In August, several members of the LashBack team attended the Mailcon and Affiliate Summit East conferences in New York. The conferences provide a great opportunity for our team to meet with clients and contacts, and stay on top of what is going on in the world of digital marketing. It was a busy few days with lots of productive meetings and conversations.
As in previous years, LashBack CEO Peter Wilson gave a presentation at Mailcon, diving into the deep reservoir of LashBack data to find unique and actionable insights for the audience. This year’s presentation, “A Deeper Look at the Consumer Experience” contained an overview of some of the trends in email quality and delivery, with an emphasis on how different emailing practices are viewed by consumers. Building upon previous Mailcon presentations, some common themes around quality and prioritizing the consumer experience were explored with detailed examples. As the data continues to show us, the influence of greater transparency driven by technology and consumer expectation are sure to have an effect on the business practices of effective marketers.
A Deeper Look at the Consumer Experience
Peter Wilson - CEO, LashBack
Mailcon, New York
All of the observations in this presentation are based on data received and analyzed by LashBack. Presentations are
intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent professional judgment. The observations may
be influenced by multiple factors including the date, source, and size of the data set and your results or experience may
be meaningfully different. We do not make any representations or offer any warranties about the completeness,
reliability and accuracy of this information. The information contained herein may be subject to copyright protection;
we believe that LashBack’s use of information and images herein constitutes fair use, but any use of this content,
including work created by LashBack, may require the express written permission of the copyright holder. We are
strong advocates for quality marketing and do not advocate the use of any technique or practice in a vacuum or that is
counter to established best practices. Any action you take upon the information presented is strictly at your own risk.
• High-level overview of the trends in email quality and delivery
• What are the key dynamics around the consumer experience in email
• Businesses resist change and markets can appear to change
slowly, but consumers and technology are driving a higher
expectation for transparency
• Is there a disconnect between what consumers want in B2C
email and how they are typically marketed to?
• Clear as mud. The consumer experience ranges from good to
ugly and the consumer has almost no ability to anticipate or
control which will occur.
o Consumers want and expect transparency. A lack of
transparency enables undesirable sending.
o We’ll show various examples of different sending practices
• We believe business innovation and technology will solve the
issues -- faster and more effectively than new regulation
• As more transparency inevitably comes, we believe the market
will continue to thrive, but the rules for sending will evolve
While not the focus
should be noted
that a lack of
harms senders and,
in fact, drives some
of the undesirable
without clear and
consistent rules for
which is often
higher volume and
50,000 foot view on email volume, quality and delivery
Roughly 280 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2018
• Up 4.5% over 2017
• Expected to increase at a similar rate annually over the next 5 years
Data from multiple sources including Statista.com
There are approximately (in 2018):
• 1.5 billion active Gmail users worldwide
• 400 million Outlook users
• 228 million Yahoo users
Gmail has been growing by 20%+ per year while the other two have been fairly flat
Large and growing market increasingly dominated by Google/Gmail
Overall quality fairly consistent, but Gmail inboxing has declined
LashBack GQI and inboxing considers millions of B2C email messages. Quality is assessed on a 1 (poor) to 100
(best) scale. Messages are evaluated based on criteria including:
• Deceptive subject line
• Blacklisting (IP and/or domain)
• Authentication failure
• Presence of vulgarity
• Presence of a plain text unsubscribe
• Forged send date
• Presence of a list unsubscribe header
Gmail inboxing decrease generally follows decline in Gmail quality
Overall market GQI
Email will remain a strong and effective channel, but it is evolving
We have long been advocates for transparency and best practices in marketing
We believe that the market is evolving in the direction of greater consumer control of their
data, but that technology and market opportunities - more than laws and regulation – are
going to drive dramatic change
This has been slow to happen because the largest and most innovative firms have been
more focused on gathering and using consumer data, but eventually markets change, and it
can happen quickly
“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
Ernest Hemmingway, The Sun Also Rises
Is there a disconnect between what the consumer wants and what they receive (in B2C
If there is, what does it look like, why does it exist, and how is it going to change?
“A disruptive innovation is… a product [or] service… that… is unattractive to the established
leaders in an industry.”
“The reason why it is so difficult for existing firms to capitalize on disruptive innovations is
that their processes and their business model that make them good at the existing business
actually make them bad at competing for the disruption.”
