Oxfam, the global charity, has been in the press for all the wrong reasons recently. I won’t dwell on the accusations of abuse and sexual misconduct that have been made against Oxfam representatives in Haiti and the Philippines. However, they do illustrate how events in the broader environment can impact email program performance.
In the DMA UK’s recently released Consumer Email Tracker report, one in five respondents said they would mark an email as spam because of: 1) loss of trust with the sender’s brand; 2) a negative customer experience, or; 3) they simply no longer like the brand in question.
Consumers may have no issue specifically with a brand’s email program. However, if they are negatively disposed for other reasons (e.g. bad press), and their next touchpoint with that brand is an email, they will be more likely to engage negatively—by marketing the email as spam.
Oxfam’s recent complaint rate trend clearly illustrates this principle:
Reporting from Return Path’s global consumer data network.
For context, it’s worth noting that in Return Path’s 2018 Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability report global average Complaints rates are 0.17 percent – Oxfam is currently running 10x higher!
In fairness to Oxfam, this is by no means the only example where erosion of consumer trust has an impact on email performance:
The reverse can also hold true, and it depends on what triggered the complaints.
These external influences all have real economic impact for their senders, for three reasons:
The examples I’ve presented all illustrate an important principle. Email senders should remember trust is earned, not given. Many consumers are “data pragmatists”, willing to part with personal information if there is a clear reward for doing so. Marketing audiences built on a strong foundation of trust have greater longevity, and yield more value, than those which aren’t.
Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base that now spans nearly 15 years, he is a global e-mail expert and thought leader. Leading Return Path’s International Professional Services consulting team, Guy has worked with a broad range of clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue generated. Outside of work, Guy is the Chairman of the DMA Email Council. In this role, he works with industry peers including brands, agencies, and service providers to promote the best interests of the email industry to a broader audience. He is also a regular contributor to the industry press.
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