120 Shopping Days to Christmas – Is Your Email Marketing Strategy Ready?

Market Research Insights

Email is at the heart of every retailer’s holiday marketing plans. With an ROI of $43.62 for each dollar spent according to the DMA, email marketing is cost effective at driving sales.

To ensure that your 2010 holiday email marketing is on target, it’s a good idea to understand the current state of email marketing before you start. Based on MailerMailer’s 2010 Email Marketing Metrics Report, here are some critical facts to bear in mind:

  1. Overall unique open rate is 11.2%, a 10 decline from last year although rates vary by industry. Small lists (less than 500 email addresses) experienced higher open rates than medium and large lists (more than 1,000 email addresses). This may be attributable to the fact that smaller lists are more targeted and have a greater connection with the sender. Marketers receive roughly 30% of total opens in the first two hours after mailing.
  2. Overall click-through (CTR) rate is 1.6%, down 42.9% from the prior year. As with open rates, these rates vary significantly by industry and smaller lists perform better than larger lists. Email messages with more than twenty links have a click-through rate of 2.9%, which is better than emailings with less links.
  3. Personalization in the body of the message, not the subject line, yield 7% better open rates and 80% higher click-through rates. Subject line personalization makes recipients think spam.
  4. More recipients use mobile devices to check their email. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep your subject line under 35 characters if possible. Also create content that can be read or scanned on a small mobile device to optimize your reader’s experience.
  5. Except about a 30% churn rate each year. According to email address experts, FressAddress, list owners lose roughly one third of their house file due to attrition. MailerMailer’s research shows that bounce rates decrease with additional mailings. This doesn’t mean you should over mail your list but rather mail at least once a month to ensure that your list is clean and up-to-date. Give readers a reason to let you know that they’ve changed addresses.

While social media is increasingly a venue for communications, other research by Target Mail, showed that email and social media usage tend not to overlap. (For more information, read this article.)

Use last year’s email performance as a guide, providing value for your readers rather than continually bombarding them with communications. While every emailing generates revenue, which is very enticing, especially if your revenue results are weak, it’s important not to mail your list so frequently that readers either unsubscribe or stop paying attention to you. Here are five suggestions to help you strike a good balance.

  1. Segment your house file into smaller, more targeted lists. You can use a variety of ways to divide your file based on past purchasing and customer interests. The goal is to make your message more relevant to your readers to ensure that they get read. Continually pushing a buy, buy, buy message may translate to good bye for your emailings.
  2. Keep your subject lines short and to the point. Your carefully crafted email may be read on the go on a mobile device with limited space and limited focus. Think like a magazine cover editor.
  3. Assess your content strategy across online venues and communications channels to provide consistent messaging with unique content for each venue. Your audience is thinking “What’s in it for me?”
  4. Use links to entice readers to look for more information on your company’s website. Remember you need to think broader than sales, sales, sales. Make sure that you’re considering your customers’ perspective and making reading worth their time.
  5. Socialize your email content. Let readers share your information with their friends and colleagues easily.

While it’s enticing to add emailings to your marketing schedule, especially as the peak of the holiday season approaches, remember that your house email address file is an important corporate resource.

Do you have any other suggestions to help improve holiday emailings? If so, please add them to the comments section.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Other email marketing articles you may be interested in reading:

Photo credit:  Futureshape via Flickr

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