Email marketing drives sales results and sometimes drives customers away

Discussion
Source: JCrew
Aug 25, 2021

While one might think flooded in-boxes overwhelm consumers, surveys continue to show email marketing can be highly effective for brands and retailers.

Litmus’ “2020 State of Email, Fall Edition” found that 78 percent of marketing executives indicate email marketing is vital to the overall success of their company, up from 71 percent last year.

Favorable findings have been found in past surveys of marketers including a Litmus survey from 2019, which found email marketing delivering a whopping 4,200 percent return on investment or $42 for every $1.00 spent.

As for consumers, a Pathwire survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S. and four European countries exploring email engagement taken last December found 78.5 percent want to hear from brands at least once a week; 51.9 percent want to hear from brands more than once a week.

Asked why they sign up for emails from brands, the top answers were to regularly receive special offers, cited by 56.4 percent; to get a one-off discount, 52.5 percent; to hear the latest updates (launches, news), 38.8 percent; and to get personalized recommendations, 20.1 percent.

Nonetheless, retailers are still scolded for excessive emails. The Pathwire survey finds 19 percent of Americans receive more than 50 emails a day. A host of consulting and software services offer help on subject line, call-to-action, send time/day, personalization and other tactics to break through the clutter.

In a recent article in The Atlantic, “What Are Stores Even Thinking With All These Emails?,” academician Ian Bogost wrote that more than half of consumers in North America say they receive too much promotional email. He relates how algorithms guided by online behavior surgically decide whether an email heads to an inbox or is junked.

“When a marketing email is effective, it feels great to receive,” wrote Mr. Bogost. “But getting it right requires an unlikely alignment of the stars: your shifting desires, the mailbox providers’ changing data and algorithms, the email-sending companies’ ability to cut through that murk on behalf of brands, and the brands’ ability to target you with relevant messages at the optimal moment.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the differences between getting email retailer marketing right and getting it wrong? Will email become more important or less to retailer marketing efforts over the next several years?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The difference between getting email marketing right and wrong starts and ends with the 'unsubscribe' button."
"Email marketing isn’t going away. It’s here to stay, and it can be an effective tool if you have the right people thinking about this in the right way."
"Personalization is mandatory for e-mail campaigns to be effective, driving whether consumers feel informed and appreciated or are prompted to hit unsubscribe."

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18 Comments on "Email marketing drives sales results and sometimes drives customers away"


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Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

The difference between getting email marketing right and wrong starts and ends with the “unsubscribe” button. The E-mail Frequency Threshold is a function of the subscriber’s impression of “too much” rather than a function of “daily,” “weekly,” or “monthly.”

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

Email marketing works, but marketers need to realize that it is one piece of the puzzle. The top of the funnel – awareness – can not be done through email. Many brands overdo email because they use email throughout the purchase journey.

Second is relevance and timing. It is absolutely possible, and much needed to understand every customer’s purchase intent and send email only when it matters, with the right frequency, with the product and offers that the customer is likely to be interested in.

But way too much of one-size-fits-all ruins the experience, which causes customers to switch off and ignore.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

So true, Suresh! Email marketing can be effective when done judiciously based on each customer’s purchase journey. Applied broadly, it becomes noise that gets ignored and tuned out. Like any tool in the quiver, you have to know when and how to use it.

Phil Chang
BrainTrust

So email marketing is still marketing. “Sending emails” isn’t actually a category and shouldn’t be an option. Normal people are frustrated by the number of emails because there is a lot of junk being directed at them. Seriously. JUNK.

Everyone can send emails but email marketers actually understand what needs to be put into an email so that a retailer’s target consumer likes the message they received. Lots of retailers do this well – and consumers are delighted to follow the emails.

