Las Vegas, Sept. 19, 2007 - Despite the fact that nearly every consumer on the planet now uses email, a Silverpop study finds email marketers still fail to implement strategies to maximize the channel in meaningful ways.
Attendees at the Shop.org Annual Summit were among the first to receive key findings from Silverpop's "2007 Retail Email Marketing Study," which reviews opt-in practices, message content, creative design and opt-out management of the email campaigns of 150 major retailers in North America and the United Kingdom. This is a repeat of the study conducted by Silverpop in 2005.
"Email marketing continues to grow in importance to both consumers and marketers," said Silverpop Managing Director Mike Weston. "Research shows that email customers spend more money online than their non-email counterparts, buy on impulse in response to email promotions and are more likely to tell others about the email promotions they have received. Clearly there's value in fine-tuning email marketing programs to generate higher response rates and greater financial returns."
The lack of any substantial data on the email marketing practices of retailers prompted Silverpop to undertake its first sweeping study of retail email marketing in 2005. This revised evaluation helps marketers understand the changes email has undergone during the past two years and enables them to evaluate how their companies' programs match up with current best practices. Silverpop's study reviewed the registration procedures, marketing messages and opt-out practices of companies including nationally recognized names such as Coldwater Creek, Hershey Direct, Marks & Spencer, American Girl and others.
Following are some of the key findings from Silverpop's "2007 Retail Email Marketing Study":
List growth continues to plague all email marketers, and including a registration box or link on the home page is a valuable method of adding to a company's database. Yet U.K. retailers are nearly twice as likely as U.S. companies to bury opt-in requests within their Web sites.
A key change Silverpop found is a dramatic increase in the number of companies requesting nothing more than an email address to register. In 2005, nearly four out of 10 retailers asked for name and physical address along with an email address, and 24 percent required more detailed information - typically telephone numbers, personal interests and demographic information. Only 37 percent requested just an email address, compared to 61 percent in 2007.
"Marketers are making it as easy as possible for consumers to sign on to receive email messages," Weston said. "Generally that makes sense. A robust email program can gather additional data from subscribers after marketers convince them of the value they receive from the relationship."
Email Content and Creative
With more email clients blocking images, the popular postcard-style layout has fallen from favor among emailers. In 2005, it was the format of 44 percent of the emails reviewed by Silverpop. This year, styles were more varied. While 26 percent of emails were postcard-style, 30% were designed like letters or newsletters, and 19 percent featured a single pane of text and art to top with rows or columns below.
While the layouts of retailers' emails have changed, the incentives to buy have largely remained the same. In both 2005 and 2007, three out of 10 retailers offer percent off sales; 11 percent offer free or discounted shipping.
Just as email marketers are making it easier to opt into campaigns, they're making it easier to opt out. In 2007, nearly six out of 10 companies sent recipients wishing to opt-out to pre-populated Web forms. Only 30 percent of companies did so in 2005. Yet a growing number of marketers have come to recognize that there are ways to keep consumers from saying goodbye forever by offering them choices. This year 32 percent of email opt-out links led to a preference center allowing registrants to make changes to their subscriptions. In 2005, only 12 percent did.
"Silverpop's study reveals that email marketers have made significant strides in the past two years, but more can be done," Weston said. "To continue making inroads into email marketing best practices, U.S. and U.K. retailers who aren't doing so already should not only place opt-in requests on the home page but should place them in a prominent location. Each person who opts in should receive a personalized confirmation message. Emails should always include a link to view the message in a browser, and marketers are wise to give recipients choices in addition to opting-out.".
Silverpop, a premier email service provider, supports the online relationship marketing needs of enterprise organizations by delivering the world's most comprehensive array of on-demand Web-based software solutions. Its software-as-a-service approach makes it easy and affordable for marketers to create, automate and execute lifecycle multi-channel marketing campaigns that are timely, relevant and measurable. Offering highly scalable tools supporting both high-volume BtoC marketing initiatives as well as high-involvement BtoB sales processes, Silverpop delivers a robust solution not available elsewhere in the marketplace.
With offices throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom, Silverpop is the only company that has appeared as one of the top two enterprise-oriented email service providers each of the last three years in JupiterReseach's annual evaluation. Silverpop provides online relationship marketing support to industry leading companies including Fossil, The Bombay Company, British Sky Broadcasting and more. Best practices and white papers are available at www.silverpop.com.