American Marketer


Triggered emails see 96pc more opens than regular campaigns: study

April 6, 2012


Event-triggered emails are the most crucial messages sent by marketers with an open rate 96 percent higher than traditional email campaigns, according findings from Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association.

The study conducted by Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council found that there was a 24.8 percent open rate for emails sent during quarter four of 2011 while the click-through rate virtually stayed constant from 5.7 percent in quarter three to 5.2 percent in quarter four. The promise seems to be in triggered emails, which the organizations studied for the first time, since these messages had a 125 percent higher click rate over business-as-usual emails.

“For all brand categories including luxury, it is very important for marketers to target the right audiences at the right time with a personalized and relevant message,” said Jennifer Wiese, Lafayette, CO-based analytic consultant at Aspen Marketing Services, a division of Epsilon. “A good way to do this is with triggered messages and the use of dynamic content.

“The channel performance is even greater when marketers send messages that are triggered based on behavior or milestones," she said.

Inbox takeover
Triggered email message outdid their traditional counterparts by an exorbitant rate this year, which proves that the time and effort that luxury marketers take to craft these emails could be a factor that drives sales.

Emails that were examined in this category include welcome, thank-you, anniversary, birthday, saved cart and cancel auto-responses.

These messages represented 2.8 percent of total email volume examined in the report, the highest volume of triggered emails ever studied by the organizations.

In addition to a 96-percent higher open rate, triggered email click-throughs increased 13.6 percent year over year to 48 percent in quarter four.

Luxury retailers deploy these types of emails often.

For example, an email from Neiman Marcus was sent after a signed-in user had items waiting in the online shopping cart. The subject line was “Don't forget! You have items in your shopping bag!”

Neiman Marcus trigger email

The non-bounce rate was also strong for triggered messages at only 1 percent lower than business-as-usual emails, which was 96.3 percent.

Triggered messages allow marketers to create reusable email templates, which lowers the cost, Ms. Wiese said.

“The performance of triggered messages versus business-as-usual was even higher than expected,” Ms. Wiese said. "Triggered messages allow marketers to create a better customer experience tailored to actions carried out by their customers.”

Open the mail
There was a 24.8-percent open rate for the 8.5 billion emails studied from 140 participating businesses.

Open rates increased a notable 12.2 percent year over year and 4.2 percent quarter over quarter.

This could likely be the result of decreased image blocking now that iOS devices display images by default, Ms. Wiese said.

This mobile platform grew more than any other in 2009 and 2011 and now accounts for more than 16 percent of the market, she said.

“Mobile users check email more often, which translates into more opens for relevant messages as they open them on their mobile device and potentially re-open on their PC,” Ms. Wiese said.

Luxury marketers are using a number of tactics to increase opens this quarter with enticing subject headlines (see story).

For example, Harrods teased its new series of emails dedicated to its Wedding Guide with the subject line “Wedded bliss: how to be the best dressed bridal party,” which could appeal to the emotions of luxury consumers who are overwhelmed with the encroaching season.

Harrods Wedding Guide email

In addition, Giorgio Armani used a call-to-action style headline in its email called “Shop the look: Contemporary flowers” that highlighted its new Emporio Armani collection.

Emporio Armani email

A definitive feature that can increase opens is the use of pre-header text or HTML text that appears before or within the header of an email that can be read in preview panes and mobile devices, Ms. Wiese said.

Retailers should use pre-header text to summarize content and maximize the mobile experience, she said.

The study results also showed that average volume per client increased by 41.5 percent quarter-over-quarter, which is attributed to the high-profit margin holiday season.

There was a volume increase in holiday emails of 21 percent year-over-year, according to the study.

“With yearly increases in deployment volumes, email continues to be an effective and cost-efficient way to communicate with customers,” Ms. Wiese said.

“Test and pay attention to your copy, especially sender names, subject lines and preview panes,” she said. “Understanding the devices that your consumers use will also help you tailor content to optimize their viewing experience.”

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York