New Data: Insights into the Evolution of Email Marketing

The Review June 2016
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by Sallie Burnett

Pulse on Email Marketing Landscape: Benchmarks 2015 Assessments, 2016 Predictions

Campaigner® announced the results of its marketing trends survey, detailing key industry insights and identifying specific areas of focus for 2016. Findings signal a shifting and dynamic ecosystem for marketers, as their tools, strategies and responsibilities continue to evolve with technology. Advances in social media and data analysis, as well as a heightened emphasis on the customer experience, will likely be the leading influences shaping the email marketing industry in the coming year.

From Social Basics to Social Buy Buttons

Marketers have been catching on to the benefits of social integration for a few years now, but new data indicates a shift in the use of social tools, specifically centered on direct buy buttons. In fact, 36 percent of marketers report seeing an increase in sales from direct buy button integration.

Looking to the year ahead, the results indicate an even higher emphasis on this tool in 2016, with close to 60 percent more marketers projected to utilize buy buttons this year. In 2015, only 22 percent of marketers implemented buy buttons, yet the data suggests closer to 35 percent plan on using them in 2016.

Furthermore, it seems this investment in buy buttons and other social integrations is paying off. More than two-thirds of marketers reported seeing higher referral traffic from social media in 2015, with almost half of them attributing it to a higher social spend.

Analytics Evolution: Big Support for Little Data

Additionally, the survey data reveals that marketers are turning away from the recent hype of big data, and, instead, seeking out “little data.” According to the survey, two-thirds of marketers believe smaller, segmented data provides better insight for marketing strategy and execution than big data.

Specifically, marketers are looking for segmented data on their target audiences (34 percent), industry verticals (19 percent) and existing customers (13 percent).

“This idea around ‘little data’ will be crucial to marketing success in 2016,” said EJ McGowan, general manager, Campaigner. “Every marketing strategy should not only be based on data, but based on analysis of the right data, directly relevant to your audience. The industry is moving from a macro-data outlook to a more segmented and targeted approach to metrics, and I believe this will provide significant benefits across the board.”

Supplementary to little data, predictive analytics will become a bigger emphasis for marketers in 2016. The survey reveals an almost 50 percent increase in the use of predictive analytics from 2015 to 2016: 20 percent of marketers reported using it in 2015, while 30 percent say they plan to implement it this year.

Marketers hope to leverage these strategies to gain deeper insights into customers and establish more effective relationships in order to accomplish what they rank as their top two goals for 2016, attracting new customers (74 percent) and retaining current customers (40 percent)

Professional Progression Among Email Marketers

Further supporting the increased emphasis on customer relationships is the evolving role of marketers. Job descriptions of email marketers in 2016 may be vastly different from those of years past, thanks to new emerging technologies and goals.

The data shows that 70 percent of marketers see their role evolving this year by focusing on optimizing their website for individualized, personalized user experiences. Forty-six percent see an increase of ownership of the customer experience, and almost a third (31 percent) foresee their role evolving into more of a marketing technologist.

“Just as marketing strategies and technologies are evolving, so are marketers’ roles and responsibilities,” McGowan said. “Adapting to new innovations is key to maintaining, and increasing, business success. Seeing that marketers are preparing for a role shift in 2016 is not surprising, but, rather, promising for the future of the industry.”

Additional Insights

  • Email marketers think earning new subscribers will be their biggest challenge in 2016, though increasing open rates proved most challenging in 2015.
  • Newsletters net the highest use among email marketers in their content marketing strategies.
  • Email takes the top spot among priority marketing methods for 2016.

Sallie Burnett is the president of Customer Insight Group, Inc., a strategic marketing company that builds profitable customer relationships between our clients’ brands and their customers. Customer Insight Group is your source for strategic, measurable retention, customer loyalty, rewards programs, and social media campaigns. Sallie is an out of the box thinker — she searches out opportunities to innovate and improve the customer’s experience. If you need a speaker, strategic consultant or more information, she can be reached directly at 1-303-422-9758 or you can email her at sallie@customerinsightgroup.com.

