Research Study: Creating Great Subscriber Experiences

Posted by Bonnie Malone 

With all the industry buzz around relevance, you would expect that the email marketing programs of most major US brands would be fairly sophisticated. Best practices, like sending a welcome message and targeted segmentation would be common. Preference centers would be everywhere. But, our recent study of 61 top-brand marketers found that wasn’t typically the case. (And, we’re talking about companies like Best Buy, Nike, Sony, and Disney, to name a few.) In fact, we were rather surprised by the findings:

Anyone home? A shocking 60% of the companies in our survey did not send a welcome message. Of the 40% that did send a welcome message, only 33% sent it within 24 hours. The remaining 7% took anywhere from two days to three weeks.

Blackhole? The shock of the missing welcome messages was compounded by the astonishing number of companies – 30%! – who didn’t send any email within a month of sign up. While the majority did start sending email soon after subscribe, engagement – which is key in the first 30-days – was lacking.

Data overload! 70% of companies asked for a lot of data (name, address, birthday, and so on) at subscribe, and the bulk of them – 75% – never used it. This “just in case” mentality is not a good experience for subscribers that are forced to complete long forms and preferences when the potential benefit is never realized.

“Special” offers? Even across four very different industry verticals, the marketing offers (Free Shipping! Discount! Sweepstakes!) were surprisingly the same. Often these types of offer strategies are self-fulfilling and addictive. Why not use valuable content to drive readership and stand out from the crowd?

If these challenges sound familiar, take a step back and reassess your email program. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Watch our webcast. We’ve presented the top findings from the study and given some tips for how you apply the practices of the best marketers to your program.

2. Read the research study. When you sign up for the webcast you will receive an email with a link to the full study. Read it. Share it. Read it again.

3. Sign up for our education series, Subscriber Rules. Our three-email series will offer more advice for creating great subscriber experiences. To sign up, email and put “Subscriber Rules” in the subject line.

4. Have your program assessed by our experts: Get customized advice from one of our strategic services experts. If you are a current Return Path client, contact your Account Manager to a session scheduled. If you are not a current client you can apply for our Report Card program.

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About Bonnie Malone

Bonnie is passionate about excellent customer experience. With a background in marketing, merchandise buying, and retail management, she helps companies stay relevant amid the changing digital landscape. Bonnie leads the knowledge and consulting teams at Return Path, the global leader in email deliverability. She is an active Email Experience Council committee member, featured speaker for events, and writes monthly for the Return Path blog and TotalRetail.

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