Lessons in Email Marketing From the Top 500 Internet Retailers
According to eMarketer, 73 percent of in-house marketers believe email marketing provides strong return on investment. However, even the best email marketing programs are useless without the right subscribers. For the past three years, we’ve collected data on how the top retailers go about the process of collecting email subscribers, including the discounts they offered upon signing up, what personal data they collected, and more.
Before diving into how, though, we must determine who. Who is the modern email user? What are their habits? We went back to our friends at Adestra to see what it discovered in its 2017 Consumer Digital Usage & Behavior Study, a survey comprised of 1,245 U.S. consumers aged 14-67. The study found that more than seven in 10 survey respondents chose email as the preferred method of communication with a brand. The study also found that Gmail was the dominant mailbox provider among all age groups.
Discounts, Discounts, Discounts
It’s no secret that people like to get something in exchange for giving something — your customers are human after all. Our 2017 analysis revealed that 48.3 percent of retailers incentivized consumers to sign up for their emails, up 10 percent from 2016. Percentage-off offers were the most popular incentive, followed by free shipping, dollar-off promotions and sweepstakes opportunities. Additionally, we found that 10 percent off was the most common percentage off incentive, followed by 15 percent off and 20 percent off. What do consumers expect when signing up for marketing emails, and what kind of experience are retailers providing? According to Adestra’s 2016 survey, 85 percent of those surveyed signed up to receive discounts, 41 percent did so to get product and service updates, and 38 percent because they love the brand.
Some retailers allow consumers to sign up for emails via social media. This approach allows consumers to use their profile from a social networking site as a means to create an account with the retailer. We found that only 29.5 percent of retailers that offer email sign-up allowed for a social sign up, down about 5 percent from 2016. Of those offering a social sign-up option, we counted eight potential account types, the most popular being Facebook, Google and Twitter. Through the Facebook social sign-up, the most common request was for access to a consumer’s Facebook profile (98.6 percent). Surprisingly, we found only 86.8 percent wanted an email address through Facebook, a substantial drop from last year’s 97 percent.
Who and Where Art Thou?
In the 2017 survey, we found that only 29.5 percent of retailers offering email sign-up asked for a name, down 10 percent from 39.8 percent last year. Other types of data collection included location (16.8 percent), birthday (10.7 percent) and gender (10.3 percent). For all data points besides gender, which stayed flat, the request for personal information decreased from 2016. This can possibly be attributed to the desire to minimize friction in the sign-up process.
What Does it All Mean?
For retailers looking to up their email marketing game heading into 2018, the implications are many. With Gmail being the most popular email service provider, optimizing messages for Google is highly advisable. Offering an incentive, whether it be a discount, free shipping or a chance to win a prize, proves to be the fastest way to grow your email marketing list. Additionally, offering a social sign-up option and reducing the number of personal questions asked could be beneficial for consumers that would like a quick opt-in process.
Joe Montgomery is the vice president of marketing at 250ok, an email analytics and deliverability platform.
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