August 13, 2013

Marketing Research Chart: What marketers are doing … and what they should be doing

SUMMARY: In last week's Chart of the Week, which covered list building, we said, "Unlike social media, with email, prospects are forced to a decision point -- open or delete, click or delete, etc." However, there is a big "if" at the end of that statement ... if the email makes it to the inbox.

This week's Marketing Research Chart of the Week focuses on email deliverability improvement tactics.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

"Deliverability has been a huge challenge in the past year, especially with the lack of visibility into [for example] Gmail's standards."

That quote is from an email marketer who shared her experiences in the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, where we asked marketers …

Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve email deliverability rates?

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Click here to see a larger, printable version of this chart

If you love something, set it free

The top tactic marketers use to improve deliverability rates is not surprising — "provide an easy unsubscribe process," which 62% of marketers are currently doing. After all, the CAN-SPAM Act requires "a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails," to quote from Wikipedia.

What is surprising is 38% of marketers are not using this tactic. Yes, there is the law to consider. But in addition, email recipients are much more powerful than direct mail recipients. While frustrated prospects who receive physical junk mail can do little more than toss it in the recycle bin, pestered email recipients can hit that spam button.

If the spam button is easier than your unsubscribe option, which choice do you think they will make?

If it comes back, it's yours

A minority of marketers don't wait to see if recipients want to leave their email list, they actively kick them off, like the 39% of email marketers who remove inactive subscribers.

About half of them (17%) launch reactivation campaigns to try one last attempt to re-engage those prospects before removing them from the list.
This is a practice that has shown to be effective in case study after case study. Of course, it is a very challenging tactic for many marketers to execute. After all, in business we tend to like numbers that go up, and an email list with a downward trend because you are choosing to remove recipients can be hard to face.

If it doesn't, it never was

While 39% of respondents maintain an opt-in only subscriber list, the flip side is 61% of marketers send emails to people who were never on their list to begin with. One respondent shared his concern that "though we shouldn't be doing it any way, senior management is not above using unvetted lists to secure new clients."

That is my biggest takeaway from this chart. What email marketers should and shouldn't be doing isn’t necessarily reflected in what they are or aren't doing.

So what should email marketers be doing? I asked Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy and Security Officer, Oracle Eloqua, for his take on this data.

He said, "The focus should always be about obtaining correct permission from users and even working in an opt-in environment. What marketers need to be doing is quality over quantity. Quality [targeted messaging] over quantity [broadcast messaging]."

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014 — There is no entry fee, deadline is September 8.

Email Deliverability: Publisher moves beyond double opt-in to avoid 1,000 hard bounces per day

Email Deliverability: How a marketing vendor with 99 percent delivery rates treats single opt-in lists vs. double opt-in lists

The 4 Pillars of Email Marketing

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