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email

Think email’s dead when it comes to marketing? Think again

Email marketing can arguably be seen as the great grandfather of internet marketing or at the very least the great grandchild of the knock-and-drop mass produced leaflet depending on your point of view of course. No matter your point of view though, email marketing is still one of the strongest forms of B2B marketing today.

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan is the Head of Digital Marketing for HKLM. Jonathan's work at HKLM includes... More

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eMarketer recently released its email benchmarking survey of 2012 and there are some very interesting conclusions to draw from their data. First let’s look at the open rate; clickthrough and non-bounce rates for emails in the US over the last nine quarters.

email marketing benchmarks

The thing to note here is the incredibly high open and non-bounce rates of the mails. Essentially what this means is that on average around 23% of all emails are being opened; while an average five percent of them are actually being clicked on. This number is quite substantial when you consider that a click rate of three percent is considered good for Google AdWords.

Where are emails being read?
Now over the last few years, mobile adoption has literally gone through the roof. Nearly every smartphone is connected to an email account and users are checking their mails on the go. But surely on-the-go users will just skip past the marketing mails and only reply to their core business mails? Well in part yes, but not as much as you would think.

The graph below shows that while the lion’s share of open rate goes to the “desktop”; a whole fifth of the emails are still opened on a mobile device — not a tablet — a mobile phone or smartphone. Only 6.76% of the opens are from a tablet device. Both the mobile and tablet numbers are growing substantially.

email benchmarks 2

Which emails are working the best?

It stands to reason that those industries who are focused on emailing everyday consumers are going to be doing well in terms of email marketing. Coupons and special offers are always a great way to bait subscribers in to clicking on a link embedded in your mail. According to the eMarketer report, the Financial Services Industry (particularly credit cards) boasted the highest open rate of 38.4% and click rate of 5.4% over Q1 in 2012.

What the report does not go into too much detail about is how many of these particular mails were rendered and opened on a mobile or tablet device.

What about when it goes wrong?

When putting together email marketing campaigns it is critical to ensure that your mail will render and open properly on a mobile or tablet device. If this is not the case then chances are that your click rate will take a massive drop.

email benchmarks 3

The interesting this for me here is the 17.7% who view it on their mobile — realise that they cannot see it properly — and then go and view it on their desktop where it will render properly. I think we can safely say that this number is going to be dramatically less when this survey is done again in the future. The tolerance for users putting up with a “poor user experience” is drastically diminishing by the day.

Where is email marketing headed?

The really important thing to realize with email marketing, or indeed any marketing, is that it is not a standalone tactic. It needs to be properly integrated to the rest of your campaigns to ensure that the click through and conversion rates are as high as they can possibly be.

This means that email marketing should be integrated with social media marketing; mobile marketing; search marketing and display advertising. The reason for this is: data. There are a significant number of data points that a marketer has access to and should be using in putting together their targeted email campaigns. These data points make it that much easier to identify who needs to hear what messages when.

Some of these data appoints include:

  • Demographic data
  • Customer transaction data
  • Customer usage data
  • Social media data
  • Customer interaction data (incl. platform preference)

In short, the advance of the email marketing phenomenon has been powered by the consumerisation of IT and the swell of Big Data analytics that is making it easier to ensure that you as a consumer hear only the messages that you want to hear, when you need to hear them.