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Consumer Email Tracker: Deep-Dive Insights from the Email Council

This article is written by Guy Hanson who is Deputy Chair of the Email Council and Chair of the Research Hub.

The Consumer Email Tracker is highly valuable when it comes to helping marketers walk a mile in their subscribers’ shoes, providing an effective mirror for changing subscriber behaviours, especially when broader drivers are at play. The recently launched 2021 edition (sponsored by Validity) is no exception: the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the continuing GDPR “Halo Effect” are clearly visible, as the following key take-outs show.

  • Recognition: While effective subject lines are important, sender recognition is now even more crucial when inspiring recipients to open their emails (68% of respondents vs 59%).
  • Relevance: For the first time, “relevant to me” (55% of respondents) surpasses “contain offers” (53%) in response to what consumers value most from marketing emails.
  • Preferred Action: While click-throughs are important (25% of respondents) other equally popular actions include: visiting the website or mobile app, going to a physical store; checking out their social media account; or making a phone call.
  • GDPR “Halo Effect”: GDPR wrote many established best practices into law, and marketers continue to benefit from improved engagement: only 28% of respondents often now wonder how senders got their email address (down from 41% in 2017); emails deemed “useful” have increased by 12%, and unsubscribes from perceived lack of relevance have fallen 17%.
  • Net Promoters: For the top brands consumers believe “do email really well” the good news is their subscribers are also net promoters (+15% NPS score), who are highly likely to recommend these senders to friends and colleagues.

In our April Email Council meeting, we reviewed these findings and considered what email marketers can learn from them, and how they can adapt their programs to offer even better subscriber experiences. Here’s what they said:

  • Building Trust & Loyalty: The DMA’s “How to Win Trust and Loyalty” report identified email as consumers’ preferred channel for receiving marketing messages, generating high scores for trust and relevance. This is clearly reflected in the Consumer Email Tracker, and Saravanan Subburam from IPE noted that getting people to buy into your brand – by building trust and loyalty - is vital. The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified this, and there was a great quote in a recent Raconteur article: “People remember how you treat them when the chips are down. Now is the time to do good and earn trust for the long term.” Email has understood this by shifting towards more informational content, and a more empathetic tone of voice, and 1973’s Chris Barnett noted the striking shift away from offers and discounts towards greater relevance the report identifies.
  • Volume is Subjective: Consumers don’t like being over-mailed and cited “too many emails” as the single biggest reason for unsubscribing. However, as Steve Henderson from Emarsys pointed out, Amazon is ranked top for brands perceived as doing email really well yet is a known high-volume sender. Pure360’s Komal Helyer wondered if marketers are actually scared to send more – best practice advice is often to send only to engaged subscribers, but perhaps senders should be more focused on how to create more engaged subscribers. FanFinders’ Raphael March echoed this, acknowledging he is a high-volume sender and has developed AI-driven solutions to automatically manage different frequency segments (daily/weekly/etc.) that reflect different levels of subscriber engagement.
  • Email’s “Nudge” Effect: The many different ways consumers respond to interesting emails generated a lot of interest, especially because it means last-click attribution models significantly under-report the true effectiveness of the email channel. Komal noted that email’s “nudge effect” on other channels is huge, while Raphael felt this may be the single most important finding in the report. It also has implications for emails are designed – senders typically focus on having a primary CTA clearly visible “above the fold”. However, alternative routes to response like phone numbers, social media links, and physical addresses are typically found in email footers. The report’s findings suggest they should be far more prominent, and Nadwork’s Nadja von Massow suggested other alternative actions like calendar alerts could also have an important role to play.

Want to learn more? The Consumer Email Tracker is chock-full of valuable insights into what subscribers really want from their marketing emails, and DMA members can get a copy here. If you would like to learn more about the DMA email council (the official voice for the UK’s email community) and the great work we’re doing, or even attend a council meeting as a guest, contact us here – we’d love to hear from you!

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