ClickZ – Are Email Programs Getting Better?
Ryan Phelan, VP of strategic services at BlueHornet, and I continue our discussion about consumer perception on email frequency, value, relevance, and whether email programs are getting better.
Simms Jenkins: In 2006, 77 percent of subscribers said they received too many emails and promotions. However, in 2010, that percentage shrunk to 49 percent. Why? What changed on the marketing front/and or subscriber front?
Ryan Phelan: I think this is because email has changed and because subscribers have changed. Back in 2006, many of the emails brands were sending out were basically copies of their website pages or in many cases, newsletters.
Just a couple years later, when the economy worsened in the U.S., marketers began relying on email more for sending discounts and offers. As we’ve already discussed, this is a behavior that subscribers have become accustomed to and it’s something that they feel is valuable. Additionally, subscribers are becoming better educated about managing their email volume and expecting ISPs to help with some of that, as well.
Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen the ISPs moving toward relevance-based deliverability. Google, for example, may consider an email spam if there is not engagement by the user. This challenges marketers to come in line with the new “rules of engagement” and to recognize that a relationship-based program drives higher results. As they see higher results with triggered messaging, they are starting to move toward a regular cadence of segmented emails. Sure, this is moving slowly, but consumer expectations for it are growing.
SJ: Relevance is a term a lot of marketers disdain mainly because so-called email experts are usually harping on it and because it can be seen as vague – yet it was the number one reason for people to unsubscribe. What do you make of that?
RP: Simms, I believe that this is one interesting outcome of years of consumer experience with search engines and the web. Consumers have become familiar with – and have gained value from – delivery of content that reflects their individual needs and interests. They’ve learned to expect that from their search results, from the products they see on the web, and from what’s in their inbox.
It makes perfect sense for consumers to call out marketers for lack of email relevance, particularly today when they are more empowered because of access to social media. What’s more remarkable is that we are surprised when consumers call us out for it!
Want to check out the who’s who and what’s what of email marketing?
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