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2007 Retail Email Marketing Study

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday September 25, 2007 )

With online retailers increasingly realizing the power of email marketing, a recent study has found generally many improvements in how the medium is being utilized – but some retailers are still failing to implement some simple strategies to maximize the benefits of email promotion related activities.

Key findings from the Silverpop “2007 Retail Email Marketing Study” include:

– 73% of marketers sent emails to new subscribers to confirm their registrations (double opt-in), compared to 43% in 2005.

– In 2005, 75% of companies offered registration for email offers and newsletters on their home pages. In 2007, that grew to 80%.

– 35% of U.K. retailers still have registration buried on their sites, compared to just 14% percent of U.S. retailers.

– In 2005, 75% of retailers offered incentives for signups, compared to 92% this year.

– Due to rendering and compatibility issues, 78% of companies now also offer a link in their email communications to view web based versions of their newsletters and promo blurbs.

– The most popular incentive offers used in email marketing are a percentage off discount; followed by free or discounted shipping.

– 73% of companies force a subscriber to complete a form in order to unsubscribe, rather than using a one-click unsubscribe process.

– Increasingly, at the opt-out stage, subscribers are offered various incentives or options to alter their subscription as a last ditch attempt to keep them on the list.

– There’s been a decrease in the number of instant opt-out functionality. In 2005 it was 80%; in 2007, it’s 70%.

– Most companies give subscribers only one email communication option such as a newsletter or special offer notifications and only a handful survey offered more than five choices. U.S. retailers overall are offering fewer selections than in the 2005 Silverpop study.

By the way, I can certainly vouch for incentives boosting subscription rates substantially; especially when used in conjuction with a hover-ad type subscription box.

As for unsubscribes, I’ll stick with one-click unsubscription for my own sites for the time being. I’m a believer that if someone wants off your list, let them get off it easily – although the idea of offering an incentive to stay I hadn’t really considered and it certainly has good potential.

There’s still a lot of debate about double opt-in (where a potential subscriber needs to confirm) versus single opt-in. Personally, I prefer double opt-in as:

a) You wind up with people on the list who *really* want to hear from you which translates to better open and response rates
b) Less bounces; cleaner list
c) The list is more attractive to potential advertisers and you’ll get better rates
d) It adds to the overall value of your online business.
e) Helps protect you against annoying accusations of spamming.

While double opt in does decrease subscriber numbers somewhat, offering an incentive certainly helps maximize the number of people who’ll take the extra step to confirm. Added tip: confirmation should be a one-click process – it’s a pretty standard feature of most email marketing software and services these days anyway.

There’s a stack of other interesting email marketing statistics and useful tidbits in the Silverpop “2007 Retail Email Marketing Study” – you can register for a free copy here.


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