Email marketing has a ROI OF 42X. That's higher than social media's rETURN ON INVESTMENT.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to attend Email Stock 21, a conference on (you’ve guessed it!) email marketing best practices in 2021.
One of the most informative sessions at #EmailStock21 was Hitting the right note: email engagement trends of 2021 and what brands can learn from them, by Pathwire’s Bea Redondo and Nick Shafer. Here’s a recap.
Email engagement: why should you care?
It’s hard to get someone to act on your email promotion and buy your product or sign up for your service if that email never lands on the inbox.
ISPs use this rationale to classify email senders. The better the email, the more likely you are to land in the inbox. ISPs use email engagement as a strong signal (both positively and negatively).
For instance, if your subscribers open your emails, click on the links and spend some time going through your content, that’s a great positive sign for ISPs, and your ranking will go up.
On the other hand, if the interaction your subscribers have with your emails is to mark you as spam, or spend only a few seconds on your content, or they don’t even open your emails, that’s a solid negative sign that your content is not aligned with your users’ expectations – and ISPs will lower your ranking.
As such, organizations need to constantly adapt their email marketing to user behavior to maintain a good deliverability rate.
Most used email clients
According to a survey by Pathwire, the most popular email clients vary based on where your subscribers are located.
Gmail is the most popular email client, with 65%. The 2nd place is Outlook (in Europe, 15%) or Yahoo if you’re in the US (8%).
Some email marketers state that Gmail has quite strict guidelines and that one may land on the spam list too easily. Gmail has implemented great rules and best practices focused on the user experience and should serve as a guideline for your email marketing programs.
It’s hard to get someone to act on your special offer if your email never lands on the inbox.
Email junkies? Yes, we are.
Covid has accelerated the email junkie effect.
Going back to Pathwire’s survey, 63% of respondents check their personal emails at least twice a day. A hopping 25% check their email more than 5 times a day!
Surprisingly, only about half of users on Gmail have the Gmail Tabs active. Pathwire’s research has further identified that, for the Gmail users who do have the Gmail Tabs active, half of them check the Promotions tab daily.
Gmail: the Promotions Tab effect
Let’s spend more time on the subject of the Promotions tab.
Many marketing managers are not comfortable with the idea of getting their band emails landing on the Promotions Tab.
Sure, fewer people check the Promotions tab than their inbox. But if your email landed there, that’s probably because you have a special offer or promotion in your email somewhere. It’s not a bad thing to have emails landing in the right folder.
So, even if your email lands on the Promotions tab, it’s not that your message won’t get seen by your subscribers – in most cases, it’s more about when subscribers see your email.
Why do users sign up to receive emails from brands?
People want to hear from brands. According to Pathwire:
79% of respondents want to hear from brands at least once a week
52% want to hear from brands more than once a week
And what kind of content do people want to hear about?
- 56.4% of respondents sign up for emails to receive special offers.
- 52.5% sign up for emails to receive a one-off discount
There are also some interesting responses:
39% sign up to hear about the latest updates (launches, news, products)
20% want to get personalized recommendations
17% sign up for emails to receive new articles, blog posts, and educational content.
79% of subscribers expect to hear from brands at least once a week
What drives people to open emails?There is a sharp difference between how many emails we get depending on where we’re based:
If you’re based in the US, you probably receive 50+ emails per day. In Europe, expect an average of 20 emails per day .
Regardless of the reasons behind this variation, it’s a crucial piece of information to consider: How will you stand out from the competition?
Part of the answer lies in what makes people open their emails:
- Recognizing the sender: 89% say that it’s an essential factor. Show your subscribers that you know them, by using their first name and customizing your content.
- Having time to read the email, said 87% of respondents.
- Email seems personalized to the recipient’s interests: this is very important for 46%.
It’s a standard practice to include personalization tags to customize your emails. First name, job title, and organization are fairly common, and users do appreciate it.
Quick tips to bounce back from low rankings
1. Adapt volume and content2020 was a disruptive year at all levels, and email marketing saw a significant shift. Given the forced shift to digital, clients now expect more emails from brands:
40% of brands registered an increase in their open rates, and 38% experienced a spike in their clickthrough rates as well.Here’s what you can do:
- Increase the volume & frequency of your emails
- Offer more relevant, customized, and human-centered content
- Test simpler designs
2. The return of the special offer
It’s no surprise that engagement is key when it comes to communications and marketing campaigns. But it’s even more critical when dealing with email marketing.
Since your delivery rates are directly affected by how ISPs rank your reputation, and ISPs’ main ranking criteria is your list’s engagement rates, it’s no wonder why email marketers can be so obsessed with delivery rates, open rates, clickthrough rates (CTR), and return on investment.
So, if your email marketing performance is sinking, and your delivery rates are impacted, you may want to restart sending special offers to your subscribers.
Remember: 56% sign up for emails to receive special offers.
Spin-up those offers again, so you get as much engagement as possible – this will rank you higher with ISPs, thus increasing your delivery rates.
3. List hygiene: clean up outdated and fake accountsHave you ever noticed that, when you have an amazing promotion, you end up getting several signups from emails that only connect with you once?
Many people create one-off emails to subscribe to special promotions. Usually, the person already used a “real” email to access your promotion, but wants more – so, at the end of the trial, instead of paying for the service, the user simply signs up as a new client under a new, disposable email.
The problem with disposable emails is that, once the offer or free trial ends, most often than not, the user stops engaging with your email programs. No opens, no clicks. Not only this hurts your performance stats, but most importantly, it sends a negative signal to the ISPs – jeopardizing your delivery rates.
Clean up outdated and fake email accounts often to guarantee good email list hygiene.
- Add proper authentication to your emails, and set up DMARC, DKIM, SPF.
- Make sure your users know it’s you by using consistent form names and adding BIMI.
- Keep adapting your content, frequency, and format to consistently add value to your subscribers. Their needs may constantly be changing.
- Set up sunset policies and preference centers.
- Simplify your content. All your email marketing should do is get your users’ attention, so they want to click on the link to your website.
email marketing performance is sinking? send special offers to your subscribers to boost up your email engagement.
email engagement trends for 2021: Summing up
Email marketing is a powerful tool to connect with your customers. With + 80% of professionals stating that email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention, and with an estimated ROI of 42x, this is a tool that will continue to impact your business positively.
If you’d like to discuss further tips on how to leverage your email marketing programs, don’t hesitate to reach out.