Family Feud: Email Edition, Email Industry Survey Answers


Earlier this month during the Email Innovations Summit 2020, we had some fun; we played Family Feud: Email Edition.

Armed with the results of our late May survey of the industry, we set out to see who would win a Family Feud game based on email industry survey topics. You may have heard that the game was a shut-out; the Email Commonwealth Family soundly beat the Email American Family (see the list of participants at the end of this post).

In case you didn’t catch the game, or even if you did and you want to see the answers to all seven of our survey questions (we only got to the first four during the game), here you go!

[Note: I fully anticipate a Family Feud: Email Edition rematch at Email Innovations Summit US 2021! But you may see it sooner. I was happy to share the PowerPoint template for the game with all who asked – not realizing until later that one of these people was planning to use the same “Family Feud: Email Edition” concept at multiple upcoming email industry conferences. Sigh. Just remember, you saw it at the Email Innovations Summit US event first!]

A quick note on methodology. The survey was promoted to both members of Only Influencers and the broader email industry via social media channels; we got about 80 respondents in total. Answers were open-ended short answer; when we tabulated the survey, similar answers were grouped together. We used the most popular answers, up to a total of eight, for each question. The number next to each answer reflects the number of survey respondents who gave that answer. Any answer provided by only one respondent was not used in the game; if there was a tie and we could not fit all the tied answers on the board, we did not use any of them.

Question 1: Which element of an email marketing campaign is most critical to success?

Copy of Copy of Family Feud 600 wide11What do you think, any surprises here?

I was surprised that 'Segmentation/Targeting' came in first place; my answer here was 'List.'

I often say that if you don’t have a quality email list nothing else matters, and I stand by that.

I was also surprised that 'Strategy' didn’t come in higher (even though it wasn’t my answer, but still) – but I am a bit biased, with a business built on helping companies with their email marketing strategy.

It's hard to argue with any of these answers. Without 'Deliverability' you aren't in the inbox and your message probably won't be acted on. Without 'Calls-to-Action' and 'Offers' your message probably won't be acted on. 

What was your answer?

Question 2: Finish this sentence. Email is…

Copy of Copy of Family Feud 600 wide12If I remember correctly, the first person to try to answer this in the game said "dead.” And then another player, when it was his term, tried to answer “dead” again. I think they just forgot who the survey respondents were; 'Dead' didn't even make the board. 

But 'Not Dead' did make the board. My first thought, when I took the survey, was ‘Not Dead’ – we combined it with ‘Alive’ when we tabulated. Nice to see that this was number one, but number two was pretty great as well – ‘Highest ROI/Money.’ I also liked ‘Essential/Key’ and ‘Awesome/Fun.’ I think email is fun, do you? 

Didn’t quite get the ‘Never Ending/Forever’ answers. Is that a riff on something? How did you reply to this question when you took the survey? What do you think of the answers on the board? How would you have scored? 

Question 3: What is your favorite thing about working in the email industry?

Copy of Copy of Family Feud 600 wide13Wow! Talk about consensus. ‘People/Community’ was both the most popular answer and what I responded.

This industry is special; competitors are friendly and we’re more than capable of ‘crossing the aisle’ to work together on things that benefit us all. This is one reason I love managing Only Influencers – we want to continue this tradition.

I can’t argue with the other answers, though. I do love the ‘Challenge,’ the ‘Constant Change/Evolution,’ the ‘Instant Results,’ and the ‘Measurable Success.’

How about you? What’s your favorite thing about working in the email industry? What did you answer on the survey? What would you have guessed if you'd been playing the game? 

Question 4: What is the most useful email marketing metric?

Copy of Copy of Family Feud 600 wide14Initially, we had a tabulation error here; we regret it and apologize to the players. 'Click-through Rate' and 'Click-to-Open Rate' were mistakenly combined, making that item the number one answer.

Here you see the corrected version – and I, for one, can’t find error with ‘Conversion Rate’ as the most useful email marketing metric. I always look to business metrics, like conversion rate, return-on-investment, and revenue-per-email, as key performance indicators.

Diagnostic metrics like open rate, click-through rate and click-to-open rate provide insight into how recipients are interacting with your email and you can use them to optimize, so I guess they are pretty useful too. And of course, you’re no where without deliverability. What was your answer? How would you have fared in this round?  

Question 5: What is the most effective but under-utilized email marketing tactic?

Copy of Copy of Family Feud 600 wide15I am disappointed we didn’t get to these questions during the game! We were only able to get through the first four questions during our Email Innovations Summit session. We all have our favorite tactics that we think people should use more, so this would have been interesting.

'Performance Testing' is easily my number one answer – how about you? I’m a scientific method geek, really love seeing if I can tweak and change what’s being sent to eek out a higher ROI.

I’m not sure I agree with 'Double Opt-In' being on this list. I was a big fan way back when, but unless people would have malicious intent in signing up for your list, I think it's unnecessary. In a recent post for my own blog I critiqued a small business’s list growth tactics – and double opt-in is one of the things that tripped them up.

So what say you? What is your most effective but under-utililzed email marketing tactic? 

Question 6: What is the most used but over-rated tactic in email marketing?

Copy of Copy of Family Feud 600 wide16Now the opposite of the previous question. Do you see the one item that made both lists?

It’s ‘Personalization,’ hmmm… and it’s in the top three answers in each! So where do you fall on ‘Personalization’ – which of these boards should it appear on?

‘Subject Line Testing’ was number one – not a surprise, I can get behind this. But surprising that ‘Personalization’ is such a close second.

Has the ‘View Online Link’ outlived its usefulness? Years ago I would have said yes; I feel like it had a renaissance in the early days of mobile, before we started widely using responsive design. What do you think? What was your survey answer to this question? 

Question 7: What is the top email deliverability myth?

Copy of Copy of Family Feud 600 wide17I was disappointed that we did not get to this question during the game! This was the first question I thought of for the survey.

What do you think? Are ‘Trigger/Spam Words’ the biggest myth in deliverability? I think it is.

Just last week on Twitter people were advising not to use the word ‘COVID’ in your email subject line or body copy, or your message would be redirected to the spam folder.

We discussed it with industry experts on our Only Influencers discussion list and people checked their own sends.

Verdict: Total myth, not true. ISPs have much better ways to filter out spam, they rarely if ever use trigger words anymore. You heard it here.

Thanks for reading our recap of the Family Feud: Email Edition survey questions! We had a lot of fun putting the game together, I know that the players had a lot of fun playing and the evaulations from the conference show that it was an audience favorite as well. Thanks, and shout-outs to all who participated:

Email Innovations Summit US/Virtual 2020
Family Feud: Email Edition Session

Host: Chris Marriott

Team Email America: Paul Shriner (head), Anthony Chiulli, Samantha Iodice, April Mullen, Ryan Phelan,

Team Email Commonwealth: Kate Barrett (head), Skip Fidura, Kath Pay, Dela Quist, Matthew Vernhout

Survey/Board: Jeanne Jennings