Silverpop uncovered some interesting results when it recently joined with Internet Retailer magazine to conduct research for the “Top 500 Guide” profiling the largest 500 U.S. retail Web sites ranked by annual sales.
To evaluate the email programs of the top online retailers, our research team logged on to the Web sites of 820 top retailers identified by Internet Retailer and registered to receive emails from each that had an email marketing program (94 percent of Top 500 companies vs. 83 percent of other companies studied). Then we compared the practices of Top 500 retailers to the other 320 retailers.
Among the findings:
- Not surprisingly, nearly six out of 10 retailers in the Top 500 offered a preference center at opt-in, while only one out of four other retailers studied did so.
- However, nearly three-quarters of the companies in the Top 500 with email programs didn’t offer customers any alternatives to unsubscribing, such as choosing different subscriptions or altering message frequency. And even more interesting, three out of four companies that had offered choices at opt-in didn’t offer to let recipients change those choices when they went to opt out.
- And the most surprising finding: one out of five companies that didn’t offer recipients any choices when they opted in to receive emails did give recipients choices when they tried to opt out. As a last ditch effort to keep subscribers on board, these companies offered to send less often or send different types of content.
While this may be a successful strategy for some companies that want as much freedom as possible in their frequency and content up-front, the impact of this tactic should be closely measured, since recipients may choose to hit the spam button instead of going to the trouble of unsubscribing, jeopardizing your deliverability.
While the study underscores that leading retail companies do optimize their programs for best results. It also reveals that even the best programs can improve and take results to new levels of success.