Less can be more and more can be more


The Wall Street Journal reports that some large retailers are scaling back their email marketing. Benefits of sending less mail include higher open rates, lower unsubscribe rates and an increase in sales.

Since cutting back its volume, Nicole Miller has seen the rate at which customers “unsubscribe”—or request to stop receiving emails—drop, and the percentage of recipients who open the emails has grown from 15% to 40%, […] the percentage of online sales that began with an email has grown to 17% from 10%.

Other retailers, however, see a benefit to increasing volume if the emails are customized to each individual user.

In 2010, Neiman began using customer data to tailor its emails. It uses online purchase history, in-store purchase history linked to its credit card, and online cookies that track behavior on its website to learn what brands, categories and types of deals customers favor. It can then target email about a Marc Jacobs launch to customers who tend to buy Marc Jacobs purses, for instance.
Open rates and click through rates have increased by 10% to 20% since the chain started customizing its emails, Mr. Shockey said. “We keep a close eye on unsubscribe rates,” he added. “If they were to climb, we would investigate.”

What I get out of this article is a lot of interesting market research data, but also confirmation that different markets tolerate and respond to different things. Some recipient groups are going to love daily emails. Some are going to burn out quickly at that frequency.
Successful email marketing is a lot more than just sending a pretty email with the right kind of text. It’s about sending to the right people at the right time. The days of batch and blast the same offer to the same file are not over, and probably never will be. But the days of them being the most effective way to monetize a customer list are drawing to a close.

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  • Thanks for posting this Laura! This coverage is a big win for the industry and me personally.

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