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Which brands are using email marketing effectively, and what are brands still failing on?

2 December, 2015


With so much focus on website and social media engagement, it’s easy to forget about email marketing. But email marketing remains the most powerful marketing channel for engagement – IF done correctly.

Not convinced? Here are some statistics you may find surprising:

  • 57% of email subscribers spend 10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week. (ChoozOn)
  • Knowledge workers on average spend 13 of their working hours each week in their email inbox. (McKinsey & Company)
  • 92% of online adults use email, with 61% using it on an average day. Those who were most likely to use email on a daily basis were those with a college degree or an income of <$75,000. (Pew Research)
  • One survey found that 90% of business people use email as much, or more than they did last year. (Osterman Research)

As a dotmailer client, I was sent the company’s annual marketing benchmarking report a while ago. We’ve been rather busy at so I’ve only just had time to sit down, read and digest the report findings. But in the lead-up to Christmas, there are so many opportunities to maximise the potential of email campaigns, I thought now would be a great time to share some of the report insights with you.

For its 7th annual ‘Hitting the Mark’ study, dotmailer placed orders with and monitored campaigns from almost 60 of the top US and UK retail brands over the quarter from April to June 2015. This created a comprehensive view comprising over 1,400 emails.

A range of 24 attributes were used to score retailers representing impact, offer, appearance/rendering, integration with mobile and social and legal compliance. The results were analysed, and here is a summary of their findings.

Email-Marketing_onlinemarketinghq co uk

Missed opportunities for retailers using email marketing

There were a number of areas where retailers were found to be falling short or missing opportunities, including:

  • Low use of personalised addressing
  • Lack of personalisation and recognition of the relationship the retailer had with the customer (ie the nature of the original order)
  • A “pedestrian” approach to convincing customers to engage with brands on social
  • Lack of marketing around special occasions, such as customer birthday

Online is now a fully integrated part of the multichannel buying process

The report found that online is now an integral part of sales, as customers browse, research, compare, buy and collect using various channels of the same purchase. If you’re simply using emails to push customers to conversion sites, then your approach is dated. Instead, you should be supporting ever more subtle ways to increase engagement.

Customers are becoming less loyal

71% of UK shoppers say that they’re likely to switch retailers after a bad experience and 40% say that their loyalty to a brand is directly affected by the convenience of the brand’s multichannel offering, so tolerance of poor performance is decreasing.

“Delivery, advice and service are making a comeback but not instead of a focus on price. As a consequence, the marketer’s role becomes ever more integrated with those of merchandising, customer service and revenue management. Even traditional RFM based CRM needs to be tempered with the realisation that what made someone loyal yesterday can be easily cast aside tomorrow. In this environment an over reliance on price-based offers may well be dangerous – from a comms perspective, it can’t be about just continually pushing deals.”

Email subscribe

Email is still the preferred channel for shoppers

Email is overwhelmingly the preferred channel for consumers to interact with. Perhaps surprisingly, 6% of UK shoppers would be in favour of renewing marketing consent to all of the brands (retail and other) to which they have currently given it, according to Fast Maps consent research 2015.

Of course, email comes with issues. Just 35% of US shoppers consider communications to be “usually relevant.” Relevance is a hot topic, and debate rages about how far a brand can go to ensure all its email communications are relevant to all customers.

“Recent public statements by brand giants including Walmart and Macy’s suggest that they’re well aware of the line to be crossed between relevance and intrusiveness (The Gap puts it neatly – their ambition is to be ‘cool not creepy’).” Although the report highlights that consumers of course are increasingly knowledgeable about the give and take necessary to achieve such relevance.

Which brands did the best email marketing campaigns?

Here is dotmailer’s list of the top ten brands for email marketing:

  1. Ikea
  2. EasyJet
  3. Asda
  4. House of Fraser
  5. O2
  6. AVG
  7. Sainsbury
  8. Victoria’s Secret
  9. Not on the High Street
  10. Best Buy

Online is growing. According to the ‘Navigating the new digital age’ report by Deloitte, web sales in the US grew on average by almost 30% in the last quarter of 2014 versus the same period in 2013. The UK is following a similar trend.

If you’re interested in finding out more about email marketing and the user experience (UX), check out Helen’s review of a recent WordPress Leeds event, and Becs Kemm’s talk on ‘Experience and email marketing’.
Does your organisation use email marketing?

What advice can you give other businesses to improve their email engagement and conversions?

Do share your thoughts and ideas below!

Learn more about email marketing and other digital and multichannel marketing techniques by subscribing to this blog.

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  • Jonny says:

    I’m surprised to not see Musclefood in the top ten. A couple of the team here regularly order meat from the website through their highly personalised emails and offers.

    • Jonny Ross says:

      Hi Jonny,

      I will have to take a look and check them out, thanks for the tip!!

      Was great having you give input with us on blab the other day, really appreciate and liked your thoughts,


  • Ross Barnard says:

    Hi Jonny,

    Great article and thanks for the mention. I’m glad you found our Hitting the Mark benchmarking report useful. I just wanted to let others know where this report is if they’re also interested in reading it:


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