Don't Be a Turkey

In early 2011, eConsultancy reported that 72% of marketers believe the return on investment in email marketing outweighs any other direct marketing channel -- and 63% wanted to increase spending in email marketing. 

Has this happened? Year-to-date, at my company we are seeing a 38% to 45% increase in the volume of email being sent across our client base.   This trend follows the third successive year of 35% increase during the months of October, November and December holiday season. 

Years ago, Neiman Marcus, a prolific retail emailer, began tripling its email volume.  Most of the purest in the email space were shocked at this approach: more doesn’t mean smarter, right?  Honestly, from a consumer perspective, who wants an email every day from Neiman Marcus?  Well, it turns out millions did, and Neiman’s benefited from increased performance across the board.

Years later, we are seeing growth in virtually all vertical markets. Here are a few markets I think are driving these increases.

Retail:    Retail is enjoying the benefits of apps, social and better-thought-out mobile strategies to engage consumers more frequently in more ways. Some thought email would die when these channel competitors matured.  Yet, as we’ve said for years, connecting experiences and leveraging multiple channels is the key to a persistent promotional strategy. Email is a notification and promotion mainstay for retail -- primarily due to its cost factor to publish, but mostly due to the rise of the mobile inbox. 

Instead of surfing their laptops, consumers’ hub is now the mobile device; those long lines, red lights, and elevator rides have now turned into email /retail triage. 

There’s never a down-time for email for the retail sector.  The next stage is real-time content served at the moment of view.  When that hits scale, synched with the site and app experience, retail will hit another level of maturity in a connected marketing world. 

Financial Services:  On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five golden rings.  This is important, since it’s the only day of Christmas in that fable that has anything product/retail-related  (hens, pipers, maids, lords-a leaping are all about food and experience, not big purchases).  

While credit is a challenge for some, you wouldn’t know it by the amount of email most of us get from credit issuers.  The volume is scary.  This has its good and bad points.  The good is, as a consumer, there is more opportunity now to get more credit and deals on banking services than in the past few years.  The bad from a consumer experience is ,  you’ll get A LOT of mail about promotional offers, some well-thought-out, other not-so-much.    A $1,000 credit line doesn’t mean much to a high net income segment.  Expect lots of promotional offers, higher volume of mail from banks, insurance companies and “investment” outlets.

Media/Publishing/Entertainment:  This is a broad vertical that follow the same patterns.   The sheer volume of email coming from publishers and media organizations is at its all-time high.  Consumer attention span is low, but velocity of engagement is high.  This is driven partly due to the mobile inbox and ability to consume richer experiences  anywhere (shopping and search oriented) in shorter busts. 

That doesn’t change the monetization angle in the least.   While we’re seeing dramatic shift in advertising spend migrating its way to digital, the need to engage, segment and maintain high value viewers/segments is even more vital to those monetizing experiences for advertising sake and driving more relevant targeting segments. 

The key to this is responsible, yet prolific email marketing.  They need to know who you are, they need to maintain some response pattern and they need this persistently to drive higher performance advertising sales.   All this translates into lots of email, from many sources (first and third party).

While retail and financial services are all about the conversion.  media/publishing/entertainment is about reach and engagement. 

With all, you’ll expect a 30-40% increase of email in your inbox this holiday.  For marketers, this means more competition for attention.    If you aren’t connecting experiences (the site, the app, social, email) you’ll be hard pressed to sustain this type of growth with the performance regularity you expect without a pretty significant shift in operational scale.

Last message before Cyber Monday (Nov. 28, the highest-volume email day of the year): Dig in. Optimization amidst this increased volume will be easier and harder.  Easier, since you may have statistically larger audiences to -- but focus on the right engagement metrics and what they mean. The right velocity in the wrong direction, only gets you more work.

 

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3 comments about "Don't Be a Turkey".
  1. Rita Allenrallen@freshaddress.com from FreshAddress, Inc. , November 21, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
    We are seeing similar results from our clients’ engagement via email…and relevance is another component to loyalty and retention successes. Build it and they will come: It is never too late to build your email contact with customers and those with whom you have previously established an off-line relationship. Keep it clean: Rest assured that your message reaches your intended audience by hygiene-ing your current file regularly, as there is a 30+% annual attrition rate on email addresses. Happy Thanksgiving for expedient email! J
  2. Arthur Einstein from Loyalty Builders , November 21, 2011 at 12:08 p.m.
    David, What you seem to be saying is open up the spigot and keep the mail flowing - and don't worry too much about the segmentation, analytics and targeting because the guy who sends the most mail wins. Am I hearing you correctly?
  3. David Baker from Acxiom , November 21, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
    @Arthur: I've spent 10 years telling people not to do this.. I'm in no way advocating open the spigot, rather just stating what it will be this year and some trends in the space.... Right now, I'd out perform you by being smarter about timing, then fighting over which 20% off creative to use... which is where alot of productivity is lost.. I think there will be shifts in the next few years that will help us streamline productivity in email, which will translate to smarter marketing. But again, remember, I'm speaking about a broad industry, NOT just loyalty, if I looked at that specifically, I'd still say there's alot of work to do to optimize experiences for "loyalty" marketing and "rewards" based strategies... Driving to "First REdemption" is the key. Thanks for chiming in... we should definately meet sometime Authur...