The lack of any substantial data on the email marketing practices of retailers prompted Silverpop to undertake its first sweeping study of retail email marketing in 2005. Now in 2007, Silverpop has conducted the study again, and this revised evaluation helps marketers understand the changes email has undergone during the past two years.
With more email clients blocking images, the popular postcard-style layout has fallen from favor among emailers. In 2005, it was the format of 44 percent of the emails reviewed by Silverpop. This year, styles were more varied. While 26 percent of emails were postcard-style, 30% were designed like letters or newsletters, and 19 percent featured a single pane of text and art to top with rows or columns below.
While the layouts of retailers' emails have changed, the incentives to buy have largely remained the same. In both 2005 and 2007, three out of 10 retailers offer percent off sales; 11 percent offer free or discounted shipping.
List growth continues to plague all email marketers, and including a registration box or link on the home page is a valuable method of adding to a company's database. Yet U.K. retailers are nearly twice as likely as U.S. companies to bury opt-in requests within their Web sites.
A key change Silverpop found is a dramatic increase in the number of companies requesting nothing more than an email address to register. In 2005, nearly four out of 10 retailers asked for name and physical address along with an email address, and 24 percent required more detailed information – typically telephone numbers, personal interests and demographic information. Only 37 percent requested just an email address, compared to 61 percent in 2007.
Just as email marketers are making it easier to opt into campaigns, they're making it easier to opt out. In 2007, nearly six out of 10 companies sent recipients wishing to opt-out to pre-populated Web forms. Only 30 percent of companies did so in 2005. Yet a growing number of marketers have come to recognize that there are ways to keep consumers from saying goodbye forever by offering them choices. This year 32 percent of email opt-out links led to a preference center allowing registrants to make changes to their subscriptions. In 2005, only 12 percent did.
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