Companies wanting to improve the effectiveness of e-mail campaigns need to pack more value in their messages, e-mail marketing firm Silverpop says.
Based on a study of e-mail campaigns conducted by more than 175 major retailers, Silverpop says firms are not taking advantage of the creative potential and technological power e-mail offers.

“Many marketers already use e-mail to drive incremental revenue,” said Bill Nussey, chief executive officer of Silverpop. “But in order to achieve maximum impact and firmly establish a solid, revenue-producing relationship, companies must deliver such high customer value in their e-mails that customers actually anticipate receiving the next message. Successful programs combine compelling calls-to-action, rich, eye-catching imagery and appropriate timing to reach consumers when they are most ready to buy.”

Silverpop released a study earlier this year focused on registration practices used by retailers.

Among the firms monitored for the story were Crate & Barrel, Neiman Marcus, JC Penney and CompUSA.

“The range of practices is quite striking. When we reviewed the creative elements of hundreds of e-mail campaigns, we found stellar examples that truly maximize the medium right alongside well-meaning but misguided attempts to force traditional print formats into the e-mail channel,” Nussey said. “Too many retailers fail to capitalize on the unique persuasiveness of the medium obtainable through rich and highly personalized dynamic content, and as a result, suffer deliverability issues, poor brand image and sub-optimal returns.”

Among recommendations made in the study are:

  • Stop selling to strangers

  • Offer a reason to buy

  • Enhance the art of the e-mail.

  • Give customers a choice
  • A third part of the study addresses opt-out procedures will be released this fall.

    B2B Can Be Utilized Better as Well

    Business-to-business (B2B) e-mail marketing can also generate leads and drive sales revenues, Silverpop says. The key issue to overcome is deliverability.

    Citing statistics from JuperResearch (89 percent average deliverability of messages, not including “bounces”) and MarketingSherpa (14 percent of B2B e-mails bounce), Silverpop estimates 25 percent of B2B e-mails are not delivered.

    “It’s easy to see why deliverability is now a big concern among marketers,” said Elaine O’Gorman, vice president of strategy for Silverpop, in a statement. “Despite the low cost of e-mail, when fully 25 percent of your prospects and customers aren’t receiving your messages, overall campaign performance can be tremendously impacted by poor deliverability.”

    O’Gorman offered several tips on how to improve B2B delivery:

    “1. Configurations: Bad message configurations will lead to deliverability problems. If you suspect configuration problems are harming your sends, use a delivery service provider to audit your system.

    “2. IP Address: Poor list hygiene or frequent complaints can lead to permanent blocks over time. To identify trouble spots, conduct an audit of your IP address. If you find an insurmountable problem, change your IP. “Don’t make a habit of switching IPs, though. You’ll look like a spammer,” O’Gorman warned.

    “3. Bounce Management: You must be able to accept inbound bounces quickly and take steps to remove bad addresses. Be sure to have an address set up to receive feedback from ISPs, and monitor it frequently.

    “4. Mail Regularly: Churn isn’t just for butter. You should mail to everyone on your list at least once every 90 days.”

    “5. Reduce Complaints: Ask for permission, be relevant and don’t over mail. It’s also wise to be extremely conservative with list rentals.

    “6. Test Content: Run outbound e-mail through a content-evaluation system like SpamAssassin to ensure your messages won’t be trapped in spam filters.

    “7. Brand: Use your brand in the “from” line and use the same address consistently. Make sure your brand and logo are viewable in the preview pane.

    “8. Reputation/Authentication: If you haven’t already, make plans to implement all three e-mail authentication schemes – SPF, SenderID and DomainKeys.”