Emailcenter UK Subscriber Study: Say Something Worthwhile

Our partner Emailcenter, an email service provider in the UK, recently polled British consumers about their inbox habits and preferences. It’s a good study (free registration required) and the report is full of wonderful ideas to improve email marketing response and deliverability.

The main findings are straightforward:
1. Consumers get a lot of email.
2. Relevancy matters.
3. Many marketers take a short term, aggressive approach to email.

It’s not surprising the study finds that most email marketing is pretty terrible – it’s irrelevant, untargeted and poorly timed. What the study really points out is that consumers notice.

Luckily, all the factors that go into reversing this trend are under the control of the marketer.

Almost 64% of the respondents in the Emailcenter survey say that only a quarter of the marketing messages they get are relevant to them. Just a half a percent of them said all of it was relevant. With targeting, segmentation and dynamic content technology integrated in most email broadcast vendors and all the in-house software solutions, there is no reason why email marketers have to compromise any longer.

Using segmentation helps solve another big challenge for email marketers: frequency. In the study, 62% said that high frequency is a factor in making them wish to stop marketing messages. More than half say they got more than expected at sign up – with 36% reporting they got “more” and 16% reporting “far more.” We know from our Return Path data that high frequency and low relevance are key factors in complaints to the ISPs – which depress deliverability and lower response further. The Emailcenter report also has some good suggestions about educating executive management about the perils of overmailing.

Beyond too frequent messages, another 70% say that “no relevant products” was factor in making them wish to stop marketing messages from coming. A sizeable minority, 43%, said that their requirements changed. Again, all factors that we marketers control.

Subscribers aren’t asking that much of us. Many, 65%, said that they signed up to get exclusive discounts. A full 75% of respondents said that “special offers” is a key factor in their response to a marketing message. Another 55% said “relevant products.” My goodness! All we have to do to engage a majority of our subscribers is identify what products they are in market for and provide a compelling offer that makes them feel special and valued? Certainly that is within our grasp.

What happens when we push the limits? A full 75% of these respondents said they unsubscribe (this is much higher than the studies I’ve seen in the US. Another 40% say they just delete – which is like an emotional unsubscribe. They are lost subscribers. Only 14% said they click the Report Spam button, again significantly less than studies of US consumers.

Keep in mind the key finding here: that consumers notice what email marketers do. When we send something interesting and relevant at a good pace, they are happy to engage with us. When we don’t … well, then we’ve lost them, perhaps for good.

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