Email marketing isn’t going away. It’s here to stay, and it can be an effective tool if you have the right people thinking about this in the right way. If you’re a retailer, sign up your spouse for your emails and you’ll know really quickly whether you have a good email program. 🙂

David Spear
BrainTrust

Phil – so spot on with your recommendation to send emails to your spouse, AND I would extend this to a close friend, to a colleague — and solicit their reactions. You’ll have instant feedback that will be highly valuable.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

The difference between getting it right and wrong is based on what a company’s customers want. Simply allowing the customer the option to select the frequency and content of the emails is a great move. Instead of seeing the emails as junk they would see them as something they requested. That alone would go along way between getting it right and doing it wrong.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

Personalization is mandatory for e-mail campaigns to be effective, driving whether consumers feel informed and appreciated or are prompted to hit unsubscribe. With the level of data driven customization consumers currently experience in almost every aspect of life, the tolerance for generalized and unrelatable email is almost zero today. The results of a well personalized email campaign are clearly outlined in this article. If customers find it relevant, it works incredibly well.

George Anderson
Staff

I’ve increasingly found that I give my mobile number to retailers and brands that I really want to hear from (a very small number) and everyone else gets my email. Most of those get trashed without opening. I think text, assuming the privilege of access is not overdone (yes, I know what happens when you assume), will increase in viability as a means of communication.

Jenn McMillen
BrainTrust

When I was over email marketing at my last two jobs, the absolute worst thing that my executive team could say to me was “email blast.” It’s short-term gain, but long-term pain, as I would watch the unsubscribes roll in.

Venky Ramesh
BrainTrust

In email marketing, needless to say, personalization is key. But personalization doesn’t mean just identifying customers by name – a truly tailored communication should be able to respond to the needs of the customers at a particular moment. The Holy Grail of email marketing in my opinion is being able to send more tailored communication, less often, more accurately targeting specific consumer moments to overcome information overload.

Ken Wyker
Guest

I love Phil’s suggestion to sign up your spouse as it gets to the root of the challenge and that is providing valuable content.

Email marketing is fundamentally different from other promotional efforts because the customer is in control. Too many retail marketers approach email marketing with their own objectives in mind, which causes them to fail to deliver on what the customer wants. When customers don’t feel served or rewarded, they stop opening emails.

The secret is to make sure that every time the customer opens an email from you, they feel rewarded and served. That’s where personalization comes in. Personalization can take regular promotional messages and make them feel more like a customer service.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

It’s a matter of balance. Too much of a good thing is no longer good. First and foremost, if you want the customer to stay engaged with you, send emails with content that they are interested in. Even the right amount of email fails if the content is off the mark. For at least the near future, email will continue to be important. Just make sure it’s the right email!

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

The keys to getting email marketing “right” include actual personalization and on TRUE interaction with a customer that lets she or he tell you what is working and what isn’t. Email marketing needs to be combined with SOPHISTICATED AI/ML, not just algorithms that spam consumers based on some lose word association. In other words your email campaigns need to be targeted to real individuals/households and they also need to be capable of learning what customers want and how often they want it. Unless email marketers wake up, and wake up soon, email marketing will become the digital equivalent of direct mail, just far less popular with shoppers and infinitely less effective – and that, after all, is setting a pretty low bar.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

The difference between effective and not is Relevance — in terms of message, frequency, offers and content.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Please. Don’t. Email. Me. Every. Day.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Ultimately I don’t think the difference between “right” and “wrong” is really different from any other kind of marketing — i.e. you have be offering something that people actually want. The problem lies in the obtrusiveness of the delivery.

And unfortunately, unlike newspaper advertising, but like radio, or tv or direct mail — but much worse — the more people flood our e-mailboxes with useless “offers,” the more likely the useful ones are to be overlooked … and the less effective the medium will become (those lofty claims of ROI notwithstanding).

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Relevance and not “creepy”. I find getting emails from Vendor B (that’s you Wayfair) when I’ve browsed a product on Vendor A’s website more than a bit unsettling. I guess I really should expect that ANYTHING I see and do on the Web is essentially public record.

Allison McGuire
BrainTrust

Keeping your email list fresh and taking the cue when someone isn’t engaging to remove them from your list is critical to the health of your email program. I see email marketing as retention and brand marketing. Staying in front of your customer and exposing them to your company, products, and services without being overly invasive is the key.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The difference between getting email marketing right and wrong starts and ends with the 'unsubscribe' button."
"Email marketing isn’t going away. It’s here to stay, and it can be an effective tool if you have the right people thinking about this in the right way."
"Personalization is mandatory for e-mail campaigns to be effective, driving whether consumers feel informed and appreciated or are prompted to hit unsubscribe."

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