on email marketing to assist with maintaining their client retention rate”. The author cites Emarsys as the source for this stat.

If this headline is true, then email marketing is still alive and kicking, and probably more important for your loyalty program than you can possibly imagine.

So, what do the facts say?

Who are Emarsys, and how did they come up with their stats?

Emarsys is a big digitial marketing company. According to their website Emersys is an “omnichannel customer engagement platform” headquartered in Vienna with up to 1000 employees (you can check them out on LinkedIn).

The headline comes from an “in-person and online survey of 254 retail professionals published in partnership with WBR Digital”. You can read the official summary of the study here.

The survey, “Adapting to the Pace of Omnichannel Commerce” examines how US-based small and medium-sized businesses with annual revenues under $100 million are handling competition from today’s larger retail players. Based on the findings of the retail businesses surveyed, they found that:

  • 81% of small to medium businesses still rely on email as a driver for customer acquisition, and 80% for customer retention;
  • 73% of retailers rank email as a top budget item, with one in five ranking it as a top priority to invest;
  • small to medium businesses saw gains in major KPIs: conversion rates increased by 72%, average order value increased by 65%, and repeat customer purchases increased by 58%;
  • 70% of small to medium businesses begin holiday planning no later than July; and
  • 54% of small to medium businesses identified cart abandonment emails as the most successful marketing tactic and site-based recommendations came in second at 47%.

How reliable is this data, and how does it compare with other stats?

One thing we noticed about the survey was that it was published in 2016! So, unlike what suggest as a 2021 statistic, this one is old. Could it have been written at a time when email still reigned supreme? Fast forward 5 years, and what do other stats say?

Forbes on AWeber Survey

A recent article by Rieva Lesonsky in Forbes mentions that AWeber (an emailing company) recently released its 2020 Small Business Marketing Email Marketing Statistics Report, with some interesting survey results:

  • 66% of businesses surveyed say they use email marketing to “promote their businesses or communicate with leads and/or customers.”
  • 79% say it’s “important” or “very important” to their businesses.
  • However, while business owners acknowledge the importance of email marketing in general, only 60% think their own email marketing strategies are “effective” or “very effective,” while 26% say it’s either “ineffective” or “very ineffective.”
  • Nearly 40% of survey respondents report they send emails “at least once a week but less than daily.” More than 30% send emails “at least once a month but less than weekly.” And about 12% either send emails daily or less than once a month.
  • Most (43%) of the participating small business owners have email lists between 0 and 500 subscribers. Slightly more than 30% have between 1,001 and 9,999 email subscribers, and less than 7% of small businesses have more than 50,000 subscribers.

While we need to account for marketing bias in this survey from AWeber, you can see from their survey that the popularity of email in 2021 is probably down from 80% to around 66%.

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor is another big email marketing platform based in the USA. They conducted a survey of over 1,000 small businesses working in various industries—from agriculture and education to construction and the arts. They published an article Small Business Marketing in 2021: Trends to refine your marketing efforts which cites some interesting statistics drawn from the survey:

  • The most common platform for building brand awareness was social media marketing, which consistently outranked all other mediums.
  • After a 12% decrease in points, email marketing came in second, followed closely by content marketing and paid media, which ranked as the top four opportunities for building brand awareness.
  • The vast majority (78%) of respondents reported they would increase spending in digital marketing, following closely by social media (73%) and email marketing (57%).


It seems that email marketing in 2021 is still a very important means of customer retention and customer acquisition. Are 80% of all businesses relying on email? Probably not that high, but the number is likely somewhere between 60% to 80%.


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One Response

  1. RE: your lead stat, “About 80% of businesses still rely on email marketing to assist with maintaining their client retention rate.”

    Andrew, thanks for your attempt at discerning whether “Is it True? 80% of businesses still rely on email marketing.”

    The fact is that SEO writers today are paid by the word and practically forced to crank out repeated facts as CURRENT. In reality, the stats purported to pertain to the current year are years, if not decades, old.

    While we know email IS still relevant for that stat from his “40 Amazing Customer Loyalty Statistics in 2021,” Goran Dautovic cites Emarsys–as you note–as the source. But he fails to mention, as is revealed here: , that Emarsys published that stat in 2015, so it’s easily 6 years old now.

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