Email Marketing Will Fail If Brands Can't Get The Rest Of The Process Working Correctly

by , Dec 16, 2013, 4:06 PM
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Brand-name inclusion in shipping confirmation emails produced a 7% increase in unique open rates during the third quarter of 2013, per an email study released Monday. That's all fine and dandy, but if email marketers can't get purchasing and IT on board to make sure there is available inventory, and back-end systems work correctly, you might as well hang it up.

Good new for marketers in Q3 2013. An Experian Marketing Services Q3 2013 benchmark reports that email volume rose by 12.7% in the third quarter compared with a year ago -- but more importantly for marketers, total and unique open rates rose 6%, compared with Q3 2012, while click rates fell. Some 57% of brands had a significant decrease in click rates this quarter.

Overall transaction rates fell in Q3 2013, but 49% of brands had significant increases in transaction rates in Q3 2013 compared with the same quarter in 2012. Transaction rates and revenue per email fell considerably for business products and services in Q3 2013, but the decline did not occur across the board. Some 71% of brands either matched last year's performance or had significantly positive increases compared with Q3 2012.

I'm looking forward to seeing the results from Q4 2013. I think we will find that many retailers dropped the ball in terms of not enough on-hand inventory and incomplete technology in place to support the rise in online ecommerce transitions. I found myself clicking through to the retailers or brand's Web site from the email, but when the site couldn't handle the transaction or the product went out-of-stock, although it had been seconds since the email arrived, I moved on to a search engine or Google Shopping to find the product elsewhere. Sometimes I went to a social site to check for referrals, references and product reviews.

In Q3 2012, promoting social media sites in email subject lines helps to promote cross-channel practices. A year-over-year comparison shows that subject-line mentions of Twitter rose from 8% in Q3 2012 to 41% in Q3 2013, while mentions of Instagram climbed from 3% in Q3 2012 to 30% in Q3 2013. Subject-line mentions of Facebook also increased from 76% in Q3 2012 to 87% in Q3 2013, but mentions of Pinterest fell from 9% and 5%, respectively.

The strongest cross-selling results came from emails featuring product personalization, while order confirmations saw the highest increase in transaction rates, from 0.65% with static cross-sell to 0.97% with dynamic cross-sell.

Open rates rose for consumer products and services, as 58% of brands had statistically significant increases in total and unique open rates as compared to Q3 2012.

Beauty and gift brands saw year-over-year declines in transaction rates and revenue, per the study.

For media and entertainment companies, overall year-over-year click rates were lower, but those in the quarter were the same as they were in Q2 2013.

For multichannel retailers in apparel and accessories, department stores, and shoes all had lower click and transaction rates in Q3 2013, lowering the overall multi-channel retail rates as compared to Q3 2012.

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