Do your email subscribers find your marketing emails useful? I ran across a statistic from Fluent that suggests consumers think marketing emails are consistently useful only 15% of the time and not useful nearly 60% of the time. So how do you ensure your email program falls into the first category? By ramping up your sophistication.
I recently presented a session on “Why Your Email Program Sucks.” My goal: Offer my own research on where email marketing is lacking and make the group stop and think about their own brand’s email experience. To provide authentic examples, I signed up for the email programs of five well-known brands, using the same 5-7 email addresses. I wanted to not only assess their effectiveness, but how each company used the information I provided (at sign-up, via the preference center, my click, browse and purchase data) to better target me.
With one email address, I never opened a message. With another, I consistently opened but never clicked. For another, I opened and clicked on the same link in every message. I also used the accounts to manage my preferences, abandon my shopping cart and make purchases. Here are a few questions I wanted to answer:
- Did the brand differentiate itself from competitors?
- Did they influence me to purchase?
- Were the messages timely and relevant?
- Did they incorporate my purchase behavior?
- Three of the five brands asked for my gender at sign-up. None customized the welcome message or series based on that information.
- Only one brand sent a traditional welcome series. It was four messages long and contained a social invite and a message inviting me to manage my preferences.
- One brand sent me a welcome message every single time I filled out a form and, for some reason, even sent one after I abandoned my shopping cart (two weeks after my original sign-up).
- One brand sent two welcome messages. The initial message sent with a from name of “online” was in plain text and included no call to action. A well-designed, branded welcome was sent two days later.
General Messaging and Segmentation
- Send cadence to the various email addresses was almost identical, regardless of shopping behavior. Only two brands had slight variations.
- Only two of the five brands sent mobile-friendly emails. I was stunned!
- No brands included product recommendations in their emails.
- Almost all messaging was batch-and-blast.
- Only one company sent me gender-based messaging more times than not.
- Email open or click activity did not affect the marketing strategy for any of the five brands.
- One company signed me up for three sister brands (all related to children) – but it was not for the address that clicked the maternity link in every email.
- Only two brands had a cart recovery strategy. One had only one message, while the other sent two.
- None sent browse recovery messaging.
- No brand included a true post-purchase series.
- One brand sent me two product review messages on the SAME day. I should note these came two days after the company issued a return label to me.
- Only one brand had optimized their transactional messaging by including sister-brand promos in the message.
One Not-so-fun Fact
- One company removed my email address altogether after I updated my preferences. It was also the email from which I opened and clicked on every single message.