Listen Up, Marketers - Email Personalization Should Reach Across Platforms

Marketers may listen to consumers, but they don't often hear them. Only 7% market to potential and existing customers, based on their communication preferences and needs, per a study.

The Experian Marketing Services Email Market Study, reviewing growing trends, stats and key best practices within 2013, found that marketers get so caught up trying to get promotions out the door, they ignore longer-term programs that can improve their bottom line.

Standard promotional emails have a 0.06% response rate and earn $0.06 in revenue per email. Those "Thanks for joining us" emails kicking off a welcome series have a 0.95% response rate and earn $1.29 in revenue per email. Paying closer attention to how consumers interact and on the devices they do so can increase interactions and conversions, per Experian Marketing Services.

While the overall number of potential creative combinations can quickly become rather daunting, the use of multivariate testing reaches consumers the way they want to connect with the brand. Plus, it will reduce the number of test combinations to a more reasonable number. In fact, a properly designed multivariate test can reduce the number of combinations from 80 to as few as 16, per the study.

The use of responsive design within email, which doubled since 2012, can also help. As mobile email continues to rise, more marketers realize the templates automatically adjust the layouts or grids to render a consistent experience for customers across platforms.

Some 65% of brands have a mobile site today, and 19% more plan to launch one within the next year, according to Experian Marketing Services. The report points to brand case studies testing responsive design that show up to 63% increases in click rates and 18% in transaction rates.

It has become an art form optimizing emails for responsive design, but many marketers view it as a compromise in design integrity. The challenges surface when using Web-based apps like Gmail and Yahoo, because they don't always recognize the additional CSS coding needed to make these emails responsive. They could open the desktop version instead. Gmail is starting to show some compatibility, according to the report, but rendering issues continue, even as mobile email use rises.

Personalized emails generate six-times higher transaction rates, compared with non-personalized. They also have dramatically higher unique open and click-through rates. In fact the study suggests it can generate 25% higher unique open rates and 51% higher unique click rates.

Also, personalize emails can dramatically increase engagement and transaction rates. Personalized promotional mailings have 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings.

For promotional mailings, personalized emails generate transaction rates and revenue per email that is more than six times higher than non-personalized emails. Personalized, trigger campaigns result in more than double the transaction rates of non-personalized, trigger mailings.

About 41% of brands admit to using recommendation engines to enhance transactional emails such as order and shipping confirmations.

Marketers have a chance to reach new customers. Experian Marketing Services defines only 34% of the U.S. population as brand loyalists, and 80% of brand loyalists claim they don't purchase from unknown brands merely to save money.

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