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Report reveals top UK retailers struggling with advanced email marketing techniques

Boots, Asos and Game gain top marks in annual benchmark study; personalisation and social media links ignored by most retailers.

BRANDS

Report reveals top UK retailers struggling with advanced email marketing techniques

The latest  annual email marketing benchmark study; ‘ Hitting the Mark’ carried out by dotMailer, reveals that, despite ticking the boxes when it comes to the basics of email marketing, top UK retailers are still failing to get the best results from email by neglecting advanced techniques like social media bookmarking links, personalisation and post-sales marketing.

Boots and ASOS topped the 2011 study, while the bottom of the table featured many large brands such as Sainsburys and Play.com.
 
After the addition of social media and mobile categories last year, the 2011 report includes a closer look at how the retailers use data on existing customers to tailor email campaigns. The new criteria have shaken up the league table, suggesting that few of the top performers from 2010 have continued to innovate in the last 12 months. Previous leaders HMV and Marks & Spencer have fallen to 10th and 19th respectively, while only Game stayed in the top ten, advancing from 5th place last year to 4th today.
 
When it comes to areas that need more focus, the lack of personalisation was notable, with only 11% showing any effort to make the most of the data held about existing customers to deliver a customised email. Elsewhere, only 19% of retailers used best practice HTML coding in their emails and only 43% of these rendered properly in email clients when images were turned off. Retailers also scored low marks for subject lines, with only 34% enticing the recipient to open the message and only 26% including social media bookmarking links.
 
It wasn’t all bad news however, with some positive trends continuing to shine through. Marketers are generally all using ‘friendly from’ addresses (89%), for example. In addition, nearly every email included a strong call to action (91%) and the majority also rendered well on a range of mobile devices (85%).
 
In other areas, the gap between good and bad was far greater, with only 51% keeping a consistent design between the email and website landing page, while only 45% requested relevant details at the point of sign-up. In a final shocking finding, only 55% made the unsubscribe link “prominent and clear”, a move which can frustrate users who by definition are already dissatisfied with what they are receiving.

The Hitting the Mark league table top five performers:
Boots                    76%
Asos                      72%
Boots Medical      71%
Game                    70%
Fragrance Direct  69%

“For two years in a row, there has been no obvious improvement made by the retailers assessed, which is disappointing given some of the simple steps that can be taken to boost the effectiveness of email marketing,” said Tink Taylor, Managing Director at dotMailer and a member of the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Marketing Council. “Email offers a highly cost-effective, trackable and accountable way of communicating with prospects and customers, but this latest study shows that too many are still getting it wrong.

“Hitting the Mark 2011 clearly demonstrates a lack of integration between email and social media, despite the latter’s growing popularity and influence. The combination of these two disciplines offers new ways for retailers to really engage with their stakeholders to deliver meaningful results such as interactions online, sales and loyalty,” continued Taylor.

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