Poor targeting hampers email marketing

New research jointly published by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and fast.MAP has revealed poor targeting and a lack of understanding of consumers' email usage as the central challenges for email marketing practitioners.

According to the findings of the inaugural Digital Tracking Study, 64 per cent of 1,860 consumers polled said they find less than one in 10 of the marketing emails they receive as interesting or relevant.

Additionally, access to email is far more restricted than is commonly assumed. Just 40 per cent said they have email access at work, and 11 per cent said they read their emails via their mobile or smartphone.

The research also reveals the basis on which consumers rate the value of the marketing emails they receive. For the emails that are correctly targeted and relevant, three in five stated that 'money off' offers are their preferred email content, far ahead of second-placed 'free delivery' notices on 18 per cent.

More than 60 per cent said they would be motivated to forward a marketing email to friends and family if they deemed it to have informative content, with a similar number saying they would share an email if they found it humorous.

A quarter of the respondents cited Tesco as producing the best marketing emails, with Argos and Marks & Spencer claiming second and third places respectively. One-third of consumers also rated emails from brands within the travel and tourism, retail, food and entertainment and media sectors as producing marketing emails with the most value of all industry sectors.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Chris Combemale, Executive Director of the DMA said: "As the Digital Tracking Study's findings show, we in media land have a distorted view of the way in which people use email. Most people aren't constantly checking their emails via smartphones. Furthermore, we aren't being smart enough about the way in which we target consumers. However, the good news is that when email does work well it's an extremely effective direct response channel; 85 per cent of consumers are spurred into positive action by relevant marketing emails. This means there is tremendous room for improvement."

Will Schnabel, vice president of international markets for Silverpop, the report's sponsor, commented: "While consumers' specific needs and interests may change over time, at least one concept will always hold true. Consumers now want companies to engage them in a dialogue, add value to the relationship and make their lives easier. Marketers that successfully do this will reap tremendous benefits. While today's email marketing landscape presents many challenges, for marketers who listen to their customers and deliver what they want the possibilities are endless."

The biannual Digital Tracking Study will monitor the development of email and social media marketing to provide insight for marketers into emerging trends and consumer behaviour around digital marketing.

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