2011TOP RETAILERSSTUDY:Benchmarks, Trendsand Tactics forBetter Marketing                     Email.Marketing.Automation
STUDY2011 TOP RETAILERS STUDY:Benchmarks, Trends and Tactics for Better MarketingO               nline marketing continues...
STUDYLocation of Opt-in on the Home Page                                                         Subscription Options Offe...
STUDYUse of Double Opt-in                                                                         relevancy and the use of...
16 to 20       4%                                                                   2010                 2%               ...
STUDYNot only are the vast majority of retailers using discounts as part of their                                        U...
STUDYthe importance of maintaining a strong connection between both popular                         Using Cart Abandonment...
STUDY                                                                                               Preference Centers for...
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Silverpop's Top 500 Retailers Study

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Silverpop 2011-top-500-retailers-study

  1. 1. 2011TOP RETAILERSSTUDY:Benchmarks, Trendsand Tactics forBetter Marketing Email.Marketing.Automation
  2. 2. STUDY2011 TOP RETAILERS STUDY:Benchmarks, Trends and Tactics for Better MarketingO nline marketing continues to evolve in exciting ways for both as key spots for improvement, and also pinpointed several important retailers and customers, with new communication channels differentiators between top performers and the rest of the pack. emerging at a rapid rate. The rise of social media has helped The Studyshift thinking from one-to-one targeting to one-to-one dialogues. Smart To evaluate the Top 500 online retailers, we first looked at a larger samplephones and tablets have taken mobile to a new level of functionality and size to compare the practices of the elite performers against other retailers.interactivity. Even the inbox is changing, with ISPs and email clients moving Silverpop researchers logged onto the websites of 630 top retailers identifiedtoward a multichannel inbox that prioritizes messages based on relevance. by Internet Retailer and registered to receive emails from each that had an email marketing program. The following items were evaluated:Retailers looking to thrive in this changing marketplace by integratingmessages across channels, efficiently nurturing and converting relationships, • Location of opt-in link on the home page and prominence ofand boosting brand loyalty continue to turn to email. And the channel has opt-in throughout websitegrown increasingly sophisticated and powerful: Automated, triggered, • Subscription options offered to registrantsbehavior-driven messages sent before and after the sale have transformed • Use of double opt-in and welcome emailsemail into a more efficient revenue-generating machine than ever. Retailers • Number of emails received during a 30-day period (Novemberhave recognized this, with 96 percent of top retailers offering email through December 2010)programs in 2010, the third straight year the figure has topped 95 percent. • Percent of retailers using personalized subject lines, offering sales or discount incentives, and using videoBut despite the widespread use of the channel and its unparalleled • Type of sale or discountability to engage customers, challenges remain. Chief among offered, and percent of emailsthem is online retailers’ hesitation to offer customers offering these discountsoptions at both opt-in and opt-out. With • Percent of companies linkingtwo-thirds of retailers not giving to social media sites, and use ofrecipients choices to voice their fan/friend versus social-sharing linkspreferences, relevance suffers. And • Percent of companies employing cartwith today’s sophisticated consumers abandonment campaignsmore empowered than ever, not taking • Number of emails in these cartinto account preferences means abandonment campaigns, and how incen-retailers are failing to connect with tives were used within these messagescustomers on their terms, losing • Unsubscribe links leading tovaluable revenue opportunities preference centersin the process. When the study period ended, Silverpop evalu-To help increase understanding of ated the Top 500 retailers against the additionalemail benchmarks, new trends, and companies that didn’t make the cut. This is thehow online retailers can better engage fourth year that Silverpop has participated incustomers, Silverpop again teamed with Internet Retailer to evaluate Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide evaluation,the email programs of the Top 500 retailers compared with other retailers so we were able to compare email market-who didn’t quite make the list. The study identified ing programs during the previous holidayareas of success as well seasons where applicable. www.silverpop.com © 2011 Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 2
