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Retailers missing out on opportunities

Sydney, 24 September 2010 – As more marketers around the world embrace email’s effectiveness and high return onemail investment, retailers must now add inbox clutter to their list of challenges in driving revenue. To uncover the tactics retailers are using to engage customers, Silverpop® researchers reviewed the email marketing programs of top retailers in America, Australia and the United Kingdom. The findings reveal interesting similarities and some surprising differences.


Silverpop, an on-demand provider of an email marketing and marketing automation platform serving the needs of sophisticated, self-service B2C and B2B marketers, evaluated the following elements during the studies:


Whether a company offered an email program

– Location of opt-in

– Choices offered to registrants

– Percent of emails offering sales or discount incentives

– Number of emails received during a 30-day period

– Unsubscribe links leading to preference centres

– Personalised subject lines


Among the findings, Silverpop uncovered that in the United Kingdom, relevancy rules. Nearly half (46 percent) of the U.K. retailers reviewed allowed recipients to specify the types of emails they want to receive by offering choices during the opt-in process. In Australia and America, by comparison, only about one-third of retailers offered subscribers options.


However, American retailers were more likely to appeal to subscribers’ quest to find the best deals. Nearly nine out of 10 (87 percent) of the U.S. Top 500 retailers included sales and special offers in their marketing emails. But, interestingly, only 58 percent of U.K. retailers and 56 percent of retailers in Australia distributed emails touting discounts.


“A crowded inbox can be a noisy place, so retailers need to keep their ears closely tuned in to what their subscribers are telling them about the types of messages they want to receive and when,” said Jeff Clark, managing director for Engage Digital, Silverpop’s partner in Australia and New Zealand. “By carefully listening and tailoring their messages, especially incentives and special offers, to each individual’s specific interests, savvy marketers will ensure their messages rise above the growing din-becoming more than just welcomed, but actually helpful as online shoppers carefully consider purchase decisions.”


Relevant messaging also plays a key role in list churn, with email recipients citing a lack of relevancy as the number one reason they unsubscribe from email programs, according to MarketingSherpa. Yet marketers are overlooking an opportunity to prevent subscribers from unnecessarily ending relationships by not offering an option to change their preferences as an alternative to completely unsubscribing. Among the regions reviewed, retailers in America were most likely to connect their opt-out link to a preference centre, and yet only 40 percent of them did so. U.K. and Australian retailers presented this option even less frequently-28 percent and 22 percent of the time, respectively.

“Retailers around the world are missing out on such a tremendous opportunity to re-engage with subscribers,” Jeff Clark added. “By allowing recipients to make simple changes such as decreasing the frequency of emails, reconsidering the specific lists they want to subscribe to, or even just changing their email address, marketers can potentially save lists from shrinking unnecessarily and can even strengthen subscriber relationships in the process.”


Email frequency is another challenge for many marketers. It can be difficult to determine how many emails are too many or – as the Silverpop studies found – not enough. The majority of American retailers distributed five to 10 messages during a 30-day period, while most retailers in the U.K. and Australia sent between one and four. But far too many retailers didn’t send any emails within the first 30 days after opt in. One in five U.K. retailers failed to send any messages during the first month, while 14 percent of Australian and 15 percent of American retailers did not communicate with new email subscribers. Not sending any emails during the first month after registration can be just as harmful as sending too many.

Photo credit: Francesco Marino


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