Commentary

Forrester's Email Report

Good news on the email front this week, at least according to a study released by Forrester Research called “E-Mail Marketing Comes of Age.” The report notes that email is now ubiquitous with 97% of all consumers, and 94% of marketers using email. This is up from a CMO Magazine study a year ago that stated 72% of marketers are using email as a marketing channel.  

Click-through rates have remained steady, about 5%, for the last four years, but those who do click through are the kind of customers marketers, especially retailers, are looking for. Those who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than those who are non-readers of email marketing. And an astounding 50% of those who open and read email marketing messages are more likely to purchase impulse items once they get to the site.

For word-of-mouth marketers, the study shows that three out of five people who forward email messages to friends are women, and that one-third of consumers who maintain a separate email address to receive email promotions are in the 18-34 year old range.

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So what does this mean to the marketer in general? I think it comes as no surprise to anyone working in the email marketing industry that email works. We’ve all known it for quite a while. So the value of the Forrester study is not to those working in the trenches. The value of a study such as this is ammunition for email marketers to educate upper management about the importance of this channel in reaching their customer base.

The biggest threat to email marketing is not spam, or delivery, or open rates, or click-throughs. The biggest threat is the lack of education of upper management on the importance of email as a marketing channel. If you are a retailer, especially, not to have a comprehensive email marketing plan in place is like leaving diamonds on the sidewalk.

And now that we have our “email marketing” quota for today’s article done, it is time for a little rare off-topic discussion. My family just may be the canary in the coal mine for a new trend: the return of radio as a family entertainment. Here is what I mean: I was the first guy in my neighborhood two weeks ago to buy an AppleTV. For those who do not know what this device is, it is an elegantly designed unit from the folks at Apple that connects to your stereo and wide- screen TV and streams all your media from your computer into your living room. I originally purchased it in order to stream my extensive music collection through my big magneplanar stereo speakers. I did try out the “TV” portion by downloading “Terminator 2” and an episode of the old Alfred Hitchcock show, and it worked great: the Terminator movie looked just like a DVD.

But the real eye-opener was this: my family sat around all Saturday morning listening to podcasts from our favorite NPR programs. We literally sat around the TV, looking at the screen saver while listening to “Fresh Air,” “This American Life,” and “Sound Check.” The next night my son and I were listening to podcasts of two interviews with authors and we were debating the relative merits of each one’s philosophy. And it was FUN.

Podcasts and iPods have always been a solitary experience. But the new AppleTV suddenly places radio content front and center in the family entertainment area. Looking at my 13-year-old, my 16-year-old, and my wife sitting in our individual Barcaloungers  (yeah, I know -- we’re sick) staring out into space and listening to the radio, I thought – Is there a golden age of radio in our future?

Every new device represents the possibility of a wave change that marketers should be aware of. AppleTV may represent a tsunami.

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