Category Archives: Email List Trends

As open rates fall, two email marketing firms announce innovative offerings

As open rates fall, two email marketing firms announce innovative offerings

Crafting a successful email marketing campaign can feel like an uphill battle, and a recent study shows that the struggle isn't getting any easier.

According to MarketingProfs, Epsilon's newly released quarterly email trends showed an average email open rate of 28.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, an 8.3 percent decrease from Q1. The average click-through rate – that is, the percentage of customers who click on the links provided in promotional emails – stood at 4.3 percent, the lowest on record in the past two years.

However, the report offered a few pieces of positive news that counterbalance these figures. Despite the quarter-over-quarter decline in the open rate, Q2 of 2013 saw 11.5 percent more email opens than the same quarter in 2012. Furthermore, the rate of emails returned as undelivered – called the average non-bounce rate – remained essentially consistent with previous quarters at 96.1 percent.

Rather than despair at the mixed bag of industry news provided in the Epsilon report, it might be best for marketers to remember that reaching their email marketing lists has never been easy – and this is precisely why companies have continued to offer software and other services to help them ensure customers are reading and acting upon their promotional messages.

This week, two such firms announced they were bolstering their product lines, helping email marketers achieve their goals and taking some of the sting out of the recent statistics.

Embarke adds depth to email analytics
​According to PandoDaily, San Diego, Calif.-based startup Embarke recently secured $1.25 million in funding from an investment team led by Social Leverage. The company plans to use the money to expand its offerings – which include sophisticated email list segmentation executed according to analytics-based behavior profiles – to more clients, with the goal of improving open and click-through rates.

The increased cash flow comes at an critical time of growth for the young company: Embarke's commercial product only went on the market two months ago and already it has created more than 5 million behavior profiles for its clients' email contacts, the news source noted.

Furthermore, the startup recently announced its partnership with email provider SendGrid, PandoDaily reported. Embarke has been able to optimize the delivery of 500,000 emails each day by working with only the top 2 percent of SendGrid's clients. The email analytics firm claims the partnership has produced improvements of between 5 and 20 percent in both click-through and open rates.

In a recent post on its official blog, Embarke asked marketers to reevaluate the effectiveness of their analytics.

"It's one thing to be able to track opens and clicks, but are those opens and clicks converting? Are they signing up? Are they turning into dollars, or actual customers?" the company asked.

The goal of Embarke, one might say, is to enable clients to answer "Yes" to those questions.

StreamSend brings email content to the social sphere
Sacramento, Calif.-based firm StreamSend provides solutions for email marketers, including StreamSend Share 2.0, a platform of social marketing tools. The company recently announced the release of Smart RSS, an automation tool that allows companies that frequently update their rich site summary (RSS) feeds to reach and impact more potential customers, the firm said.

"Automatic email automation and market automation drive a much greater ability to connect with customers through these syndicated live web feeds, sharing more effectively and delivering the attention that great content really deserves," commented StreamSend President Dan Forootan. 

According to StreamSend, Smart RSS allows marketers to use widgets that enable them to set up automatic publishing schedules. The solution also places sharing features on emailed RSS, so that customers on your email contact list can create engagement and potential new business for you by bringing your content to the attention of their social networks.

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New study affirms the continued importance of email marketing

New study affirms continued importance of email marketing

The list of reasons why marketers shouldn't listen too closely to detractors who prophesy the death of email as a platform for promotional messages grew recently, as Marketo released results of a survey that showed email marketing lists are as relevant a tool as ever.

Granted, the sheer number of claims about email's decline makes this idea hard to ignore. The Marketo study showed that a Google search of the phrase "email is dead" yielded 1,500,000 results, compared to 280,000 for "blogging is dead" and 180,000 for "social media is dead." 

However, responses from consumers don't support the hypothesis that email is dead, as 94 percent of Americans check their messages regularly, the study revealed, and more than half log into their email accounts upon waking up in the morning. 

Furthermore, 64 percent of companies surveyed said they planned to increase spending on email marketing campaigns in 2013. They have good reason to do so: the study also showed that every dollar spent on email promotions in 2011 yielded a $40.56 return.

While email remains strong, the rules of marketing on the platform are changing. More than ever, customers need to feel that an email is relevant. In light of the Marketo study, Business 2 Community suggested that companies should lean toward a conversational tone rather than come off as out-and-out promotional, and they might consider dividing their marketing lists based on demographics and other factors in order to tailor messages to specific customer groups.

Honesty and CAN Spam compliance
Trustworthiness was one of the key qualities of effective marketing emails cited by the Marketo study. Business 2 Community expressed a similar viewpoint, pointing out that emails should be transparent and comply with CAN Spam.

"What is CAN Spam?" you might ask, if you're not already well acquainted with the term.