Study Reveals Email Marketing Best Practices for 2016

by Mary Shaw

SendGrid, the leading delivery platform for customer communication, revealed the results of a study analyzing consumer behavior during Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2015. The data was collected between November 1 and December 7, 2015 spanning over three billion emails sent.

The findings include:

  • Offering a discount in the subject line is popular, but is not correlated with stronger engagement: Of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing emails sent, 38 percent included a discount in the subject line. The most common discounts were 20 and 50 percent, while other discount percentages were much lower. The study found that emails that did not have a discount in the subject line had higher engagement rates.
  • Recipients click on the calls-to-action within their emails more quickly on their mobile devices: Mobile clicks skew towards shorter delays relative to desktop clicks; the median (50th percentile) click delay 18 percent shorter for mobile vs desktop (3.7 vs 4.5 hours).
  • On weekends, the median click delay approximately doubles: This indicates that the links that are being clicked on weekends tend to belong to older emails. Recipients are likely looking through their inbox at emails that they may have ignored during the workweek.
  • Unsubscribes are correlated with engagements: The study showed that higher engagement during Black
  • Friday and Cyber Monday also led to an increase in unsubscribe rates.
  • According to a report by GDMA and Winterberry Group, 74 percent of marketers remain confident in the value of data-driven marketing and advertising and its potential for future growth. SendGrid delivers over 22 billion emails per month and recognizes the value of data-driven email marketing for its expanding base of customers which includes CBS Interactive, Taco Bell, Spotify and Airbnb.
  • “Email is a mission-critical channel for marketers to drive engagement and is one of the most cost-effective way for companies to interact with their customers if done correctly,” said Victor Amin, data scientist, SendGrid. “The aim of this study was to provide marketers with key findings and best practices to improve the success of their email engagement campaigns in 2016.”

The key recommendations for marketers in 2016 include:

  • Test subject lines of all email marketing campaigns: Discount offers don’t always result in higher engagement. In fact, discounts may have a negative effect on engagement rates. A/B testing is a way to measure the success of your holiday email marketing campaign. Every business and email list is different, so we suggest that you test what works and what doesn’t with your recipients. By A/B testing, you can determine which tactic works best.
  • Purge the un-interested: Unsubscribes aren’t always a bad thing. If a recipient has signed up for your marketing list but changed their mind, it’s important that they have a clear and easy method to unsubscribe. If you don’t feel comfortable with making the unsubscribe button more prominent, offer recipients a chance to “down-subscribe” or opt-out of certain emails in a preference center. This removes recipients from the extra emails rather than unsubscribing all together.
  • Think beyond the holidays: The holiday season marks a huge sales opportunity for businesses, but also gives marketers a chance to build their lists which can benefit them for the rest of the year. Capitalize on the opportunity by creating multiple options for customers to sign up for your mailing list on your website or mobile app. Sign up messages should be short; each time someone new signs up for marketing email, send a stellar welcome email, which is personalized and makes a good first impression.
  • Be wary of email fatigue: Oftentimes email fatigue results in more than just unengaged recipients. Sending multiple emails per day can lead to fatigued and annoyed recipients resulting in users blocking, unsubscribing and sending messages to spam. As you think past the holidays, remember to keep your recipient list as clean as possible. Well-maintained lists consistently have higher engagement rates than older, neglected lists. Make sure you’re removing addresses that haven’t been engaged in a long time and segment your list by engagement. Building a negative reputation with ISPs can have a major impact on revenue, especially around the holidays.
  • Focus on email compatibility for desktops and mobile devices: Marketers need to meet the demand for a compelling consumer experience across multiple platforms when it comes to email marketing campaigns. Most email templates are designed for a standard desktop which is too wide for most phones – and could result in preventing horizontal scrolling. Include a plain text version in HTML email and make use of responsive design templates.

Mary Shaw is Director of Marketing and Community Engagement at Customer Insight Group, a strategic marketing company that uses customer insight to help its clients build successful and profitable long-term customer relationships. Mary knows what it takes to make social media, content and digital marketing campaigns successful. She uses this knowledge to innovate and execute campaigns that reach KPI and ROI objectives. She can be reached directly at.303.304.1044 or you can email her at mary.shaw@customerinsightgroup.com.

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