There’s no doubt that the landscape has changed significantly in recent times, with consumers now increasingly demanding real time, intelligent interactions across a range of channels.However, email is still a key part of that mix.
How well is the industry doing? It’s hard to put a finger on it without having some actual data to learn from.
At Experian, we’ve decided to bust all myths and analysed over 20,000 email campaigns in the UK and Ireland – consisting of more than 2.5 billion sends – in Q2 2015 alone, comparing it with campaigns in the same period last year, to map the performance of email as a marketing channel across a number of key industries, such as B2B, cosmetics, fashion retail, financial services, media & entertainment and travel.
The trends we’ve discovered provide invaluable insight, allowing a glimpse into not only what is happening but also why.
The most notable finding of all is the changing way consumers are interacting with email campaigns.
Over 50 per cent of emails are now opened on mobile devices which has far reaching implications for engaging a brand’s audience. Mobile users behave differently to desktop users: they are more likely to open emails but less likely to click through. This behaviour is mostly the result of context and surroundings – mobile users are now continuously in touch with their inbox meaning they can open freely, but if they’re on the move they may also be more easily distracted, making it harder for content to engage.
This explains why emails were 3 per cent more likely to be opened in Q2, 2015 as compared with the previous year but it also meant that there was a 3 per cent year-on-year decrease in overall click-to-open rate for all industries.
With mobile users increasing over time, it is now more important than ever for marketers to consider context and relevancy when sending emails – placing the recipient’s most likely location and current circumstances at the centre of that consideration.
Financial Services – the winner of the quarter?
Not all segments performed equally in the examined period. While engagement levels in many sectors stagnated or even slightly decreased, they significantly increased year-on-year for financial services.
Emails sent in Q2, 2015 were 20 per cent more likely to be opened and nearly 30 per cent more likely to be clicked than those sent in Q2, 2014. This performance should be viewed in the wider context of a growing digital finance industry; as retail finance consumers in particular become more and more accustomed to online and mobile banking, email will continue to act as an important channel.
However, despite the significant increase, average unique click rate for the financial services industry remains 47 per cent lower than the ‘all industry’ average, as financial services emails tend to be information-heavy – with less incentive to click through – and therefore are expected to generate lower levels of click activity.
Time for reengagement
One sector that saw significant decrease of engagement is cosmetics. Industry emails sent in Q2, 2015 were 9 per cent less likely to be opened and 33 per cent less likely to be clicked than those sent the previous year. This downward trend in engagement may be linked to the 29 per cent increase in volume of emails sent year-on-year.
This is a very important observation as brands these days can’t afford to overwhelm their customers. In today’s connected world, consumers demand a highly personalised experience to match their unique needs. Hence marketers experiencing a decline in engagement following a substantial increase in volume should consider analysing the composition of their audience.
If more emails are being sent to lower-engaged email addresses, there is an opportunity to take these segments out of business as usual campaigns and place them into re-engagement programmes.
Personalise, personalise, personalise
Today, data and insight are the most valuable tools marketers can have. Using and analysing data to understand a brand’s audience, what they like and what they expect is crucial to be able to deliver the kind of personalised and engaging experience that consumers demand.
Having an understanding about how all your channels perform, including email, is vital. Assessing how engagement levels change over time, as well as which industries continue to get the most out of which channel, can add an invaluable layer of insight for marketers when they are planning their campaigns.
The landscape is evolving fast, but with the right tools at your disposal, delivering real time communications with your audience, across all your channels, is now well within your grasp.
Image courtesy of lifeloofah.com