Monthly Archives: November 2013

Study provides holiday email marketing insights

Study provides holiday email marketing insights

The holiday shopping season is vital for email promotions, with marketers filling the inboxes of their email contact lists with news about product releases, last-minute sales and a host of other offers they can take advantage of as they shop for their loved ones. As much stress as consumers find themselves under during this time, marketers are undoubtedly feeling the pressure, too, as they attempt the final, make-or-break push to achieve the return on investment their firms have been seeking.

However, there may be more flexibility when it comes to hitting end-of-year ROIs than many marketers believe. Email marketing solutions firm Custora recently released statistics that help put the holiday promotion rush into perspective.

Holiday customers not as valuable long-term
Don't value those who make purchases during November and December too highly: The Custora report found that holiday customer acquisitions have a lower customer lifetime value (CLV) than customers acquired during the rest of the year.

The drop occurs across marketing channels, the study found. Email had a relatively low 5 percent decrease in holiday CLV, while paid search dropped by 13 percent and display advertising by 12 percent.

Perhaps the decrease in CLV reflects the increase in the volume of marketing efforts over the holidays, with quantity being prioritized over quality. Noting that Forrester recently predicted 838 billion marketing emails would be sent in 2013, the marketing team at McKinsey emphasized in a recent post for Forbes that more personal emails are likely to be the most effective.

"Given this backdrop, it's no wonder why relevancy should be a priority for every marketer," the McKinsey marketers wrote.

Think mobile
On the other hand, failing to prioritize mobile sales may get marketers into trouble this holiday season. Custora found that on Black Friday in 2012, total mobile sales increased by 50 percent in a single day.

As such, it's imperative that marketers make sure their promotional emails and websites are mobile-ready, as customers will surely want to utilize these tools on their smartphones and tablets in order to make purchases.

Don't get stuck on Black Friday
That said, marketers can afford to take a wider-lens approach rather than focus exclusively on the day after Thanksgiving. In 2012, the four-day period between Dec. 1 and Dec. 4 brought in more revenue than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, Custora found, while the days between Dec. 10 and Dec. 13 were just shy of the two major shopping days' joint revenue.

Taking these insights into consideration, marketers can feel empowered to target their emails in a more sophisticated manner than they may have in previous years.

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Consumers reading more emails on tablets

Consumers reading more emails on tablets

By now, email marketers know they need to adapt to mobile to keep pace with the competition, as the contacts on their email marketing lists increasingly go to their smartphones not only to read email, but also to check social media, surf the Web and scope out new brands and products. 

Of course, smartphones aren't the only mobile devices on the market: The acclaim and attention that Apple's recent release of the iPad Air garnered demonstrates just how popular tablets have become in recent years. Since these bigger devices resemble small laptops arguably more than their smartphone cousins, many users are going to tablets to perform many of the activities that were previously reserved for desktop computers – and email is no exception.

iPads lead the tablet trend for email
There's no denying the impressive rate at which consumers are turning to their tablets when it comes time to read emails. Movable Ink's recent U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report found more than 15 percent of all email opens occurred on a tablet in the third quarter of 2013, a marked quarter-over-quarter increase from Q2, when tablets made up less than 13 percent of total email reading.

The device that has seen the greatest portion of the growth of tablet-based email reading is the iPad. Apple's popular devices accounted for a stunning 14.29 percent of all email opens, leaving just 0.9 percent to Android tablets, the Movable Ink study found. That dominance stands to reason: iPad use alone grew by 10 percent between the second and third quarters of 2013.

With these statistics in mind, marketers can better focus their efforts. One of the difficulties of crafting mobile-friendly email campaigns is creating layouts that will look good across operating systems. When designing with the tablet in mind, however, prioritizing iOS over Android and other platforms may be an effective strategy.

Emails read on tablets create more conversions
Furthermore, considering how your emails will look on tablets offers rewards that are too great to overlook, as return on investment is particularly high among tablet-based email reads. 

Email marketing solutions provider Yesmail Interactive recently performed a study that revealed 56 percent of all mobile Web-based sales initiated by a marketing email were carried out on an iPad. Compare that to the iPhone's 26 percent and Android's 18 percent of mobile email-driven purchases, and the need for greater focus on how emails look on tablets becomes even clearer. Furthermore, iPads accounted for 25 percent of all mobile click-throughs and email opens, the study found, suggesting that customers may be much more responsive on tablets.

As such, marketers must begin to consider how they are going to take advantage of the convenience and pleasure the devices offer consumers.

"Emails opened on mobile have a better chance of reaching consumers at the right place and right time during the busy holiday shopping season," Yesmail President Michael Fisher noted. "Marketers should recognize that 'mobile' doesn't always equal 'smartphone.'"

