Retailers are failing to deliver effective email marketing

Due to the exponential growth of communication our day to day lives have become saturated with marketing messages. This makes it now so more important than ever for brands to create engaging, relevant email marketing strategies. Consumers are much more likely to shop online or send an email rather than use the phone. Therefore you’d expect brands, in particular retail brands to have perfected the art of online communication. It appears not.

At eCircle we recently conducted a study of thee top UK retailers to analyse just how effectively they used email as a method of communication. To carry out the study we signed up to all available newsletters from the Top 100 Hot Shops/Websites as listed by the IMRG and Hitwise.

The results we surprising with many brands failing to get even the email basics right.

Here are some of the results:

  • Retailers that had option to sign up to newsletter but never sent any emails out: 19 per cent
  • Retailers that failed to deliver regular email communications: 29 per cent
  • Retailers that failed to send a welcome message: 60 per cent
  • Retailers that didn’t have a newsletter sign up option: 10 per cent
  • Retailers that had option to sign up but needed mobile phone number or credit card: 6 per cent

I’m not saying it’s simple but the fundamentals of email marketing shouldn’t be that difficult to get right. I’d suggest these three key steps retailers should take to improve their global email marketing strategies:

The three golden rules

    1. Engage: Customers are often most receptive to communication from brands after making an online purchase and engaging customers at this point is integral to any email marketing strategy. Relevant, personalised post-purchase emails that target the customer on an individual level are also critical in encouraging a second purchase whilst simultaneously reminding them of your brand and reinforcing the benefits.

    2. Remind: Show lapsed customers why they signed up to receive your newsletter in the first place. What did you use in your original message and can you try to re-employ this tactic to encourage users to respond to your emails now? Overall, make sure your email marketing campaigns are based around users’ identified interests. If this doesn’t work then it might be worth removing these subscribers from your list. A drastic step, yes, but it’s better to have quality over quantity.

    3. Reward: Identify frequent buyers and reward them with appropriate offers. You could set up a triggered loyalty scheme campaign where subscribers are rewarded with exclusive discounts, points for every £1 they spend or voucher codes if they spend a certain amount online within a set time.”

Regular email communication is intrinsic in engaging potential customers, rewarding loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases. The basics of email marketing aren’t as tricky as many people think, ESP’s are there to provide the tools and support for you to run your email marketing and as long as you keep the ‘three golden rules’ front of mind you’ll be on the way to email marketing success!

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Simon Bowker

About Simon Bowker

Simon was appointed UK Managing Director in early 2009, having previously been Director of Operations, UK and France.

In his role as MD, Simon is responsible for growing eCircle’s business in the UK, overseeing a team of 60. With over ten years experience in online marketing, Simon has advised on email strategies for clients including Samsung, Argos, HBOS, MBNA and Standard Life.

Simon has a wealth of public speaking experience and regularly delivers presentations at events throughout the UK including eCircle’s own conferences, Internet World, Technology for Marketing & Advertising and the Chartered Institute of Marketing Digital Conference to name but a few.

Before joining eCircle in 2002, Simon was previously Senior Project Manager at independent web development agency Hyena where he worked across a number of clients in the public services sector.

Simon joined the DMA Email Marketing Council as a co-opted member of the Best Practice, Data & Legal Hub in 2009 and co-wrote a revised version of the Email Deliverability Guidelines and was officially elected onto the council in February 2010.

  • Roanne Parker

    Is this the same post you added this time last year?  Or are the stats just exactly the same?

    • Simon Bowker

      Hi Roanne, 
      You’re right, the results are very similar… In fact so is the blog.. word for word to be precise.
      We’ve accidentally posted a previous article instead of the one intended.. Sorry about that. 
      intended blog post will follow shortly.. 

  • Drew Harding

    Hi Simon, nice post – quite shocking really isn’t it!

    I’ve been fully aware of similar failings from newsletters I sign up for and as such used my poor experiences to try and enhance the customer experience through email when working with a New Zealand Wine company recently.  I wrote a blog post showing what we attempted to achieve and how we enhanced the experience through email and it also shows the success (so far)!  I’d love to get your input on it and suggested improvements / general feedback if you have a spare 5 minutes?

    You can check out the blog post here:

    Regards, Drew