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Weekly Retail Media Note #160: How Should Retailers Decide When And How Often To eMail Customers?


Doing digital old school is appealing to retailers who are more often relying on email marketing to grab the attention of customers. With email, though, there’s always the conundrum of how to find the right balance of engaging the customer without flooding their inbox.

A February 2017 survey from email marketing company Coherent Path, according to an article in eMarketerRetail by Alison McCarthy, found out how US retail marketers plan their email calendars, and what sorts of campaigns they include.

For one thing, they give a lot of weight to what worked last year—85% of respondents chose this as an influential factor. A slightly higher proportion (87%) slot in major holidays and events.

Most of the retail marketers surveyed realize the risk in overwhelming their customers with too many emails. About 43% of respondents said they send one to two emails per week, while 46% said they send three to four. But because email is such a powerful tool, marketers are being pressured by their companies to do more campaigns. While only 11% of US retail marketers said they send five or more emails weekly, the majority said they feel pushed to send a higher number to up their returns and increase awareness.

In many ways, discounts and deals seem to drive email’s success. One reason email is so successful is because customers know that marketing emails often include promotions. Three in four marketers in Coherent Path’s survey cited the use of promotions to drive revenues as a source of influence when planning their email calendars.

Almost a third of respondents said between 50% and 75% of the emails they send include promotions. And one in 4 retail marketers said that more than 75% of their emails include some type of discount.

While many retail marketers are succeeding with their email marketing tactics, there’s still room for improvement, according to Coherent Path’s study.

Personalization has received a great deal of attention in the industry. However, only half of respondents said they personalize email messaging based on a customer’s prior email activity. Additionally, only one in four retail marketers reported repurposing their email content, a tactic that, if done successfully, can help save time and resources.

While finding the perfect recipe for a successful email marketing campaign can be tricky, there’s good reason for retailers to invest in email marketing: Email has been proven to provide marketers with some of the highest returns of any digital marketing channel.

To understand where eMail is being opened, per Litmus ‘Email Analytics’ (March 2016), desktop represents 19% of all email opens, webmail 26% and mobile 55%.

A June 2016 survey of US marketers from the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) and Demand Metric also found that email’s median ROI, at 122%, was overwhelmingly higher than social media (28%), direct mail (27%), paid search (25%) and online display (18%).

By 2018 80% of email users are expected to access their email accounts via a mobile device, according to The Radicati Group “Email Statistics Report, 2014-2018.

A quarter of Americans report checking email regularly right up until they go to bed, with 3% actually gets up in the middle of the night to check messages, per Adobe digital Insights “ADI Email Survey 2016”.

Another survey of US marketers in May 2016 from the New York American Marketing Association (NYAMA) and BrandSpark mirrors that finding: Email was rated as the marketing channel with the greatest ROI.

Nearly 3 in 4 (73%) of Smartphone-first consumers check their email more than once a day, 19% higher than those who primarily check on another device, per Fluent ”The Inbox report 2016, Consumer perceptions of email” (2016).

27% of users that primarily check email on their smartphone, do so as the emails arrive, per ”The Inbox report 2016, Consumer perceptions of email” (2016).

After seeing a marketing email, 38% of consumers have purchased on a smartphone. While 47% say they have purchased from websites, 45% have made an in-store purchase, per Fluent ”The Inbox report 2016, Consumer perceptions of email” (2016).

Shoppers have the highest mobile conversion rates via mobile during the evening, per Live Intent “The People Behind the Screens: A Marketer’s Guide to Mobile Audiences” (2015).

Demographically, Millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomers all convert best in the morning hour as far as mobile email is concerned, per Live Intent “The People Behind the Screens: A Marketer’s Guide to Mobile Audiences” (2015).

But the problem most retailers face is this: 37% of retail brands has a mobile-friendly website, but does not have mobile-friendly promotional emails, per Litmus “Inconsistencies in the Mobile Subscriber Experience” (2015). This is a particular problem within the home furnishings industry. Why? 71,6% of consumers will delete emails if they don’t look good on mobile, while an average of 10% will read it anyway, per Adestra “Consumer Adoption & Usage Study” (2016). 45% of consumers have unsubscribed from promotional emails because the emails or website didn’t work well on their smartphone, per Litmus and Fluent “2016 Mobile- Friendly Email & Landing Page Trends” (2016). And, 34% of consumers have marked promotional emails as spam because they didn’t work well on their smartphone, per Litmus and Fluent “2016 Mobile-Friendly Email & Landing Page Trends” (2016). Fact: If an email does not display correctly, 71,2% will delete it immediately, per BlueHornet “Consumer Views of Email Marketing” (2014).

Fact: Only 41% of brands send mobile friendly emails, per ExactTarget “Mobile Friendly disconnects” (2014).

The newest path to success in direct eMail marketing is CNA|SOPHIS’ Retail Positive™ which has delivered terrific results in both email opens and click-thru email engagement. In a year-long 24 send campaign, it created an open rate average of 49.47% with a click-thru rate average of 48.33%, both well above industry averages. In fact the click-thru rate has exceeded 60.7% in some cases.

If you want increased traffic, increased sales and an improved ROI, e-Mail works.

How Should Retailers Decide When And How Often To eMail Customers?
By Lance Hanish

Lance Hanish is Co-Founding Partner in CNA|Sophis Integrated Marketing Solutions one of the leading marketing firms serving the home furnishings industry. An award winning writer, director, producer and advertising/ marketing consultant, he can be reached at:

(480) 619-8999
eMail: Lance@CNASophis.com
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