Although August is the holiday season for most, the DMA Email Marketing Council is tireless in its quest to champion email and its dedicated members still met to discuss everything email, albeit with a few members missing.
The first topic discussed was the release of Return Path’s H1 2013 placements benchmark report and the headline statistic that 22% of permission based email worldwide fails to reach the recipients inbox. As a headline this is attention grabbing but we all agreed it appeared to be a much higher figure than anyone would expect. The figures for Europe (20%) and the US(14%) are slightly better but surely if this was true all our clients would be jumping up and down with frustration? Hence the questions arose regarding how and what data was collected. Is the date for retention or acquisition campaigns? Are the senders following best practice? Are purchased lists included in the data?
Fortunately, Richard Gibson of Return Path sits on the council and he was able to answer some of our questions after the meeting. The report was generated using Return Path’s proprietary email intelligence data from their own customers and although their are no exact figures, the vast majority would be retention campaigns. This means that purchased data and non-opt in is unlikely to have a significant effect on the report results.
So if we assume that the data used is a good cross section of retention opt-in campaigns, then we can only conclude that most marketers don’t know that 20% of their email isn’t making it to the inbox? Or here’s a thought. One reason to become Return Path certified is to improve your inbox placement. So a large percentage of data used may have been clients that had inbox placement issues to begin with so hence the higher than expected stats?
The other scorching hot topic for email marketers at the moment are Gmails new tabs and how they are affecting everybody’s open rates? Our own Philip Singh wrote a great blog post early this month explaining how the new tabs work. Most members of the council that use Gmail regularly said they really liked the new tab filtering. It helps with email triage and actually means you keep more promotional emails for future use because they are no longer cluttering up your inbox.
How has this change affected opens? Litmus recently released a report that shows that Gmail opens have dropped 18% since the release of the new tabs. Putting this figure in context and looking at the graphs in more detail, Gmail opens In July 2011 were 2.95% and this rose to nearly 5% in late 2012. After this they starting a steady descent to below 3.5% in May 2013 when tabs were released. So I’m not really sure this proves anything yet and more data is required.
Mailchimp did their own research and they compared Gmail open rates for the previous 18 mths (2.5 billion) with open rates around the 6 weeks that the tabs were released. They only saw a drop of 0.5% in open rates but this was consistent for a 3 week period. Return Path looked at read rates of engaged recipients before and after the tab release and noted a drop of 0.74% which is pretty consistent with the Mailchimp findings.
As ever we shouldn’t get hung up on open rates. Its engagement and conversions that matter. Only time will tell if the new tabs will have a long term negative effect. At the end of the day if the recipient is interested in what you are sending then they are likely to read it whichever tab it lands it.