Category Archives: Survey

Benchmarking H2 2012 Report: The Email Renaissance?

Against a backdrop of headlines such as ‘Email Is Crushing Twitter, Facebook for Selling Stuff Online’* that can recently be found across the marketing press the DMA has just published the latest National Email Benchmarking Report for H2 2012. The positive coverage for the channel is not only very welcome after many years of “email is dead” reporting but highlights what regular Benchmark report readers already realise, that far from becoming an obsolete channel compared to its cooler digital cousin social media, the returns from email for generating measurable direct sales are unrivalled. This success would certainly seem reflected by the increasing numbers of email being sent,with a rise of more than 25% over the same period in 2011

The report does question if the direct sales focus is going to hinder development in the use of email to fulfil wider marketing objectives and harm the adoption of integration across channels, both trends seen in the last couple of years’ benchmarking reports. I believe if organisations can implement an effective planning, testing and agile deployment environment then the benefits of direct response revenue can be realised while developing email as a key component of broader consumer engagement. How is this starting to play out in the benchmark data? Take a look at the report to see!

Beyond the increase in emails sent some of the other report highlights for me included:-

  • The number of campaigns managed and customer contact frequency both increasing in H2 over H1 2012, somewhat expected given the success in direct response but also greater interest in more targeted and behavioural driven email helps in explaining the 35% rise of monthly campaigns managed.
  • The increase in the use of segmentation, especially in the mid level (4-6 segments) and while individualised communication remains challenging for many companies, due to lack of timely and complete data, it does again highlight the generally increasing sophistication of email campaigns
  • The increasing use of social media to collect email addresses. This is a simple, practical but effective example of ‘integration’ across channels, and helping contribute to the 36% increase in the number of email addresses that ESPs maintained from Q1 to Q4 2012
  • Deliverability continues to be a challenge and that’s before the effects of new smarter mailboxes, such as the Google tabbed system, really come into play. From Q2 2012 to Q4 2012, average delivery rates fell by some 3% for retention emails to about 94%. Over the same period, and despite contentions from the ESPs that Inbox delivery was becoming easier, the average inbox delivery rate fell to 90% in Q4 down 4% on Q2).

So just some of  the highlights, but with email marketing continuing to be such an essential aspect of a company’s successful marketing its worth checking out the full H2 2012 Report, and see how your programs and plans compare. Happy reading and please take the time to comment, it is always great to receive feedback and share opinions across the wider email marketing community!

* July 2013

Valuable Insights in the latest National Email Benchmarking Report

The National Email Benchmarking Report for the second half of 2011 has recently been released by the DMA and it once again provides marketers with valuable insights into trends and challenges within the email industry.

Join our good friend Mark Brownlow of as he delves into the issues facing email marketers and how they have changed over the years that this report has been produced.

The data for this report is sourced from a host of Email Service Providers representing the majority of ESP-sent volume within the UK, and features both quantitative and qualititative responses. Also, for the first time, we are able to present sector-level data for the Retail, Finance, Travel, B2B and Publishing industries!

As I’ve previously written about, these statistics are good as a starting point or yardstick for your programme, but ultimately marketers need to ensure they are tracking interactions as far as they can, and also fully understanding the metrics they are seeing. A great resource to use in combination with this year’s report is the whitepaper on Email Metrics & Measurement, authored by the experts which make up the DMA Email Marketing Council’s Legal, Data and Best Practice Hub – that way you can see what the trends are in the industry, identify how your own challenges compare, and begin to benchmark & prioritise your own programmes to maximum effect.

Perhaps you’ve laid awake at night thinking…

  • Are people sending more or less email?
  • Is there greater focus on segmentation, or has batch-and-blast made a comeback?
  • Is Deliverability still an issue?
  • How do response rates compare in different industry verticals?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in the National Email Benchmarking Report 2011 (2012 Edition)!!

How consumers interact with brands via email and social media

In 2011 a study on how consumers interact with brands via email and social media was commissioned, which reminded me of the importance of digital marketers integrating their marketing channels effectively.

Some key statistics were uncovered by the study, which marketers across Europe can capitalise on to interact and engage with their consumers within their preferred method of communication. Interestingly, of the European countries sampled, (France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and the UK), it was the UK that had the highest number of respondents ‘liking’ brands’ Facebook pages with 33%. In total a third of Facebook and Twitter users in the UK ‘like’ brands – more than double the number in the other European countries. In other countries less than 16% of users were signed up as ‘fans’. This highlighted the different levels of engagement with social media across Europe.

