The beautiful thing about the email community is that we are constantly mailing, measuring, tweaking, and sharing results and insights. Here’s the latest thinking about effective and cost efficient email marketing.
Credibility and Use is High. eDataSource reports that 93% of Americans use email every day. 54% do it several times a day and 1 in 5 check it every hour. Forty-two percent of users surveyed admitted they check email while in the bathroom. Half of the survey group reported checking email from bed. There are virtually no gender or age differences in use, though teens are the lightest users. Email is like radio; sometimes overlooked or undervalued, but wildly popular.
Email is well accepted and welcome across the board. Epsilon’s deliverability benchmark is 95.6% don slightly from last year. Overall email open rates are 34.1% with a 3.1% click thru rate. Retailers and political mailers see opens of 22% with CTRs of 2.8% and 2.5% respectively.
Mobile is the Primary Inbox. 83% of consumers access email on a mobile device, either smartphones or tablets. Primary use is among 19–26 year-olds, though mobile email is a factor for every demographic segment. Mobile CTRs are 12.7 percent though mobile click-to-opens declined by 12.6% during holiday 2016. Assume the message will be seen and scanned while the reader is in-motion and/or not fully focused. Design email creative for mobile first and assume that delivery doesn’t guarantee opens, clicks or reads.
Everyone is a Subscriber. Almost half of US consumers (48%) subscribe to permission-based marketing emails. Surveys have found that 7 out of 10 consumers consider it their preferred communication channel for interaction with brands. Six in ten consumers subscribe to email from 10 brands or less. Between 50–75 percent of branded email includes a promotion. Gmail’s 2013 introduction of “tabs,” in effect automatic filtering of marketing and promotional email, has had minimal impact on attention and clicks.
One in three subscribers have a dedicated email account for marketing email. And between 25 and 30% of email users either switched their address or added a new one in the last year. Seventeen percent switch their email address every six months. So, assume consumers have at least a primary and a secondary email account and that your subscriber list is in continuous flux.
Subscribers are Skeptical. Consumers ignore or reject email that is irrelevant, is too frequent, or features products already purchased. They favor known brands, and open email on the basis of the FROM and the SUBJ lines. A third of email users decide to open strictly on the bass of the SUBJ line. The read rate, according to Return Path, was up eight points over 2015, with the highest rates, by industry, topping 50%.
Yes Lifestyle Marketing reported that opens in Q4 2016 were up, while click-to-open rates continued their downward trend. Opens of 15.4 percent evidenced consumers’ interest in holiday offers and deals. But lower click-to-open rates hints that not all offers resonate. Personal relevance drives clicks.
Deliverability is an Issue. The overall rate of SPAM complaints in 2016 was 13% of all mail according to Return Path. But the actual amount of SPAM could be as high as 49% of all email, according to Convince and Convert. Thirteen percent of all emails were deleted without being read. Some consumers, as many as 21 percent of all email users, report SPAM even if they’re not sure about it. From 6 to 24 percent of legitimate email ended up in SPAM folders, though just one percent was reversed.
Timing Counts. There is constant testing to determine the best day to email consumers. The latest research suggests that Saturday yields the best open and click rates. Friday and Wednesday have high volumes but low interaction rates. The trouble is that as soon as someone publishes this data, everyone switches to the “best” day, which is instantly degraded. Brands should test-and-learn their way into their own unique best response day, which probably correlates, to the natural rhythm of their business or industry.
Volume is Predictable. Email volumes vary by season with most brands carpet-bombing their lists during the winter holiday season. With an ROI of 122% four times greater than social media, direct mail, SEM or online display ads, brands are eager to capitalize on email’s broad acceptance and sell through.
Coherent Path found that holidays are the number one email trigger followed by repeating the timing, tactics and promotions that worked previously. Merchandise promotions and sporadic needs to drive traffic or create a sales spike round out the volume drivers. On a business-as-usual basis about half of brands mail one to two emails per week and the other half send three to four.
Personalization is the Next Horizon. Making email personally relevant, useful, and intuitively valuable is the next marketing frontier. The ideal move is to marshal psycho-demographic, purchase history, device and online use data about individuals. Then use this robust data trove strategically and persuasively to develop personalized creative and offers delivered at appropriate inflection points and on the right devices. This is much easier said than done according to Message Gears. But integrating data and devising smart segmentation to create a higher order of personalization will ultimately drive better consumer experiences, greater response and maintain email’s universal positive standing.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.