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you
did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
Blockbuster succeeded for more than 25 years, generated billions of dollars in revenue, and,
at its peak, employed more than 84,000 people.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is
the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Consumers want quick access to information that improves their experience
Information wanted Solution
Find rides Uber
Find renters Airbnb
Find food GrubHub
Find tables OpenTable
Find contractors HomeAdvisor
Find dates Match.com
Find gas prices GasBuddy
Information wanted Solution
Find hotel prices Trivago
Find insurance prices EverQuote
Find house prices Zillow
Find loans LendingTree
Find work space WeWork
Avoid traffic Waze
Find everything else Amazon
Transparent information and ratings are everywhere.
For a view of what “too much” looks like,
I recommend watching Black Mirror’s “Nosedive” episode
What does the consumer want in (B2C) email?
The consumer wants timely and valuable offers in a reasonable volume
• Timely and relevant
• Reasonable volume
• Ability to stop the marketing
• True information about who is sending the message
• The ability to engage with a site (provide information) based on a clear understanding
of what to expect
Some perspective on desired email frequency
According to a recent study by Return Path on email send frequency:
“In simple terms, we found that engaged, Primary accounts will tolerate up to about five emails per
week from a given sender. Beyond that, the ensuing complaints increase dramatically, and read rates
Using the RP data, one reader calculated the
optimal send frequency at 6.2 emails per
What does the consumer get? A hard to predict experience
A LashBack study of several thousand email sign-ups indicates:
• The average signup resulted in 100 messages in the first 30 days and 500 messages in the
first 90 days
o About 3 messages per day during the first 30 days, then 7 messages per day
• A pretty wide disparity in experience, ranging from 1 message in 90 days to more than
o Some sites sent less than 10 messages, but these are likely looking for confirmation
• Typically large brands, like Gap.com and Apartments.com, sent relatively few messages
and used identifiable domains while “lightly-branded” sites, like DLZOffers.com and
BestAutoLoanz.com, sent large volumes using many domains
o Those that sent 50-100 message over 90 days include large brands (like
OfficeDepot.com, Pier1.com, QVC.com, JCPenney.com, Athleta.com,
UrbanOutfitters.com and Forever21.com), as well as some lesser-known brands
(PaidSurveyDepot.com, NutritionAndHealing.com and
A big part of the problem is not being able to anticipate the experience. Some large
brands send heavier than expected, and many lesser-known brands send very reasonably
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
• Modestly, in sign-up vertical
• 1-2 messages a day in finance
• Heavy volume, weighted toward sign-up vertical
• 10+ messages a day, mostly in finance
• Massive volume, independent of sign-up vertical
• 20-100’s of messages a day in weight loss,
dating, jobs, etc.
There do not appear to be any “clear winners” with
regard to inboxing; the most impactful seems to be
There are some clear variances in strategy
• Sending patterns
• Changes in sending at 30/60/90 (sometimes
data sales and sometimes internal properties)
• Varied use of sending domains
• Volume sent by major brands vs. lightly branded
• Varying from sign-up vertical
• Major brands versus lightly branded
• Impact on delivery
A few examples of heavy sending
Sends 20-70 messages a day until about day 80
146 messages on day 8
About 100 messages per day after day 57
808 messages on day 58
Almost 3,000 messages from 100’s of domains
Examples of sending patterns
Importantly, the collected data tells only part of the story. Additional sign-ups at the same site,
for example, may have different results
1. Heavy initial sending
2. Progressively ramp sending (30-60-90)
3. Test then isolated blast
4. Delayed first message
5. 20-60-0 pattern
High initial volume, then no sending (confirmation/response needed)
Progressively heavier email
Delayed first message
Messaging in a 20-60-0 pattern
A few examples of different sending domain use/strategies
Sending domain Seen in # of sign-ups Average first day seen
MoneyMorning.com 1 2
DarwinInvestingNetwork-mail.com 1 2
NICInvestors.com 17 68
InvestorAlliance.co 4 41
PriceActionEA.net 4 38
A few examples of different sending domain use/strategies (continued)
• More/increasing domains
• Poor/declining delivery
Same vertical mail
• Fewer/steady domains domains
• Better delivery
A few examples of different sending domain use/strategies (continued)
Subsequent delivery based on sign-up vertical
We signed up to receive email at a
handful of finance-focused lead gen
Interestingly, within the sample,
the sites tended to send either
100% finance offers or 100%
general interest (non-finance)
Inboxing generally declined for
both approaches over the
subsequent three months.
Both sent a high volume of
messages, but the sites that
stuck to the original vertical sent
somewhat less and got better
How does sticking to the sign-up vertical impact delivery?
Sticking to the sign-up vertical
appears to improve delivery
We thought it would be interesting to compare the email that results from a sign-up at a typical, well-
known, highly-branded site to that of a lightly-branded site. We used Gap.com and DLZOffers.com.
The results are pretty dramatically different in terms of approach, results and consumer experience.