  3. 3. STUDYLocation of Opt-in on the Home Page Subscription Options Offered to RegistrantsWith the vast majority of retailers now including an opt-in link on their home Offering options to subscribers regarding content, frequency and channels helpspages—more than 90 percent did so in 2008 and 2009—we turned our marketers increase message relevance and connect with customers when andattention in this year’s study to the location of the opt-in on this page. how they prefer. Despite these benefits, the majority of online retailers continue to neglect to offer choices to new subscribers, with only a third of Top 500 retail-Nearly half of retailers placed the opt-in link at the bottom of the page, ers doing so and 21 percent of remaining retailers employing this practice.while slightly more than one-third placed it at the top of the page. Of the companies that do offer subscribers options, the majority ask custom-With retailers looking to build a quality customer base in a competitive ers to provide shopping preferences, such as whether they’re interested inlandscape, list growth is an important consideration. Marketers would be women’s, men’s or children’s clothing and what sizes, styles or colors arewise to consider featuring this call to action more prominently, placing it most important to them. That’s a smart tactic, since this information can beabove the fold to increase the likelihood that it will be visible to site visi- used for segmentation and dynamic content that helps ensure you’re deliver-tors. Bottom line: You want to make it easy and obvious for website visitors ing messages that are engaging for each recipient.to find the sign-up page rather than forcing them to search for it. Despite the clear benefits, even among those retailers offering choices, less Location of Opt-in on Home Page Location of Opt-in on Home Page than a third asked for subscriber preferences regarding channel or frequency preferences. The steep difference between retailers offering shopping prefer- ences versus other preferences may be a result of marketers feeling their most significant challenge is targeting recipients with highly relevant content, as MarketingSherpa reported in its “2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Report.” But while increasing relevance is absolutely critical, savvy marketers should also 36% Bottom offer subscribers as much control over channels and frequency as applicable to 47% Middle ensure you’re communicating with them on their terms. Top For example, a customer might prefer SMS for time-sensitive deal alerts, email for shipping confirmations, and his or her Facebook feed for contests 18% and special promotions. Moving forward, as more digital communication channels and platforms spring up alongside email and consumers increas- ingly prefer different channels for different types of messages, this aspect of preference centers will become more important than ever.Location of Opt-in Throughout WebsiteWith many consumers arriving at retailers’ websites via search engines and Retailers Offering Options at Opt-in Retailers Offering Options at Opt-in 35thus landing at various pages within these sites, it’s a good idea to includeopt-in opportunities beyond the home page. The majority of retailers have 30 33% 33%embraced this notion—particularly top-performing companies—with more 25 28%than 90 percent of Top 500 retailers and upwards of 80 percent of remain- 23% 20ing retailers featuring the opt-in link prominently throughout the site. 21% Top 500 15 Remaining RetailersTo maximize list growth, we recommend promoting email programs on 14% 10every page on your site, using a name or term that makes it obvious whatvisitors are signing up for. And don’t stop there: Include an email opt-in 5form or link on your social network pages so you can attract a new group 0of engaged customers. 2008 2009 2010 Companies Featuring Opt-in Prominently Companies Featuring Opt-in Types of Preferences Offered by Companies Types Preferences Offered by Companies Prominently Throughout Website Throughout Website Who Gave Subscribers Options Who Gave Subscribers Options100 90 80 92% 84% Frequency Preferences 33% 70 60 50 Yes Channel Preferences 35% 40 No All Retailers 30 20 Shopping Preferences 56% 10 16% 0 8% Top 500 Remaining Retailers 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 www.silverpop.com © 2011 Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 3
