Responses To Three Key Trends Already Dividing Winners From Losers In 2015

Virtually our entire industry took stock of what we learned in 2014 and resolved to do something different this year. We’re eight weeks into 2015, and the leaders are dealing with sweeping trends that pose important challenges to email marketers. Others are falling behind, but it’s not too late to make up ground.

The Mobile Takeover Didn't Happen

If consumers had read the majority of their email on mobile devices, especially during the holiday shopping season, it might have simplified marketers' creative missions. But consumers didn't cooperate, reading slightly less than half of their email on phones and tablets -- roughly the same as 2013.

This means designing messages for a widening spectrum of screens, but the complexity doesn't end there.  For example, ecommerce shoppers are less likely to buy from phones (less than 2% convert, according to IBM's U.S. Retail Black Friday Report; tablet and desktop browsing converted 3x to 4x better), so messages opened on phones are less likely to directly drive revenue.

That doesn't mean the messages are wasted, but it does mean that subscribers who read them on phones buy differently than others. They have a unique purchasing behavior, which argues for treating them as a distinct segment -- which means creating customized campaigns for them.

...What  Leaders Are Doing About It

The proliferation of screens, devices and email clients complicates email programs, but winning brands are narrowing their focus by tracking subscribers’ preferences. Our research found that retailers -- especially apparel brands -- see far more subscribers reading their messages on phones than travel companies, for instance. It makes sense that high-consideration purchases are less likely to be completed on phones, but clearly device preferences influence buying behavior. This insight can simplify your planning and reduce the overall cost of delivering a great subscriber experience.

Mailbox Providers' Filtering Fractured Completely

As recently as two or three years ago, the same sending practices that helped deliverability at any of the major mailbox providers applied generally to the rest. That's been changing gradually. Today the same tactic that boosts inbox placement at one provider frequently has no effect on another; in fact it’s not unheard of for universally applied changes to correlate with improvements at some providers and declines at others. Increasingly unique mailbox experiences at providers like Gmail are creating opportunities -- or requirements -- to make email marketing campaigns even more provider-specific.

...What Leaders Are Doing About It

Progressive senders are increasingly segmenting their subscriber bases by mailbox provider, which solves a lot of the complexity introduced by a fracturing landscape. But there's a better reason to follow their lead: revenue. Getting more mail into the inbox probably remains the most effective lever to pull to get more performance from your email program. Tailoring campaign tactics to optimize deliverability at major mailbox providers can help lift a typical sender from the worldwide average inbox placement rate (IPR) of 86% to the 94% IPR threshold that high-reputation senders achieve: a 10% lift.

Email Fraud Diversified

We just marked the third anniversary of DMARC's launch, and the authentication-based security standard has been an unqualified success. In particular its adoption by financial services providers has drastically cut an entire class of email fraud in that sector, at least for brands that use DMARC. Inevitably cybercriminals took the same spoofing tactics that no longer work well on banks and began using them on retailers, government offices, media outlets, and other email senders with trusted reputations. In addition to finding easier targets, they modified their approaches, turning to more "cousin" or lookalike domains to avoid authentication-based detection.. They’re also attacking more targets and smaller brands than in the past. Many industries - especially retailers - have been slow to respond, sometimes banking on being overlooked in favor of higher profile victims. That's not a safe plan.

...What Leaders Are Doing About It

In just about every sector the top brands have already authenticated their sending domains and implemented DMARC. If you haven’t, catching up isn’t hard. It’s relatively inexpensive and it can detect and stop phishing attacks that spoof your domain. Your brand will immediately become a harder target for criminals to exploit and you'll gain deep insight into all the email being sent under your name.

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