The Value Of Rendered Email

In the Email Experience Council's most recent survey,  the Retail Email Rendering Benchmark Study , we estimated that email's ROI would jump to $52.69 for every dollar spent on it from the current DMA-estimated $48.29 if all marketers optimized their emails for image blocking. That's a pretty compelling 9.1% improvement -- and we felt that it was a pretty conservative estimate.

We arrived at that number by looking at data from the March survey of 472 marketing executives that we did with SubscriberMail. When it comes to designing for images off, only 47% of the survey respondents said that their company had taken action. Those actions ranged from adding alt tags or a "click to view" link to minimizing images above the fold.

For instance, 76% had added alt tags to the images in their emails; 76% had added a "click to view" link to their preheader text; 48% had minimized images above the fold; and 32% had added a preheader message that summarized the main call-to-action.

Nearly 81% of those who had taken action had tested to see whether the changes they made produced results. Of those, 32% have seen more opens, 32% have seen more clickthroughs, and 17% have seen more conversions as the primary benefit -- with 47% seeing at least a 10% improvement.

One of the EEC's Email Performance Award finalists, REI, saw results that were just about on par with our estimated improvement when they redesigned their email template, optimizing it for images off, among other concerns. They saw their unique click-through rate rise 22% and revenue per email rise 11%.

But we call the estimated benefit of optimizing for images off conservative because of anecdotal evidence that suggests that the benefits can be much higher than that in some cases. For instance, one of our 2008 Email Performance Award nominees, hunting retailer Legendary Whitetails, saw big improvements across the board when they pulled the primary text of their emails out of the images they were using and used HTML text instead. In a split A/B test vs. the original image-based email, the optimized email saw deliverability increase from 78% to 98%, opens climb from just under 10% to over 13%, clicks go from 3% to nearly 5%, and conversions jump from 0.4% to 1.5%. All together, those increases led to a nearly 400% increase in revenue.

If you redesign your emails with image suppression in mind, will you see a 9% improvement or 400%? I don't know, but with a potential jackpot like that sitting in your email program, why wouldn't you take the time to test the addition or optimization of HTML text, alt tags and preheader text



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