Email marketing was found to be the most popular digital channel with an average of 83% of respondents being subscribed to receive newsletters. Respondents from Germany, France and The Netherlands were the most likely to be reachable only via email, whereas in Spain, Italy and the UK, integrated communications, including social media, were the preferred method of communicating with brands. Across all respondents 95% said they check their emails at least once a day and 75% said they use email to receive social network notifications.

For me, the most important issue that marketers need to understand is why people are behaving a certain way via social networks and email, and effectively integrate the two channels to maximise ROI, rather than treating them as separate entities. Only 18% of all consumers said they only use email with the majority preferring to use a combination of channels. The study uncovered that there is currently a large gap between what consumers want and what marketers are delivering.

Due to the extensive amount of information gathered, this infographic has been produced to display all of the information and summarise the key takeaways.

In light of these statistics, are you tailoring your strategy to ensure you are occupying the right channels or driving your consumers to your desired location from the networks they favour?

Monitoring the flow – moving marketing messages beyond the inbox

The summer holidays are upon us; a time where people slow down and kick back, enjoying the (for the most part) warm evenings. For marketers, on the other hand, connecting to the customer on their leisure time is ideal for taking our messages to them in a personal fashion. The surge of social media usage has been viewed by some commentators as the savior of personalized online marketing – allowing brands to take messages to consumers on personal platforms which they can really connect with. However our annual e-Dialog Global E-mail Attitudes Survey has suggested quite a different story.

As many of you will know, I am a firm advocate of taking a holistic approach to marketing and considering all of the opportunities to engage with customers when planning an e-mail programme. This year’s results once again provided very clear proof that e-mail is the driver of so much more than just online sales. We looked at 13,000 consumers globally, across Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific and the results overwhelming showed that e-mail is a key tool for brand advocacy on other digital channels.

The trend was perhaps at its most prevalent in the UK where half of consumers had bought offline, in the high street or over the phone, as a result of receiving a marketing e-mail. However, more significantly, the results indicated the chain reaction of activity that is triggered by receiving a marketing e-mail. The research showed that 60 per cent of consumers would undertake further research into the brand as a result of receiving an e-mail and a quarter would connect further with the brand by signing directly into the product’s social networking site.

Considering that it has recently been suggested that social media is sounding the death knell for e-mail marketing, these results highlight how e-mail is in fact the starting point of the social media journey.  E-mail acts as a vital trigger for prompting sharing activity, and consequently aiding brand discovery and advocacy.

One of the main lessons that we can draw from this is that brands that still use e-mail solely as a direct-sales tool are missing a major opportunity. Yes, e-mail is a key means for driving online sales; but its full impact goes significantly further. Whereas calculations of ROI have traditionally been focused on click-throughs, open rates and sales, marketers now need to re-evaluate the success of the e-mail channel. While an e-mail will generate sales, the brand that has the mechanisms in place to draw people to a social network has the added opportunity to use email to prompt viral conversation and foster advocates who can spread the campaign message much further than an individual inbox.

At the risk of repeating myself, for me this research also highlighted the implications of not having a cohesive message across all marketing channels. On top of the 43 per cent of UK consumers who said they had already made offline purchases following an e-mail, 47 per cent said that they would be more likely to make e-mail-prompted offline purchases in the future. I am sure you can all see both the opportunity and the problem this poses. If a consumer is knocked off their feet by an excellent email marketing campaign, and then pops in-store to make a purchase, it is essential to ensure that there are consistent messages across all channels, particularly if the e-mail linked to a promotion.

Globally the research demonstrated consumers’ receptiveness to brand interaction, the challenge now lies in helping brands make the leap from viewing e-mail as solely the delivery mechanism. E-mail is a fully interactive medium that allows businesses to engage directly with the consumer, prompting the product research and links to social networks that are required to encourage brand advocacy.

“Email marketing’s £500,000 Monetary Penalty”

As a headline it would surely grab the attention. From Tuesday 6th April 2010 the Information Commissioner is now able to issue Monetary penalty notices up to £500,000 where companies persistently contravene the Data Protection Act.

Statements such as “I am trying to raise awareness not revenue” from Chris Graham, the Information Commissioner, suggest the probability of such a sanction for poorly maintaining an email programme is unlikely. This is backed up further by the guidance notes issued by the ICO.

However the change in the ICO’s power of sanction does provide a reminder to revisit the DPA principles and overlay them to your own data at a minimum. In fact it is a great opportunity to spring clean your programme, develop better targeting and improve the effectiveness of your activity.