  4. 4. STUDYUse of Double Opt-in relevancy and the use of techniques such as transactional messagingConcerns about privacy and SPAM certainly aren’t going away any time soon, and behavior-based triggers. Most retailers are finding great successso this year we decided to look into whether these concerns were leading with an increase in frequency during the holidays, often doubling theirretailers to consider double opt-in procedures. Double opt-in, a sign-up method email cadence. But the smartest retailers are combining an increase inthat requires recipients to confirm and then reaffirm that they want to receive frequency with the addition of relevant new message streams, greateremails from a sender, can be a powerful way to ensure high list quality, increase use of emails triggered off of behavior, and use of segmentation to betterresponsiveness and minimize future spam complaints and is actually required in target subscribers based on their activity levels.some countries. But the additional step required to confirm the subscription often Informing subscribers when they opt in of the frequency of yourproduces from 20 percent to 40 percent fewer new subscribers compared to a communications can make them much less likely to unsubscribe or reportsingle opt-in approach. your messages as spam because of dissatisfaction with frequency ofIt came as no surprise, then, that more than nine out of 10 retailers in the study contact. In addition, if recipients see your emails as relevant and valuable,used single opt-in. Interestingly, fewer top 500 retailers embraced double opt-in frequency becomes somewhat less of an issue. So instead of agonizing(6%) than the remaining companies (11%). over the optimum message cadence, consider asking, “How do we send more relevant emails, more often but with the same or fewer resources?”If you do use a double opt-in subscription process, be sure to explain it on theopt-in page so recipients will be expecting it, send the confirmation immediately, Of course, sending too few emails can be just as harmful as sendingmake sure to use a “From” name that recipients would expect to see so they too many, with silence setting the stage for inactivity just as much asdon’t mistake it for a message from an unfamiliar source, and keep the subject overmailing recipients can lead to unsubscribes. More and more top-line simple. performing retailers are recognizing that the first 30 days after opt-in are arguably the most critical in your new subscriber relationship, withCompanies Using Double Opt-in Companies Using Double Opt-in the number of companies sending zero emails decreasing for the fourth consecutive year among Top 500 retailers, from 35 percent in 2007 to 10 percent in 2010. There was, however, a slight uptick in this category among remaining retailers, with 24 percent going silent in 2010 compared 7% to 19 percent in 2009, suggesting these companies haven’t fully grasped the risk of subscribers forgetting they signed up for an email program if retailers wait too long to communicate with them. Top Top 500 CompaniesEmail Volumes inin First 30 Days 500 Companies’ Email Volumes First 30 Days Yes 22% 0 15% No 10% 27% 1 to 4 25% 22% 27% 93% Percentages reflect all 5 to 10 23% 32% retailers in the study 14% 2008 11 to 15 17% 22% 2009 7% 16 to 20 5% 2010 10% 2% 21 to 29 2% 6% 1%Emails Received During the First 30 Days >30 3% 7%Even as new marketing channels have emerged during the last few years, 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35email’s effectiveness and efficiency in engaging customers and drivingrevenue has prompted retailers to email with increased frequency. During Remaining Retailers’ Email Volumes in in 30 Days Remaining Retailers Email Volumes 30 Daysthe last four years, the percentage of Top 500 retailers sending 11 or more 31%emails (including welcome emails) within a 30-day period has more than 0 19% 24%doubled, from 20 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2010. The remaining 1 to 4 37% 41% 47%retailers have also upped frequency, though at a more modest pace, with 21% 5 to 10 24%10 percent sending 11 or more messages in ’07 and 15 percent doing 16% 2008so within a similar 30-day period in ’10. (Note: Since this the study is 11 to 15 7% 9% 8% 2009conducted during the holiday season, frequency is higher for retailers than 2% 16 to 20 4% 2010other times of the year.) 2% 1% 21 to 29 2%Is emailing much more frequently a good strategy? That’s a difficult 2%question to answer since the optimal cadence and frequency may >30 1% 1% 3%vary from recipient to recipient and can also be impacted by message 0 10 20 30 40 50 www.silverpop.com © 2011 Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 4
