Marketers that are finding it hard to get noticed in the inbox have a couple of culprits to blame.
Nordstrom dominated the email space in terms of sheer frequency last year, according to a study released last week by EmailTooltester. Fashion Nova was second among retailers.
EmailTooltester describes the messages as marketing newsletters, which does not necessarily mean newsletters in the strict editorial sense.
Here is the list of contenders, with the number of emails they sent from May 1-December 5, 2022, and the percentage sent on Black Friday:
To break it down further, Nordstrom sent an average of 91 emails per month, 13 a week and two a day.
Now you may ask: How does EmailTooltester know all this? Simple: It subscribed to 42 retail marketing newsletters, then monitored what came in.
But here’s where we run into a problem: The team also unsubscribed from all the emails after the analysis period was done. But several continued emailing them.
After following detailed instructions, the EmailTooltester team still received marketing newsletters from Nordstrom, Kohls, H&M and ASOS, and “still had communications land in our inbox despite pressing the ‘unsubscribe’ icon that Gmail provides.”
H&M continued sending until January 1, “nearly a month after we unsubscribed,” and ASOS, Nordstrom and Kohls are still sending them to date.
Unsubscribing wasn’t very easy in some cases.
“For American Eagle, Costco, and Walmart we had to click unsubscribe at the bottom of the email, and then we were redirected to the website to confirm the unsubscription,” the report states. It continues, “For eBay and Wayfair the process required three steps, meanwhile, Walgreens had five steps you had to follow before you could unsubscribe from their newsletters.”
This is important given the level of clamor about privacy. On Wednesday, New York Times technology writer Brian X. Chen noted that consumers often turn over their email address without hesitation when asked by companies. e
But the report continues: “First, it helps to know why companies want email addresses. To advertisers, web publishers and app makers, your email is important not just for contacting you. It acts as a digital bread crumb for companies to link your activity across sites and apps to serve you relevant ads.”
Meanwhile, when it comes to creative, many of the retail brands studied by EmailTooltester communicated urgency in their emails.
For instance, Nordstrom used the word “limited” a staggering 255 times, compared to 233 for Dollar Tree, 207 for Kohls, 141 for Costco and 107 for H&M.
In addition, Fashion Nova used the buzzwords “last chance” 45 times, while Nordstrom used them 23 times, Dollar Tree 18, Farfetch 8 and H&M 5.
Similarly, Fashion Nova used “don’t miss out” 30 times, versus 21 times for Farfetch, 7 for AllSaints, 5 for Everlane and 5 for Zappos.
Then there were the words that communicated exclusivity. Office Depot used the word “exclusive” 243 times, Kohl’s 224 times, Nordstrom 141, Costco 68 and Gap 61.
And H&M inserted the phrase “for you” in 107 emails, compared to 49 for Kohl’s, 37 for Michaels, 24 for AllExpress and 19 for AllSaints.
Which service providers were used? Emails came from these vendors during the test period:
What a dreadful perversion of the onetime "velvet gloves" service at Nordstrom.