ATLANTA,Aug. 15, 2005 -- Despite the proven value of targeting customers through email marketing, few retailers take full advantage the technology's tremendous potential, according to findings in Phase I of Silverpop's comprehensive "2005 Retail Email Marketing Study."
Silverpop analyzed the email programs of 175 companies, including nationally recognized names such as Crate & Barrel, Neiman Marcus, JC Penney, CompUSA and many others. The data in Phase I of Silverpop's study provides marketers with insights into how retailers deal with the three steps of the registration process. Specifically, the study covers how retailers motivate Web surfers to sign up for their catalogs, newsletters or special promotions. Phase I also reviews the type of customer data gathered during the registration process and how retailers handle confirmations. To download a copy of Phase I, visit www.silverpop.com.
Key findings of Silverpop's "2005 Retail Email Marketing Study" include the following:
Location of registration: The study found that a surprisingly large number of retailers who run email programs do not have a strong call-to-action for email registration on their homepage. In fact, nearly one fourth of retailers had no reference at all to their email programs on their homepages.
"Ideally, subscription action items should be located prominently on all pages of the Web site," said Elaine O'Gorman, vice president of strategy for Silverpop. "With the growth of search engine use, shoppers can arrive directly on product pages. If invitations for opt-ins are located on only one page in the site, chances are they'll be missed by customers actually seeking your products."
Incentives: The incentive used to entice prospects to sign up for emails can naturally have an impact on both the quantity and the quality of prospective customers. Forrester Research found that 50 percent of online consumers are likely to opt-in for discounts and 30 percent want alerts and tips. Yet one-fourth of the companies studied by Silverpop offered potential customers no explicit value proposition in exchange for providing an email address.
"The opt-in process should be viewed as a transaction," O'Gorman said. "The potential recipient is giving the retailer access to a valuable and limited resource--space in his inbox--and retailers who are specific about the value they will provide in return, be it discounts or alerts or tips, will have the greatest success in closing that transaction and building high-quality lists."
Registration information: Three out of four online email registration forms reviewed collected more than just an email address. Gathering additional data during the registration process helps marketers improve message personalization and targeting, dramatically boosting conversion rates. JupiterResearch found that 48 percent of companies segmenting lists by attitude, for example, achieved conversion rates greater than three percent. Only 23 percent achieved similar levels of conversion in absence of segmentation.
Some companies in the study used Web site registration to populate more than email lists. One in four alerted users that registering on their site would enable the company to send the subscriber materials through methods other than email, typically via direct mail and/or telemarketing.
Confirmation: More than half of the companies (57 percent) didn't send a confirmation message upon registration, missing a valuable opportunity to positively impact deliverability and avoid mistakes.
As Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey points out in his book "The Quiet Revolution in Email Marketing," the confirmed opt-in is the easiest and most effective way for a marketer to catch accidental opt-ins as well as identify mistakes such as address misspellings. On the surface, accidental opt-ins may not seem to be a big concern for marketers. However, if unwitting recipients begin getting emails they never requested, they will immediately brand the sender as a spammer.
Personalization: "Email provides marketers a rich opportunity to develop highly beneficial customer relationships," O'Gorman said. "Yet only 25 percent of the companies studied included simple personalization in their confirmation messages."
According to JupiterResearch findings, forty-two percent of companies using personalization in their emails achieve conversion rates of three percent or more compared to just 30 percent of companies who don't personalize emails.
Silverpop's "2005 Retail Email Marketing Study" findings present best practices and enable marketers to identify elements of sophisticated email campaigns that they can use to elevate their programs above the competition.
An overview of Phase II, providing analysis of the creative messages and layouts of retailers' emails, will be released by Silverpop at Shop.org's annual summit in Las Vegas, Sept. 12 to 14. Attendees should visit table display #15 at the Venetian Hotel to pick up a copy of the study. Phase III will be released later this year. To receive the entire study when available, register at www.silverpop.com.
Silverpop is a leading provider of permission-based email marketing solutions, strategy and services. Ranked as having the highest business value and richest feature set by JupiterResearch in 2004, Silverpop was also acknowledged by research company Forrester as a "strong performer" that "stands out with an interface that is quite easy to use while providing strong functionality." Silverpop helps marketers cultivate and maintain long-term strategic relationships with customers and partners by maximizing the potential of email as a relationship tool. Its flexible service model allows marketers to choose from full service or ASP and easily move between the two, making it an ideal solution for marketers at any stage of using email. Silverpop provides email marketing to industry leading companies including The Bombay Company, British Sky Broadcasting, Weather.com and more.