  5. 5. 16 to 20 4% 2010 2% 1% 21 to 29 2% 2% 1% STUDY >30 1% 3% 0 10 20 30 40 50Welcome Emails First-Name Subject Line Personalization In the average inbox, there are likely scores of promotional messages boasting similar subject lines such as “20% Off and Free Shipping.” Within this sea of sameness, subject lines that are personalized to the individual recipient along with message content can stand out. For the fourth consecutive year, an average of only one in 25 retailers used personalized subject lines—defined here as including the recipient’s name in the subject line. First-name personalization clearly remains a much-debated practice, with some companies swearing by the practice and others saying it reeks of spam. Regardless, consider testing it, using the approach when appropriate rather than as a default prefix in your subject lines. Companies Using First-Name Companies Using First-Name Subject Line Line Personalization Subject Personalization 4% Welcome Emails The best welcome programs engage new subscribers immediately, introduce them to your entire email program, and reduce unsubscribes, Yes spam complaints and inactivity down the road. And many retailers have No embraced welcome campaigns, with roughly two-thirds of online retailers in the 2011 study sending new subscribers a welcome email or series. Savvy retailers can use welcome messages to perform key functions such 96% as confirming subscription details, restating the email program’s value proposition, asking to be added to the address book, inviting customers back to fill out a profile, offering an incentive if appropriate, and providing contact information. Offering a Sale or Discount Incentive To maximize the effectiveness of a welcome program, follow up your first Offering sales or discount incentives in emails can make them more welcome message with a timed series of emails that show subscribers enticing to customers and, when used judiciously, can increase revenue. more of what you’re about. You might highlight new product lines, remind For the second consecutive year, nearly nine out of 10 Top 500 retailers them of your return policies or even provide a survey to learn more about offered sales or discounts at some point during the 30-day study period, their shopping habits. and 70 percent of the remaining retailers did so as well. Companies Sending Welcome Emails Companies Offering Sales or Discounts in Emails Companies Sending Welcome Emails 100 90 87% 89% 80 70 76% 68% 70% 60 32% 50 Top 500 Yes 53% 40 No Remaining 30 Retailers 68% 20 Percentages reflect all retailers in the study 10 0 2008 2009 2010 www.silverpop.com © 2011 Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 5
  6. 6. STUDYNot only are the vast majority of retailers using discounts as part of their Use of Videoemail programs, but they’re including these incentives in the major- Among the myriad communication channels, video stands out for its abilityity of their messages: 69 percent of the Top 500 retailers who included to humanize offers and tell a story uniquely. And in the right situation,discounts in their messaging did so in three-quarters or more of their it can yield increased conversion rates and order values. Yet perhapsemails—and 35 percent did so in every one of their messages. because of the challenges video presents, such as production costs and playability in various email clients, companies continue to be slow toWhen leaned on too heavily, a continuous reliance on “sale” promotions embrace this medium in email—though that may be gradually changing.can have a negative impact on margins and brand perception. Savvymarketers should also focus on value, using targeted, lifecycle and For this analysis, we defined “use of video” as including actual videobehavior-triggered messaging to strengthen relationships with brand-loyal within the email or use of animated gifs or static images that were hyper-customers. linked to a Web page where the video was hosted. While the percentage of retailers using video in at least one email remained low in 2010—only Percent of Emails from First 30 Days Percent of Emails First 30 Days 7 percent—this did represent a 50 percent uptick from the previous two Offering Discount Offering Discount years. Given the power of video to engage, it’s worth taking a careful look at this medium. 13% 0-24% 33% When considering whether to incorporate video into your email program, 4% ask yourself whether it would be relevant and add value to the customer 24-49% 2% experience. If so, test the use of video versus static images, keeping video Top 500 13% length less than 45 seconds, placing it above the fold and checking to see 50-74% Remaining Retailers 13% whether it will properly display in the email clients used by most of your customers. Finally, make sure to measure success metrics to see if your 69%75-100% 52% video is supporting your message objectives and engaging subscribers. