A while back I blogged about the UK email marketing landscape, using the DMA’s Consumer Email Tracker report to consider “who does email really well?” through the eyes of consumers. More recently I visited Australia to present the keynote address at Return Path’s World Tour event, so I carried out some market-specific research to answer the same question for an Australian audience.
It quickly turned into a tough assignment—there are some really great senders in this region, with many already using artificial intelligence to drive sophisticated customer journeys, and real-time rendering at point of open. But we did eventually identify a best-in-class top-10. They all send well-crafted & relevant offers, using emails that are clear and concise, and crafting subject lines that are both descriptive and informative—everything discerning subscribers want from their emails.
But there are also some “secret sauce” ingredients that are common to these best-in-class senders. Here are five I identified while “down under” along with some fantastic examples that bring them to life:
Get delivered (and opened!)
Average inbox placement rates for Australia are running at a healthy 89 percent. However, the best-in-class senders do even better:
1. Return Path 2018 Deliverability Benchmark report
2. Return Path 2019 Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability report
On average, these programs place an additional 80K emails for every 1M they send. At the same time, they generate read rates 1/3 higher than the global average and complaint rates that are only ¼ the global average.
This kind of performance has real commercial value. Cheetah Digital calculates the average value of an email open at ± $0.60, while Bluecore shows the opportunity cost of suppressing an email is ± $25. Based on these numbers, a best-in-class premium can be calculated at ± $125K for every 1M emails sent (compared with benchmark-level senders).
It’s also worth calling out that—based on the programs we analyzed—Return Path plays a key role in helping senders achieve these best-in class performances! Nine out of the top 10 best-in-class senders are customers, while seven are also members of Return Path’s Certification program.
Trust is created right at the start of the email subscriber journey. Programs that create clear expectations around what new members will receive, and the value they will realize from being members, immediately establish greater trust.
When this happens, new subscribers are more likely to provide their primary email address—the one they use personally, as well as for a handful of their “best friend” brands. Marketers prize these addresses because of their high engagement levels.
Qantas does this really well. Here is the welcome email new subscribers receive when they join the Qantas Red program:
All these best practices establish trust, meaning 9 out of 10 program members provide primary email addresses (compared with 24 percent globally—see Return Path’s research here). In turn, these primary addresses generate practically all of this program’s read activity.
One of the most important things email subscribers want is choice over what types of emails they receive, and how frequently. For senders, the effectiveness of choice is clearly shown by the launch of Flight Centre’s new preference center.
We compared the three months pre-launch with the three months post-launch, and the benefits are clear. Read rates are now up by 1/6, Filtering rates are down by 1/3, and Complaint rates are down by 1/8.
Information, not just offers
An Epsilon report shows promotional emails still form ¾ of all email marketing volume. However, 40 percent of respondents to an Adobe survey said if there was one thing they would really like from senders, it would be to get less offers! Best-in-class email programs know this, as this simple but highly effective value statement email from Australia Post shows:
Further down in the email, postal box renters are reminded of their benefits: secure storage, 24/7 collection, and savings on renewal. The email also did a really smart thing by inviting customers to sign up for triggered notification emails whenever they have a new delivery. It’s great customer service, but triggered emails are also really high-performing message type and their program as a whole benefits from the increased engagement. While Australia Post already enjoys stellar open rates, this campaign did even better, generating pead rates 1/5 higher than the program benchmark.
HIgh-performance hidden metrics
Hidden metrics refer to inbox behaviours that are only visible to mailbox providers. They include actions such as forwards, replies, and not spam notifications. These provide mailbox providers with positive indications of email value, which in turn result in higher inbox placement rates because these senders are seen as “good actors”. Gmail has stated that “not spam” notifications are an “order of magnitude” more significant than spam complaints.
As an example, Australia’s best-in-class senders generate “Not Spam” rates that are 18X the global benchmark, and this will definitely contribute to their high-performance levels.
Woolworths Rewards does an exceptional job amplifying its “Not Spam” rate. Customers place a great deal of value in their loyalty rewards and personalized offers. While only a very small percentage of this program’s emails end up in the spam folder. When it does happen, subscribers go out of their way (almost 60X the global benchmark) to rescue them and reroute them to their inboxes.
If you want to move your email program into the best-in-class bracket, start by learning from those who are already there. The best practices outlined in this post are all underpinned by solid data that unequivocally proves its effectiveness. Start thinking about how you can leverage them right now, and who knows—maybe it’ll be one of your campaigns that I’ll be showcasing next time I come to Australia!