Using tablets to increase your exposure
In a post for Tab Times, Softweb Solutions Senior SEO Executive Jagadish Thaker highlighted how marketers can take advantage of tablet technology to generate customers.

"The increased use of tablet devices has greatly transformed the way businesses interact with their customers and with each other. It is necessary to know how consumers leverage their devices in order to deliver a better customer experience," he wrote.

Thaker recommended firms strengthen their mobile presence to make themselves more visible, engaging social media and creating apps. He also pointed out that it's essential for firms to make sure their websites look good on mobile.

Given the high click-through rate among users who read email on tablets, it's particularly important to make sure that the landing pages to which your emails link are mobile-ready.

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New study reveals value of video in email marketing

New study reveals value of video in email marketing

Today's digital culture is highly textual: Emails, text messages, Tweets and Facebook posts appear constantly on our computer screens and mobile devices. But the Web landscape is also extremely visual, whether through static images like those users post on Instagram, the short clips you can find on Vine or longer-form video as found on YouTube and Vimeo. Those last two platforms, in particular, have been used with high frequency and effectiveness by businesses looking to gain customers online. 

It stands to reason then that emails combining written and visual content in a more complete way can be extremely useful for grabbing the attention of your email marketing list and creating conversions.

Lessons from the monks of email marketing
Marketing email design firm Email Monks recently released a study that showed just how valuable video can be in promotional message campaigns.

According to the study, the return on investment (ROI) offered by emails that include video is 280 percent higher than the average ROI for email promotions. Furthermore, Web platforms and mobile email apps have a higher compatibility with sophisticated video than many marketers may realize. The majority – 52 percent – of email clients for Web and mobile operating systems support HTML5 video streaming.

Marketers, however, don't seem to be catching on to the possibilities of video. Only 25 percent of firms surveyed by Email Monks said that they had implemented email marketing video. Furthermore, while 25 percent said it was very likely that they'd employ the tool in the future and 55 percent said it was at least in the realm of possibility, a relatively substantial 20 percent said there was no chance they'd use video in their promotional messages.

Email: The last frontier for video?
The hesitancy to adopt video for email marketing purposes that Email Monks found among respondents is especially surprising because of how widespread the tool has become in promotional strategies executed through other online media.

The Web Video Marketing Council recently published a study, "Q4 2013 Video Marketing Survey Report," revealing that video is extremely popular as a marketing tool. According to the study, 93 percent of firms are doing at least some of their marketing communications through a video platform, and 84 percent feature video on their websites. 

Furthermore, marketing teams are devoting both careful consideration and cold, hard cash to the tool. The study showed that 70 percent of marketers have applied search engine optimization principles to their marketing videos, and another 70 percent plan to devote more money to video in the future.

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Marketers discover iOS 7 mobile email glitch

Marketers discover iOS 7 mobile email glitch

Mobile is now a top priority for email marketers, and firms want to control to the furthest extent possible how contacts on their email marketing list will interact with emails on a mobile screen.

In a post for iMedia Connection, mobile marketing firm TapSense's Vice President Gregory Kennedy suggested that the combination of email marketing and mobile devices is a proverbial match made in heaven, primarily because of just how powerful both technologies have been proven to be.

Pointing out that 44 percent of emails are read on smart devices and that the number of the world's email accounts is projected to hit 3.8 billion next year, Kennedy recommended that app developers take a lesson from marketers who've embraced mobile and bring the power of email marketing to their promotion strategies.

Trouble in paradise
However, it looks as though a glitch in Apple's latest mobile software update, iOS 7, has become a stumbling block for email marketers trying to optimize for the operating system.

Chad White, principal of marketing research at ExactTarget, recently told Internet Retailer that the new connection between the iPhone email app and iOS calendar is faulty.

According to the news source, White noticed that when he opened up his email app and checked his inbox, dates were now hyperlinked when they appeared in messages' subject lines. Users can tap the linked date and it will bring them to their iOS calendars, which will automatically create an event by pulling the information from the text of the email.

Of course, this could be a great tool for email marketers, allowing sales, promotions and the content of their messages to be seamlessly interwoven with their contacts' schedules.

But the iOS feature might not be the godsend marketers were hoping for. In fact, it seems that this new capability of the smartphone isn't all that smart.

White told Internet Retailer that iOS linked "Saturday 1" in an email with the subject line "Rain or Shine, Saturday 1 Day Sale Is On." Of course, the message was not promoting a sale on Saturday the first, but a one-day sale on Saturday. Furthermore, when White tapped the link, the calendar app created an event on November 1 – a Friday.

Meanwhile, another email White received, which contained the phrase "Oct. 27," did not create a link for what was obviously the date of the sale, the news source reported.

Rather than grow frustrated, perhaps firms can look at the glitch from a more positive angle: Mobile devices are still nowhere near as smart as marketers are.

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