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Companies Offering Video in at Least One Email Companies Offering Video in at Least One EmailTypes of Discounts OfferedWhen it comes to sales and discounts, different offers appeal to different 7%customers. Some will go for free shipping, others will be enticed by apercentage off, and still others will be intrigued by seeing the actual dollarssaved. According to this study, retailers who offer discounts frequently mixand match among these three categories. In fact, “all three” is the most Yespopular option, particularly among Top 500 retailers, with 45 percent of this Noelite group offering all three discounts in the same message, almost doublethe number of remaining retailers (23 percent) who did so. 93%Including all three discount options makes strategic sense since you’llhelp ensure you’ve appealed to the widest possible audience. To maximizeconversions, don’t make customers think too hard—do the math for them,calculating exactly the savings they’ll enjoy so they can get a full visualpicture of the offer. Linking to Social Media Sites Types of Discounts Offered Types Discounts Offered As the number of channels grows and customers move in and out of $ off only these channels throughout the day, many marketers are realizing that 4% taking an integrated multichannel approach can significantly increase yourFree shipping, $ off 7% chance of getting your message front and center. With nearly 600 million Free shipping only 8% Facebook users and 150 million Twitter users out there and most companies increasing social media budgets (according to MarketingSherpa’s “2011 $ off, % off 9% All Retailers Email Marketing Benchmark Report”) retailers are increasingly using email % off only 11% to promote social sharing and social channels.Free shipping, % off 20% As in 2009, promoting social sharing and channels in email continues to be All three 42% a key distinguishing factor between Top 500 retailers and remaining com- 0 10 20 30 40 50 panies in this evaluation, with Top 500 retailers more frequently recognizing www.silverpop.com © 2011 Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 6
  7. 7. STUDYthe importance of maintaining a strong connection between both popular Using Cart Abandonmentchannels. More than three quarters of Top 500 companies inserted social Shoppers abandon their carts for many reasons. Some get interrupted,links into emails, while barely half of the remaining retailers did so. some just aren’t ready to buy yet, and others use the cart as a wish list.Retailers are also embracing the trend of including a “Like” or “Follow” link Checkout-reminder emails can bring some of those shoppers back, givingwithin email messages to drive more traffic to their social network pages retailers a competitive advantage and boosting the bottom line. Yet only 17and encourage related participation. More than 80 percent of retailers that percent of Top 500 retailers are sending cart recovery emails—and thatinclude social links in emails include a “Follow”-type invitation. percentage is nearly three times the rate of the remaining retailers. To maximize the effectiveness of cart abandonment emails, retailersThey may, however, be overlooking another important opportunity to spread should adopt a service tone. Offer to complete the transaction in othertheir message socially. By comparison, about three in 10 retailers who in- channels, such as through live chat or a call center, and ask if the shopperclude social call-outs in emails also included social-sharing links encourag- had a problem at checkout. And strike while the iron is hot: Generally,ing recipients to share content. While social-sharing links aren’t appropriate sending your first message within an hour or two of abandonment is mostfor all communications, they can increase message reach by an average of effective. According to research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute24 percent, according to Silverpop’s benchmark study, “Emails Gone Viral: of Technology, 90 percent of ecommerce leads go cold within one hour.Measuring ‘Share-to-Social’ Performance.” Companies Sending Cart AbandonmentEmails Companies Sending Cart Abandonment EmailsOnce retailers adopt this practice, they should make the most of social- 100sharing initiatives by testing offers, copy and location to find out which are 90 94%most “shareworthy.” Long newsletters are likely to be shared less, while 80 83%other content practically begs to be shared—such as one-time-only offers, 70store opening invitations or new product announcements. 60 50 Yes Companies Including Social Links in in Emails Companies Including Social Links Emails 40 No90 3080 2070 78% 10 17% 0 6%60 Top 500 Remaining Retailers50 60% Top 500 54%40 Remaining Retailers Number of Emails in Cart Abandonment Campaigns 43%30 Of the retailers who sent cart recovery messages, roughly three-quarters sent20 one email, while the other 25 percent delivered a multimessage campaign.10 Optimal timing and frequency will vary based on the site and time sensitivity 0 of the transaction, but retailers looking to boost results should consider a 2009 2010 multistage series, such as a three-part campaign in which the first reminder is sent within an hour of abandonment, the second approximately 24 hours after abandonment, and the third about a week later. Types of of Social Links Includedin Emails Types Social Links Included in Emails To help determine what cadence works best for your company, test a few different timing and frequency options and adjust accordingly. 11% Number of Emails in Cart Abandonment Number of Emails 18% in Cart Abandonment Campaigns Campaigns Social Sharing Only 4% Like/Follow Only Both 20% 71% 1 Email Percentages reflect all retailers in the study 2 Emails 3 Emails 76% Percentages reflect all retailers in the study www.silverpop.com © 2011 Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 7
