ATLANTA, Sept. 12, 2005 - While retailers clearly embrace the power of email marketing, a Silverpop study finds many of them have yet to take full advantage of the technological power and creative potential offered by the medium.
Attendees at the Shop.org Annual Summit will be among the first to receive key findings from Phase II of the company's "2005 Retail Email Marketing Study," which reviews message content and creative design of the email campaigns of 175 major retailers. Phase I, released earlier this summer, identified registration practices of retailers. Silverpop will distribute an overview of Phase II of the study Sept. 13 and 14 at the company's display on the Shop.org exhibit floor.
"Many marketers already use email to drive incremental revenue," said Bill Nussey, CEO of Silverpop. "But in order to achieve maximum impact and firmly establish a solid, revenue-producing relationship, companies must deliver such high customer value in their emails that customers actually anticipate receiving the next message. Successful programs combine compelling calls-to-action, rich, eye-catching imagery and appropriate timing to reach consumers when they are most ready to buy."
The lack of any substantial data on the email marketing practices of retailers prompted Silverpop to undertake its sweeping study. The goal of the study is to help marketers better understand the state of the art of email marketing and be able to evaluate how their companies' programs fit into the overall industry landscape. The project reviewed the registration procedures, marketing messages and opt-out practices of companies including nationally recognized names such as Crate & Barrel, Neiman Marcus, JC Penney, CompUSA and many others.
"The range of practices is quite striking. When we reviewed the creative elements of hundreds of email campaigns, we found stellar examples that truly maximize the medium right alongside well-meaning but misguided attempts to force traditional print formats into the email channel," Nussey said. "Too many retailers fail to capitalize on the unique persuasiveness of the medium obtainable through rich content and highly personalized dynamic content, and as a result, suffer deliverability issues, poor brand image and sub-optimal returns."
He said that to capture a greater share of online sales, many marketers need to take their email programs to a higher, more aggressive and results-oriented level. Silverpop's study found the following areas for improvement.
Stop selling to strangers: Most retailers studied failed at the most basic and easiest way to reach out and connect with customers: personalization. Silverpop found that 95 percent of the emails had no form of personalization even as simple as the recipient's name. However, while failing to address customers by name, retailers worked hard to showcase their own. Three out of four companies positioned their logo prominently above the fold, a best practice to increase recognition and improve readership.
Offer a reason to buy: When it came to offering reasons why customers should make a purchase, one in four retailers included discount offers in their emails, but slightly more (27 percent) offered no special reasons to buy at all. Nearly one in five companies sent messages urging customers to purchase items for a special event or holiday like Mother's or Father's Day.
Enhance the art of the email: The single most-used format for commercial email messages reviewed by Silverpop was the postcard layout--long a staple of traditional direct mail marketing programs because of its lower cost. A one-block image, though, can be dangerous to use in an email environment that increasingly suffers from the effects of image blocking in newer email clients like Gmail and Outlook 2003.
Give customers a choice: The line between delivering messages with just the right frequency and spamming customers is razor thin and misunderstood by some retailers. While most companies sent one or two messages over a month's time, one national, upscale retailer crammed 21 emails into recipients' inboxes. A steady parade of shoes and purses flashed across Silverpop computer screens. The less fashionable members of the team screamed spam; the fashionistas checked their credit limits. The lesson for marketers is to know who you're sending to and give them options.
The full report of Phase II includes a breakdown of key messages used to entice consumers to buy plus an overview of layouts, with numerous examples of creative formats used by prominent retailers. To receive Phases I and II of Silverpop's "2005 Retail Email Marketing Study" and register to receive Phase III, covering opt-out procedures and scheduled to be released this fall, sign up at www.silverpop.com.
Silverpop is a leading provider of permission-based email marketing solutions, strategy and services, with offices throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom. Ranked as having the highest business value and richest feature set by JupiterResearch in 2004, Silverpop was also acknowledged by Forrester Research as a "strong performer" that "stands out with an interface that is quite easy to use while providing strong functionality." Silverpop helps marketers cultivate and maintain long-term strategic relationships with customers and partners by maximizing the potential of email as a relationship tool. Its flexible service model allows marketers to choose from full service or ASP and easily move between the two, making it an ideal solution for any stage of an email program. Silverpop provides email marketing to industry leading companies including Fossil, The Bombay Company, British Sky Broadcasting, Weather.com and more. Best practices and white papers are available at www.silverpop.com.