Important Email Marketing Findings To Consider Ahead of the Holidays

Chris CrumBusiness

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Email continues to be one of the best ways to reach consumers, and thankfully, many of them are happy to get it from businesses they're interested in. This is good to know as the time for holiday marketing planning approaches.

To you intend to make email a substantial part of your holiday marketing mix? Let us know in the comments.

Recently, we looked at a study from Yesmail, which suggested that email marketers shouldn't be afraid of high volumes for the holidays. It found average monthly email volume increased 46% quarter-over-quarter for Q3 and Q4 2014 while average open rates remained steady at 15%. Meanwhile, holiday-themed open rates jumped from 14.2% in 2013 to 15.1% in 2014.

Digital River's Bluehornet has now released the 2015 edition of its Consumer Views of Email Marketing study, which surveyed nearly 2,000 consumers to gather insights into how they interact with and perceive marketing emails.

"So, what did we discover? Well, for starters, email is not only still alive, it’s kicking. Hard," the report says in its executive summary. "Consumers readily acknowledge the impact that email marketing has on their purchasing behavior. With the proliferation of mobile devices they are more connected than ever – with more than a third now checking email continuously throughout the day. And our target audiences are savvier than ever… they know what they want, and their expectations are personal. According to our data, consumers now expect us to understand who they are, and what they do and don’t want. They expect us to give them control of how frequently we email them. They expect a seamless experience across, and informed by, all channels."

"When we say the email channel is 'alive and kicking,' we mean it," Bluehornet says. "Our consumers acknowledge that they are impacted by what they receive every single day. They get daily emails from flash sale sites. They are connected 24/7 and receive personalized content from their favorite brands on most of those days. They are asked not only to convert, but to engage, interact, and share. Simply put, all this digital exposure means our audience is smarter than ever when it comes to digital communications. They’ve reduced the number of email addresses they use (who has time for all those accounts?), and use multiple devices to stay connected throughout the day. Today’s consumers expect personalized content and when they get it, appear to be happy with higher frequency."

The study found that the most common number of email addresses people have is two, while more people have three than have one.

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While many have multiple email addresses, most don't use a separate one specifically for marketing emails. 28.6% do while 71.4% don't. 39% check an email account where they receive marketing emails one to three times a day. 33.8% actively check their email throughout the day. Here's what the device break-down looks like:

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Another recent study from Return Path suggested that the frequency that generates maximum response without excessive complaints differs among brands as well as based on account type. It maintains that marketers can send more messages without suppressing response, but not necessarily to users’ primary accounts.

“As complaints increase, read rates decline with increased frequency, however the threshold at which more complaints offset the benefit of more reads is quite high,” a spokesperson for Return Path told WebProNews. “Among highly active email users, most tolerate up to an average of five messages per week before complaints offset increases in messages read.”

“Primary users, whose accounts are most actively checked, are the key audience marketers should optimize their programs for, as they represent the majority of reads as well as complaints,” they added. “Primary accounts make up only 24% of all email accounts yet they represent 83% of all messages read. While primary users are highly engaged, they are also not shy in voicing their displeasure, accounting for half of total email complaints. Secondary accounts holder, whose accounts are less actively checked, are more tolerant; they are less than half as likely as primary account holders to complain.”

The Bluehornet study found that most people prefer to hear from companies with marketing emails on a weekly basis, and by a wide margin. That's the preference of 43.8% compared to 18.8% for monthly, 14% several times per week, and 13.9% for every couple of months.

You can find the full 32-page report here (via MarketingCharts). There are a lot more interesting insights where these came from.

In terms of volume, another study from Return Path released earlier this year looked at consumer email behavior in Q4 2014 finding that people did not experience "email fatigue" during the holiday season, but instead welcomed more messages from retailers - more evidence that volume shouldn't be an issue for marketers.

Experian Marketing Services, looking at Q3 2014, found that both mobile device usage and email engagement were up with 53% of emails being opened on a mobile or tablet device. That number is likely going to be larger this year.

With that in mind, I'd urge you to take a look at this article: What Not To Do In Mobile Email Marketing.

In its holiday recap, Custora fond that last year, email marketing and search were the dominant marketing channels for the holiday season.

It's time to start planning for this year. First, you're going to need to get people to sign-up. Here are some tips for getting better at that.

Here are some ways to improve your open rates. Here are some more.

Do you expect to increase your email efforts for this holiday season? Keep them the same? Let us know in the comments.

Images via Thinkstock, Bluehornet

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.