  8. 8. STUDY Preference Centers for Unsubscribers Preference Centers for UnsubscribersUse of Incentives in Cart Recovery EmailsRetailers are nearly split down the middle when it comes to offering incen-tives in cart abandonment emails, and with good reason: Doing so canpotentially boost revenue but is also often unnecessary, especially in theinitial reminder email.Making promotions less predictable can reduce this risk. For example, youcould offer a percentage off—the most popular incentive among retailers inthis study—only for first-time shoppers or visitors who abandon their shop-ping carts when the cart value exceeds a predetermined dollar amount.Also, keep in mind that it might only take a gentle reminder (and not anincentive) to complete the sale. To maximize revenue, an emerging bestpractice approach is to not offer an incentive in the first of a multipartseries, but then offer a modest incentive in the second email and your Offered Preferences at Opt-out Offered Preferences at Opt-out 45most aggressive offer in the final email. Forty-five percent of the retailers 40who employed multimessage campaigns followed this practice, waiting 40% 35until the second email to offer an incentive. 30 34% 31% Companies Offering Incentives in Companies Offering Incentives 25 Top 500 Cartin Cart Recovery Emails Recovery Emails 20 23% 24% 22% Remaining Retailers 15 10 5 0 2008 2009 2010 Yes 49% 51% Conclusion/Lessons Learned No With communication channels shifting and email volumes continuing to increase, buyers have less patience than ever for irrelevant messages. Percentages reflect all Because email is timely, convenient and permission-based, it has become retailers in the study many consumers’ preferred channel for communications with companies and brands. And for retailers, its proven ability to efficiently drive revenue is obviously very appealing. But email’s viability as a successful commer-Preference Centers for Unsubscribers cial channel rests on how responsibly marketers use it.Not everyone who clicks the unsubscribe link in an email actually wants to Savvy retailers understand that relevance in today’s digital marketplace isend the relationship with your company. But if you don’t give them options, more about delivering the “right message at the right time” than simplyor if you make the ones you have hard to find, you will certainly lose them. broadcasting generic messages and crossing your fingers. To cut throughYet despite the fact that directing those who wish to unsubscribe to a the noise, you must listen, learn and understand your subscribers’ prefer-combination preference page/unsubscribe page can help lessen list churn, ences and behavior and focus content on their needs rather than yours.less than one-third of retailers are doing so—and the number embracing As such, marketers will need to use every tool at their disposal to under-this best practice remained flat from 2009 to 2010. Top 500 retailers are stand and listen to consumers and provide focused content and well-timedstill much more likely to use a preference page at opt-out than other com- delivery. Make it easy for subscribers to sign up for your email program withpanies, though, with a double-digit percentage-point difference separating a prominent opt-in link, and offer them choices throughout the relationshipthe two groups for the third straight year. regarding how you’ll communicate with them. Use a welcome series toFor retailers using this technique, it’s important not to make the unsub- engage them from the start, send relevant content triggered by theirscribe language or process too confusing or complicated—you want to behaviors, preferences and demographics, and integrate email and socialmake it quick and easy for those who really do want to leave your list. But media so they complement one another and work toward your revenue goals.do make it clear that they can choose to do something besides opt out. By approaching each person in an email program as someone to getYour subscribers’ needs and interests change over time, and if you don’t to know rather than a bull’s-eye being aimed for, retailers can create agive them a chance to revise their current preferences, you could lose the deeper level of engagement, leading to bigger sales, higher increased ROIability to communicate with them forever. and loyal customers. www.silverpop.com © 2011 Copyright Silverpop. All rights reserved. The Silverpop logo is a registered trademark of Silverpop Systems Inc. 8