Retailers Facing Email Deliverability Challenges
Retailers send a lot of email. During last year’s holiday season, retailers sent around 10 different email campaigns a week, according to Experian Marketing Services. That's a lot of email! In addition, many retailers have strategic initiatives around sending email as part of an overall enhanced customer experience. There's a desire to engage customers for loyalty programs, personalized marketing offers, mobile-optimized messages and more. The success of all of these programs is first and foremost contingent on getting the message to the consumer in the first place.
A new Experian Data Quality report on email data quality finds that most retailers are struggling with delivering email. While 92 percent of retailers collect customer and prospect email addresses, 71 percent have experienced email deliverability challenges in the last 12 months.
These challenges are hurting retailers in a number of ways. Not only does it cause an inability to communicate with subscribers and add unnecessary costs, it also results in lost revenue. Email still remains the most popular method for communication. Without the ability to leverage this valuable channel, retailers are facing lost revenue and a poor customer experience.
One of the major contributing factors to email deliverability issues is poor email data quality. Internet service providers (ISPs) look at a domain’s bounce rate, spam trap hits and user interaction to determine sender reputation, which ultimately impacts email deliverability rates. When we look at stats from retailers related to these areas, we find the following:
- On average, 22 percent of retailers feel their email database is invalid or inaccurate.
- Thirty-seven percent of retailers say they hit a spam trap in the last 12 months.
- Twenty percent of retailers experienced complaints from subscribers in the last 12 months.
Retailers need to improve their email collection and database management techniques to avoid some of the challenges listed above.
First, retailers can improve email collection processes. The most common challenge for retailers when collecting email addresses is human error. That can occur from customers inputting addresses themselves or staff members performing data entry. Retailers should not only put a real-time check in place to ensure the email is valid while the customer is still engaged so that errors can be corrected before entering the database, but also before any poor email data is used.
The other area for improvement is email database maintenance. Most retailers do manage their email database in some capacity, but there's no consistency in how the database is maintained. The most popular method for managing an email database is to validate new email addresses. That said, the validation occurs at many different intervals.
Some basic steps every retailer should take that the majority are not include suppressing inactive email subscribers and removing hard bounces. Doing those two things will help dramatically — and don't cost any money to implement.
Inaccurate email data is a big problem, affecting not only a retailer’s ability to communicate with a specific subscriber, but also all outgoing messages. There's no reason for retailers to have almost a quarter of their email database be inaccurate. To maximize the effectiveness of your email program, start with good data quality.
Thomas Schutz is North America senior vice president, general manager of Experian Data Quality, a provider of contact data management solutions.