Digital marketing has become one of the most important tools in Canadian business promotion. Email was one of the original online marketing tools and it has continued to play a powerful part in any digital strategy. eMail marketing has become more challenging in recent years, however, with marketers scrambling to keep up with everything from mobile compatibility to deliverability.
Marketing benchmarks can be used to guide our efforts and compare our results. To that end, Inbox Marketer (a Canadian eMail marketing company), recently released their 2016 report summarizing the latest trends and benchmarks for North American eMail marketing.
eMail Open Rates
Getting the eMail into a subscriber’s inbox is a feat in itself. The next hurdle marketers face is getting the recipient to open the eMail. The good news is that open rates have increased over the past five years, which may be due in part to people being more selective in what they subscribe to. We must work hard to earn our place in the consumer inbox with interesting, useful and engaging content.
It’s important to note that the tracking of open rates can be considerably flawed. For example, many track open rates through images, but the popular Microsoft Outlook eMail software is set to not load images automatically by default. It may appear that the person hasn’t opened the eMail when, in fact, they have. Keep this in mind when you decide to clean up your eMail subscriber list by removing “inactive” subscribers. You can still clean up bounced (undeliverable) addresses, although the bounce rate has fallen to a mere 0.8%.
Click-through Rate (CTR)
eMail click-through rates increased to 5% last year (up from 4.3% in 2014), although they’re still not as high as they were in 2013 (6%). The unique click-through rate for 2015 was 3.7%, up from 3.1% in 2014. The increases could be due to the larger sizes of smartphone screens, mobile optimization, improved mailing list maintenance, and personalization. The unique click-through rate as a percentage of how many emails were opened could be a more telling statistic, averaging about 14% in 2015.
Deliverability continues to be a concern as legitimate businesses try to avoid security measures put in place to protect consumers. The Inbox Placement Rate (IPR) is the number of eMails that go directly into the recipients’ inbox, rather than spam folders, etc. In Canada, one in five emails were not delivered directly into the inbox in 2015, according to ReturnPath data, an increase of 4% over 2014.
5 Major Trends in eMail Marketing
This report identified five major trends in eMail marketing.
1. Mobile enables eMail addiction through 24/7 access. Smartphone penetration is growing steadily in Canada, with eMarketer predicting 22.1 million Canadian adults (61.2%) will have one in 2016.
2. Contextual Marketing facilitates targeted, personalized communications, which has proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase customer engagement.
“A retailer can use these moments, when a subscriber first opens a message, to recommend the closest store locations, potentially driving in-store sales,” the Inbox Marketer report suggests. “Is it raining, sunny, or snowing at your customer’s location? Dynamically generated weather-specific inventory or messaging can further enhance your subscriber’s brand experience. Interactions like this will give brands a competitive edge and an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.”
3. Testing has increased as marketers realize the potential of personalized strategies. A/B testing is most common at this point, but with strategic engagement success has come an increased interest in deeper science. Eye-tracking and other ways to further dissect specific aspects of the reader experience will continue to grow in 2016.
4. Insights, Analytics and Data are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we’re all hungry for more information to better target and engage prospects and customers. On the other hand, the volume of information can be overwhelming to a point of distraction. This report suggests we separate information that is simply interesting from the key data that is critical to achieving our goals.
5. Automation is what makes personalization and multi-channel marketing feasible. For example, you can utilize eMail automation to respond to consumer behaviour like purchasing, online product views, newsletter sign-ups and even offline store visits.
Overcome the Big 5 Challenges Facing Email Marketers
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Email Marketing Rules: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Practices that Power Email Marketing Success, by Chad White.
Email Persuasion: Captivate and Engage Your Audience, Build Authority and Generate More Sales with Email Marketing, by Ian Brodie.
How has your eMail marketing strategy evolved in the past couple of years? Please share your experience in the comments below.
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