Fifty-Four Percent of Consumers Open Product-Oriented Email When Clear Customer Action is Included

SparkPost, the world’s largest email delivery and analytics engine that delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s email, today published the results of a consumer survey co-developed with leading global survey software company SurveyMonkey. The survey captures how retail consumers feel about marketing communications from their favorite retail brands – what marketing activity promotes consumer engagement and digital purchases, and what brands are doing that drive consumers away.

The survey analyzed data from 1,124 consumer research responses and measured it against SparkPost’s 1.5 million consumer recipient email activity data and performance panel. The survey results highlight consumer preferences as they compare to their actual behavior, and surfaces both missed retail marketing opportunities, and recommendations for tactics to boost engagement, customer satisfaction, and stronger brand-and-customer relationships.

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Three key trends surfaced, with data supporting the overall need for brands to take regular stock of their brand communications and measure resonance and reaction, illustrating the importance of executing campaigns aligned with consumer expectations.

1. Content is Important but Context Rules: It’s clear that consumers may not always know what they want, but they usually know what they don’t want. The importance of brands paying attention to the latter is on the rise as consumers are only interested in receiving highly relevant and timely content that is contextualized by their interests. A spray-and-pray approach to email is a significant disservice to both brand and customer.

  • Over half (53%) of survey respondents report they “always” or “usually” open emails from brands when it includes information about a product
  • Over 92% of respondents have at some point unsubscribed from a brand’s email, most often because “Emails come too often” (60% of respondents agree), followed closely by simply having lost interest in the brand” (54%), and “irrelevant content” (50%)
  • A deal or discount is the top email subject line driver of opened email (58%)
  • Personalized communication is highly successful, but up-and-coming tactics aren’t moving the needle for brands: only 12% of consumers report they care to see their name or an emoji (7%) in email subject lines

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2. Retailers May Be Missing The Boat for Post-Purchase Opportunities: Retailers need to equally prioritize energy spent on both customer acquisition and post-purchase engagement. Surveys, product/service reviews, product tips/tricks, and recommendations for the next purchase are among the most crucial for keeping consumers engaged long-term.

  • Post-purchase, 60% of respondents use general online research to understand a product, compared to 27% using specific information, instructions and/or tutorials on the company’s website. What pales in comparison is the 19% of respondents that look to post-purchase email as a direct source for such information
  • Email is a great tool for brands to use for re-engagement that then drives future revenue. Sixty-four percent of consumers want information featuring special deals/discounts on future purchases, and they also like product recommendations to be shared via email as well
  • 23% need information on upcoming changes to products and services
  • 20% want follow-up with next-purchase suggestions

3. Surprisingly, consumers report that email may influence purchases, but not drive them. However, research shows that’s far from the truth: The survey data suggests consumers used email communications as a research tool more than a purchasing channel, but retailers report the opposite, according to a January 2020 Transactional Email Benchmark Report by SparkPost. Consumers are buying directly through the email channel more often than they think.

  • Only 18% of consumers say they are pushed to click ‘buy’ through an email communication, contradictory to 50% of brand marketers that report email is ‘very important’ in driving conversion; 70% note email is very important to driving engagement
  • Thirty-seven percent of consumers rely more on social media and review sites for information to drive purchases compared to just 28% that look primarily for information on corporate websites

“It’s clear the Coronavirus has brands working with new, unforeseen economic constraints which have really impacted retailers. Marketing budgets and teams have been slashed, pressuring brands to be laser focused on consumer needs and high-performing channels,” said Hal Muchnick, Chief Commercial Officer at SparkPost. “Being able to effectively communicate and engage via a reliably strong channel like email is critical to success for brands moving forward. This survey spotlights where brands can pivot and reprioritize to better serve customers and push business and loyalty forward.”

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