Email is still the leader in marketing return on investment, and the preferred channel for customers, too.

But not everything in the world of email marketing is looking up, according to a new study authored by VB Insight’s Andrew Jones.

The report shows that email is seeing a decline in click rates, largely because people have less time and less patience. Irrelevant content is being punished in the most terminal way — via the dreaded unsubscribe link.

The report — Email Personalization: Increase opens, clicks, and revenue with the right strategies and technologies [A Practitioner Guide] — shows clearly that personalized emails can counter this trend.

The increase in relevance gained from email personalization reduces the rate of unsubscribes. Why is that important?

AgilOne found that unsubscribes result in an average loss of 60 percent of future lifetime value (LTV). A high unsubscribe rate also affects your sender reputation score, which affects your overall email deliverability, so lowering the number of unsubscribes is a critical metric.

In a survey of 257 email marketers, a large majority reported an increase in open rates and click-through rates (CTR) by employing email personalization of some kind. And those tactics included the most basic types of personalization.

ROI - opens and clicks_2

Open rates and CTR aren’t the only areas that benefit from personalized email. In fact, personalized email directly affects revenue, as well.

Experian Marketing Services has found that subscribers who receive its personalized content have not only higher opens and CTR, but a 6x increase in transactions.

Personalization vendor RichRelevance has found that while the average customer email click-through rate is 2.5x higher using personalized compared with non-personalized emails, revenue is an average 5.7x higher.

In short, email personalization has tremendous ROI.

So what is the barrier to success?

Among the issues listed in the study, data quality and lack of internal resources rank high. But with a revenue increase of 500-600 percent, can brands really afford to send irrelevant, non-personalized communications? That level of increase surely pays for the resources and tools needed to solve those two barriers to entry.

In the report — available today from VB Insight — you will learn key challenges and benchmarks. The report details what email marketers are doing, their strategies and tactics, and the best practices for email personalization.

The report also shows how to increase the maturity of your email personalization efforts incrementally, not just through one-off tactics.

The report includes survey data from 506 marketers using personalization across multiple channels, 256 marketers using email personalization specifically, and 33 vendors providing some form of email personalization capabilities. Jones also interviewed 14 vendors and email experts.

So while some studies may show a decline in CTR, the message from this extensive study is clear. Personalization is the antidote, and the key to increased revenue.