E-Marketers Face Challenges

Marketing communications firms apparently know what they are doing, as they tally the highest percentage of subscribers who click, open, and read e-mail, according to research from IMN (formerly, “iMakeNews”).

The study — based on nearly 109 million e-mails over three years — found that advertising, marketing, public relations, and related firms had the highest “unique open rate,” followed by retailers and financial services organizations.

Kathleen Goodwin, CEO of IMN, notes that while traditional marketing communication professionals and retailers both know how to create compelling subject lines, and creative and promotional offers, financial services firms often only distribute highly valuable information to a very select group.

“They [financial services firms] are learning what it takes to create compelling content — content that is not only informative, but educational,” Goodwin commented. “Retailers are traditional high volume direct marketers that use their communications to sell goods or create a transaction of some type. We see from our data that retailers are using their communications as a way to inform existing customers about new services and products — e-mail marketing is an important vehicle for achieving this task.”

Unique Open Rates by Industry
Marketing communications firms 63.2%
Retailers 55.0%
Financial services 47.6%
Manufacturing 43.4%
Nonprofit organizations 41.1%
Software development firms 40.9%
Source: IMN

Using their tech tools, software development firms might be able to increase their unique open rates but their success will depend in creating compelling creative to drive action.

“I think that software development firms will move ahead quickly once they understand the tenets of bringing a prospect through the cycle of sales from awareness building to purchase — they have the technology side down. However, what they have to learn about is how their prospects and customers move along this selling cycle — that it is a continuous learning and education process for both themselves and their prospects. The ability to understand how their prospects are digesting information and content — collateral versus a white paper versus a seminar — in relationship to their buying cycle is critical,” Goodwin remarked.

IMN also found that product-oriented content inspired the most responses from readers, at 29 percent. Company news received 18 percent of “unique clickthroughs” — the percentage of subscribers who not only open and start to read their e-mail, but then click an inside link for additional information — followed by industry news at 14 percent, and “tips and tricks” at 11 percent.

Clickthroughs are among the best methods for measuring e-mail reaction, as the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) cites a Bigfoot Interactive study indicating that the majority of opt-in subscribers delete e-mail, rather than unsubscribe.

Reactions to E-mail
Type Delete Unsubscribe
Ignore Filter
Opt-in newsletter 57.7% 4.6% 8.2% 5.2% 2.5%
Opt-in service message 58.7% 4.2% 7.1% 3.2% 3.1%
Opt-in marketing/promo 62.8% 3.7% 7.6% 4.8% 2.8%
Base: 1,023 U.S. adults
Source: Bigfoot Interactive, April 2003

With spammers exploiting e-mail filtering systems, legitimate e-marketers are continually challenged to find ways to reach subscribers. Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent) suggests that marketers outsource e-mail technology functions when volume exceeds 200,000 messages per month to improve campaign results and execution time.

Furthermore, outsourced e-mail marketing solutions are more adept at dealing with spam filtering issues than in-house, and Jupiter Research Senior Analyst David Daniels notes that in-house e-mail marketing suites are rivaling the cost of outsourced solutions.

Daniels commented that marketers “continue to embrace simple segmentation tactics and field marketing offers solely based on price, which ultimately does little to drive long-term customer loyalty.”

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