Don't spam me! (Part II of II)

Earlier this month, we discussed how important transactional messages are to the online shopping experience. Turns out that transactional email are just one type of email that your customers are actively seeking from you.

In a recent Return Path survey, we asked shoppers when they wanted to receive email. Large percentages answered that they wanted email when their order ships (89%) or when there is a delay in the order (86%). But we were also delighted to see that 86% want to get email when there is a sale or discount available.

However, the numbers start to fall off after that. Only 41% wanted email to hear about new merchandise. Despite wanting to hear about discounts, only 28% reported wanting to get email that an offer is about to expire or a sale end. And, bringing up the rear, only 23% want email that simply reminds them to come back and shop. (Respondents could choose multiple answers.)

The message here is pretty clear: consumers want real information. They do not want to be nagged into coming back to shop with you. Everyone talks about relevance, and this is why. You need to earn your place in the inbox. Transactional messages do that easily. Some sales messages meet those criteria, too. But a lot of promotional emails don’t pass the consumer smell test. And the proof is in declining response rates.

We find that for most clients a balance of email types is the best strategy. Combining promotions with informational emails (with tips, tricks or how-to) and well-executed transactional messages results in a holistic email program that is truly more than the sum of the parts.

About the Survey: Return Path’s Authentic Response division fielded a survey of over 900 consumers asking them if they shop through mail order (catalogs or online). Over 600 self-identified as mail order shoppers and then answered a series of questions on that experience. The survey was conducted in April 2006.

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