Far from being something you could buy in a supermarket, the CAN Spam Act is a law that outlines penalties for businesses who impede a consumer's right to unsubscribe from their emails, HubSpot noted. The source went on to point out that under the act, not only are emails not allowed to overcomplicate the process for users who want to unsubscribe, they also cannot include subject lines that mislead the reader about the message's contents and must include a valid physical address for the company.

Compliance with these guidelines can help ensure that when customers in your email database read your messages, they trust your brand as a source of honest content and want to follow up on what they read.

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B2B email marketing messages should continue to use custom content and segmentation.

B2B email marketing messages aren’t the same as B2C

Most individuals perceive email marketing lists to be the domain of business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. However, business-to-business (B2B) online communications are being increasingly leveraged by firms that offer other organizations professional services. And while some of the same marketing tips and tricks apply for these business emails, there are a few key differences in B2B and B2C best practices.

For example, a recent article in Business 2 Community pointed out the need to avoid "NoReply" emails. This term is common among B2C companies and marketers, and communicates to recipients upfront that the email they're receiving is purely informational or promotional, i.e. there's no need to start a dialogue. However, as the news source notes, this is precisely the opposite of what B2B firms should be striving to do.

"Allow the recipient to reply directly to the email to open a rapport with you," wrote Business 2 Community. "This can be accomplished by redirects on your server or by bootstrapping the mailer to an active account directly (the former usually being a better idea)."

Additionally, the news source added that B2B email marketing messages should contain simple and quick links that the recipient can click on to learn more about your company, its products and how to get in contact.

Some best practices are consistent across B2B and B2C, though. ClickZ pointed out that even in B2B email marketing messages, companies will want to use segmentation and personalization to connect with clients on a deeper level. By customizing the content potential and existing clients receive, B2B firms can potentially garner more customers, boost revenues and build stronger relationships that can last over the long term.

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Email lists can boost effectiveness of communications.

Email marketing lists attract engaged consumers

Marketing channels have a tendency to rise and fall quickly with the whim of the public. One medium, though, continues to prove itself to be a mainstay – email. However, a new study suggests there's room for improvement in the field and the tactics currently being leveraged. 

According to research from Kentico, high-quality email marketing lists are able to capture and retain respondents. In fact, 37 percent of respondents subscribe to 1-5 email lists, with 31 percent receiving messages from 6-10 lists and 14 percent fielding communications from 11-15 lists. Of those 31 percent on 6-10 email lists, 48 percent read 75 percent of the messages they receive from their lists. Furthermore, email lists are able to hold the attention of consumers longer than unsolicited messages, with 57 percent remaining on one for 1-3 years and 22 percent staying for 4-6 years.

There are a number of mistakes, however, that marketers should keep an eye on, as they could be the difference between messages being read and being marked as spam.

  • Timing is everything: The study reported that 38 percent of respondents will mark a message as spam if they are emailed too often.
  • Content is king: Presumably, you're emailing shoppers who would be interested in your products and services. This doesn't mean you can produce boring and unengaging contact. Do this, and risk being tossed.
  • Maintain professionalism: Make sure business emails don't contain simple errors and typos. Proofread to make sure you have the basics covered.

And don't forget to go mobile. The number of consumers – regardless of demographics – checking their email is growing, reaching nearly half of all users, a survey from Yesmail found. If you fail to optimize desktop messages, you could be doing so at your own risk, EcommerceBytes explained.

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Use a trade show to test out automated emails and expand targeted lists.

Automate email contact lists for stronger leads

The power of a strong email distribution list in producing quality leads, signups and, eventually, even sales cannot be played up enough. Imagine it as similar to being a realtor and approaching a roomful of individuals actively looking to buy a house versus throwing business cards at everyone on the street. The first scenario is much more likely to be successful.

Creating the content that appeals to members of a targeted email list can be a time-consuming and effort intense project, however. As a result, many marketers are investigating how automation can help them ensure their business communications make the biggest impact possible.

Automation allows marketers to choose the correct messages      
One task automation can make easier is determining which messages are most effective with a particular audience, Business 2 Community explained. Marketers can send a series of targeted messages, and using analytics can determine which ones were the most effective by looking at click and open rates. Additionally, this can help them clear out any bounced emails and see which messages spurred the least amount of traffic to a website.

Furthermore, by seeing which users clicked, companies have a much stronger set of leads with which to continue on to the next step – sales calls, according to the source.

This is demonstrated in an article from Marketing Magazine that recounts how automation can be used by sales teams and marketers to prepare for trade shows. According to the source, many professionals fail to even alert clients and prospects to their attendance at such events.

However, an automated email blast can do this for marketers, as well as let them know who's been clicking and, thus, whom they may expect to see, according to the magazine..

"Send out an email blast to a list of prospects who live near the site of the trade show so that they know that your company will be in the area," the news source explained. "Position the email as a friendly reminder that you're stopping by, and include a note that you'd love to see them at the conference."

Sales teams and marketers can't leave it here, though. Trade shows are key places to add to targeted email lists or learn tactics to better win over individuals through first-time emails.