The Impact of Email Engagement on Deliverability
For as long as any of us can remember, there are two holy grails of marketing: The one-to-one relationship and the closed loop. With the advent of email marketing and other data-rich digital channels, marketers probably thought they had cracked it. Here is the opportunity to deliver directly to an individual, wherever they may be, at a low cost compared to many other channels. You also get an immediate response, thanks to the advent of mobile devices, with minimal disruption to individual’s daily routine.
Reach Over Relevancy
It also means marketers can efficiently track and monitor responses and ultimately automate the whole campaign process. But automation can bring its own culture of complacency. Why not increase your reach and deliver to everyone? Why not send emails more frequently? After all, it takes no more effort; email marketing has always had a return on investment, so it’s license to print money, isn’t it? We’ll see later that this is not the case anymore. In the meantime, I could name and shame a number of brands who still don’t execute any form of customer segmentation or relevancy today.
Has deliverability become a commodity?
Email deliverability has always been an obsession in marketing—but in reality, it’s much more of a commodity than it ever has been. If you look at any industry benchmark reports, you’ll see that delivery rates have consistently increased over the last few years and leveled out at around the 98% mark. This is a good indicator of following best practices, but it doesn’t mean that marketers can take their eye off the ball. What it does mean is that deliverability is not a differentiator anymore.
So, what’s the true measure for email marketing? The ultimate answer is revenue. You manage that through email engagement. Email engagement isn’t just about open rates, click-through rates, or click-to-opens—it’s also about managing your targeting and personalizing the experience for all your customers.
According to the latest Email Benchmark Report from DMA UK, open and click-through rates declined over the past two years. There are two likely reasons for this: Marketers are sending more emails at a greater cost and, critically, more of those emails are now going to the spam folder. If you don’t believe that last statement, check your Gmail junk folder… you might be surprised to see some genuine emails in there.
Whereas deliverability is based on a brands’ reputation, inbox placement is based on the user’s engagement with that brand. The likes of Google (Gmail) and Microsoft (Hotmail, Outlook) now control the folder placement in the inbox. If a user does not engage with a brand over a period of time, the next email is more likely to end up in spam. This can become self-fulfilling; the inclination is to send more frequent emails to increase the likelihood of opens, but if your emails are already to going to spam, over time your email costs will increase but your revenue will continue to decline. The more emails that are delivered to the spam folder over time also increases sensitivity on subject line filtering.
Relevancy Over Reach
So, what’s the approach when email engagement is in decline, which means a greater chance of emails ending up in the spam folder? It’s quite simple really. You must execute tried and tested marketing best practices to make all communications as relevant as possible. Understand your customers, their behaviors, preferences, and their value. Then segment and target accordingly with the most appropriate offer at the optimal time on the most relevant channel.
To achieve this, the marketer needs access to all available data and be able to analyze it within a single platform. You need to understand the value of your customers across the spectrum and where they are most engaged; not all high-value customers want emails and not all of your customers are high value.
An email marketer’s steps to success:
- Target your marketing
- Stay out of the spam folder
- Increase your engagement
- Protect and grow your email revenue again
In the case of email, more is not necessarily better. The “spray and pray,” or “batch and blast,” approaches are effectively dead. Instead, use tactical, data-driven targeting and personalization to provide the best possible customer experience.
Need a tool to accomplish this? Funny you should ask. Alterian’s Adaptive Customer Experience™ Platform was built from the ground up to solve major marketing problems just like this. Get in touch and check out our resources to learn more.
Matt Sawkins, Product Marketing Manager
After a successful career in the North Sea and Middle East oil industry, Matt transitioned his passion for data to customer data and campaign management solutions. He has spent the last 16 years designing and delivering solutions to clients and partners. He brings a great wealth of knowledge and experience to the Alterian product marketing team. Previously Director of Professional Services in EMEA, Matt has consulted with numerous organizations in the Australia, South Korea, Europe, and the US. His expertise is data and deeply understanding it to drive insights and decisions.
With three daughters, Matt spends his spare time focused on family. He enjoys broadening their horizons with his interests in travel, food, hiking, and cycling.