The recent DMA National Client Email Survey reports that

  • Only 30% have a newsletter based on purchase habits
  • Only 43% have a contact strategy for the maximum amount of contact
  • 55% don’t know if they segment , don’t segment or have only 2-3 segment.
  • 77% are unable to track the value of an email

Even allowing for the fact that 62% of statistics are made up (source this is more thought provoking given that respondents to this survey are likely to be more aware of email best practice.

Feedback from the recent DMA/IAB Ready Steady email workshop is that whilst the “Do – Review – Refine” approach is acknowledged,  operational constraints often stop this from happening. People are too busy doing, to do it!

So how can the ICO’s new powers help you ?

 a)      Why to do ?  The ICO’s new powers provide the opportunity / alarm call to review if and how well you comply with the Data Protection Act – Which manager would not want an update highlighting the risks and proposed mitigating actions?    

 b)      How to do ? The DPA provides eight principles of good information handling e.g. personal information must be

  • 3. Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • 4. Accurate and where necessary kept up to date   
  • 5. Not kept for longer than is necessary.

It does not provide definitions of what “relevant” or “kept longer than necessary” means but it does provide the questions your company should define and can highlight where you can be more effective.

For example

  • Relevant -  Does your sign up form collect information that you are not sure how you are going to use ?
  • Excessive -  Can you tell / control how often you email individuals ?
  • Up to date -  Can you confirm / prove opt in initially and how do you define it ongoing ?
  • How long is it kept for – Do you set a date for a different approach for non openers / purge them after x months, keep mailing them in the hope that they will open one day?         

Whilst the ICO’s new power of sanction headlines are moving data protection up the board agenda it provides a great opportunity to review and improve your email activity.

Infobox November 09 | The postal strike – good or bad news for email marketing?

Welcome to the November 2009 issue of Infobox. As autumn has well and truly arrived, kick back, warm your hands in the glow of your PC, sip from a mug of hot chocolate and read about the latest news and views from the world of email marketing. This month, Infobox features articles on whether or not the Royal Mail postal strikes will have a positive effect on the email sector; taking a consumer’s eye view at email marketing messages; advice on when to use the word ‘free’ in subject lines; and a review of a recent email marketing campaign that’s impressed us. For DMA members’ eyes only, this month’s special report looks at the effectiveness of using navigation bars in email templates.

Don’t forget that we’d also like to see you in the real world at the first of our four Email Customer Lifecycle seminars. On November 10, we will be addressing tactics for growing your lists with active and engaged subscribers. Tickets are going fast for this free morning seminar in central London. To guarantee your seat today, please make your booking here.

Also, now is your chance to take part in fast.MAP/DMA’s 2009 Marketing GAP study. This vital piece of research measures the gulf between what consumers think of marketing messages and what marketers think they think. Sounds confusing? Well it’s not, and if you take part then you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win £250 for your favourite charity. To start this short survey, please click here.

Our articles this month include:

Postal strike – good or bad news for email marketing? Simon Bowker

Research from my inboxJames Bunting

Free email marketing deliverability advice – when to use ‘FREE’ Chris Combemale

Campaigns we like – Firebox denise cox

Consumer Views on Email Marketing 2009, a white paper

For me research is like seminars and events; it’s an opportunity to see what others are thinking, check your understanding and often come away with new ideas. Most of the research I’ve come across recently seems to be collected from either email marketers (users) or service providers. Indeed the email marketing council’s research does just that, survey client attitudes once a year and ESP (service provider) metrics once a quarter.

However this latest piece of research from Emailcenter actually surveys consumers or recipients of email marketing and therefore makes for very interesting reading.

The report provides further evidence amongst its three key findings, along with suggested strategies for improvement and case studies that act as excellent real world examples from leading brands that illustrate the strategies and how they overcame the challenges. For example, a key issue and a debate that has been had on this blog and amongst email marketers is around mailing frequency. The report identifies the recipients thoughts on frequency, the case at the organisation level as to why this happens and how for Toptable decreasing frequency actually led to an increase in sales.
Reading the report I found plenty to agree with, the report is well written and very clearly laid out, with the key findings made very succinctly.

Thanks to Emailcenter for sharing their research with DMA members. To download a copy of the white paper click here (requires log in).  Mark Brownlow from Email Marketing Reports, also picked up on this research and has blogged about it here.

Reminder: if you are a client email marketer then click here to participate in the current survey, which is open to non-members.  

Richard Gibson
RSA Direct