Money & Business

Content Counts When It Comes to Email, New Study Shows

By / Jun 18, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A couple of recent surveys on email marketing reveal some important stats and trends, including the importance of quality email content.

Despite the popularity of social media, email is still going strong as a marketing tool.

Almost three-quarters of marketers reported email marketing is core to their business, and roughly the same amount believe email either does or will produce a return on investment in the future, according to the “2015 State of Marketing Report” from Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

“Email marketing is as effective of a marketing tactic as ever, despite rumors that it will one day meet its end as social and mobile continue to rise in popularity,” Jenna Hanington, ‎marketing content specialist at Pardot, a Salesforce company, wrote in a blog post about the study. “In fact, not only is email effective—it’s significantly impacting ROI for businesses that are using it regularly.”

Given their value, what makes marketing emails effective?

The same study found that the most marketers ranked content and design as the most critical aspect of email marketing, followed by campaign management and contact management.
This finding is similar to one in the recently released “2015 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report” from email marketing platform Informz.

“The data pointed to a handful of key themes, but the one that stood out the most is that associations should focus on sending relevant content instead of focusing on the total number of emails they’re sending,” Alex Mastrianni, senior marketing specialist at Informz, wrote in a blog post.

One way to create quality email content is to focus on voice. Rather than leading with an overly institutional voice, try putting an individual out in front of your email marketing, as Ernie Smith suggested last year.

Another tip—this one from content marketing pro and chief content officer of MarketingProfs, Ann Handley: Think about content from the audience’s point of view, and “find interesting ways to say boring stuff,” she said at ASAE’s 2015 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference earlier this month.

Overall, among the more than 1,000 large and mid-sized associations surveyed by Informz, email volume increased by more than 12 percent between 2013 and 2014. Open rates also increased last year by 4.25 percent from 2013 (from 34.04 percent to 35.49 percent), while click rates went down.

In the United States, open rates averaged about 34 percent, and, on average, associations reported click rates of about 15 percent.

Check out some more stats from the study to see how your email marketing efforts stack up:

What Has Changed (Or Not)

  • While it had at one time surpassed desktop usage, mobile usage fell slightly behind desktop as the most frequently used email client type this year.
  • Timing, in terms of day of the week, continues to have little influence on open and click rates, which is consistent with earlier findings. Meanwhile, emails sent at night had the highest open rates, while emails sent out midday had the highest click rates.
  • Subject lines should still be short and to the point. Emails with subject lines containing 40 characters or less had the highest open rates. If you can cut your subject lines down even more to nine characters or less, you might see open rates over 50 percent. These findings echo the results of a HubSpot and Litmus report last year that found the longer an email’s subject line and body length, the lower the clickthrough rate.

What email marketing tips do you have? Please share in the comments.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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