Case study: Gap vs. DLZ Offers
Dramatically different approach, results, and experience
CareerBuilder is an interesting case.
It is a large, highly-branded site, with $700
million or so in revenue, a global presence,
PE backing, etc.
You would expect: Consistent email from
CareerBuilder about tips and job
opportunities with solid/consistent inboxing.
You would be wrong.
Case study: CareerBuilder
AsdassdasdThe content, sender and delivery are likely not what you would expect
Primarily HTML msgs
Text only, personalized
job offers with lots of
More of the text job
offers with 0% inbox;
msg with 100% inbox
Unique job messages with distinct
patterns. For example:
Best Regards, Hilda Yates.
Kind Regards, Rosalie Underwood.
Best Regards, Angie Atkins.
Sincerely, Faye Mills.
Sincerely, Patrice Simon.
Sincererly, Anita Kemp.
Kind Regards, Brenda Gardner.
Thank you in advance, Helene Sparks.
Sincerely, Lois Hancock.
Best Regards, Elvira Frank.
Kind Regards, Nettie Harrington.
Best Regards, Helen Warren.
Sincerely, Mattie Oneal.
Thank you in advance, Jessie Summers.
Thank you in advance, Sharon Jenkins.
Thank you in advance, Marcella Knight.
Best Regards, Denise Holt.
Fundamental market dynamics that contribute to poor consumer experience
1. Consumers want quick, easy and cheap access to deals, information, and services, but they
provide limited information and can be quick to change their minds, forget and complain
2. Consumers are being inundated by near constant marketing messages (and data collection)
across an expanding array of channels
3. Email is ubiquitous and effective
4. The cost to acquire and send a message is small
5. It is a market with low transparency, some subjectivity, and individual messages typically
carry little harm (heavy sending can be brutal)
6. ISPs use undisclosed and changing rules to determine what messages to deliver
The result is that interests are often out of alignment and many senders take a short-term
view of the opportunity
• Solving the issues with additional regulation seems to be a challenging and imperfect approach
• Similarly, unsubscribing is fairly ineffective
Improving the consumer experience
• Overall, the market has been moving toward increased customization and targeting
• It heightens the consumer experience and effectiveness of messages, but it often
depends on significant access to consumer data
• And clearly everyone is not in the “highly-targeted” camp
• We believe that the next major change in the industry is going to come from increased
transparency – what if the consumer can be forewarned (before submitting any personal
data) about the typical email result/experience and can make decisions based on this
• Can it be done? Yes
• What would be the impact?
• Consumers will be less likely to provide information at a site that is going to generate a
high volume of email, especially unrelated to the sign-up
• Consumers and senders would have to be better aligned; senders will generally have to
reduce their sending
• It remains to be seen how pricing and ROI would ultimately be impacted
• Volume would decrease and costs would likely increase, but revenue per message
would also likely increase
• While we believe in the future of email, over the longer-term, markets tend to “revert
to the mean” and email has had a return that was multiples greater than every other
marketing channel. We should not be surprised returns in the 3800% range decline
Best practices will continue to pay dividends
As we suggested in January –
• Commit to quality
• The market is changing. There will be more transparency and consumer control.
• A good partner is one that will last and one that does the right things.
• Strong brands want strong, consistent partners
• Skip the tricks
• Prioritize the consumer experience
• Build a strong business
• Invest in intelligence
January 2019 34
A stronger, more consistent market
The market is changing and the consumer experience is becoming more visible and important
For many, it requires an adjustment in their approach - at a minimum - blending in (possibly
subjective) medium-to-long-term considerations. Markets inevitably evolve away from a
focus on immediate cash maximization; and that is happening in email.
On the plus side –
• this shift in perspective is core to creating business value
• advertisers are clamoring for partners with this new/revised/quality approach
• it helps to create a stronger, more consistent market
+ good intelligence
+ smart mailing
= maximize longer-term revenue
+ smart mailing
= maximize immediate revenue
Questions and contact information
I appreciate your time and welcome any questions.
Chief Executive Officer
1017 Olive Street, 4th Floor
St. Louis, MO 63101
Website/request a demo: www.lashback.com
Contact sales team: firstname.lastname@example.org
LashBack video overview: https://youtu.be/1PGMUFzOVdI
Prior Mailcon presentations (viewed ~4,000 times):
• Jan 2018: www.slideshare.net/LashBackSTL/lashback-presentation-at-mailcon-2018
• Jul 2018: www.slideshare.net/LashBackSTL/lashback-presentation-at-mailcon-july-2018
• Jan 2019: www.slideshare.net/LashBackSTL/lashback-presentation-at-mailcon-january-2019