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The Science of Email Marketing webinar takeaways

Yesterday Dan Zarrella, a social media scientist of Hubspot, presented the webinar called ‘The Science of Email Marketing‘. He normally digs into social media data, but this time he got his hands on quite some nice email marketing data: the data consists of results of no less than 9,536,510,424 emails sent with the Mailchimp email platform (read about their Email Genome Project here).

Dan had with a specific focus group on email usage topics: one of the results of a survey done by that focus group is that 12% separates their work and personal inboxes, but 88% don’t: businesses = consumers seems to be the result of this, whereas previously marketing done for B2B was seen as very different from marketing done for B2C.

Here’s the takeaways from the webinar which contained info on both the stats and an interview

Timing

– Email is like homework: people get into a habit, a set of rituals. Try to find that set of rituals in
your subscriber group and stick to their rituals: email results will improve.
– Weekends are best to get highest clickthroughs (9% compared to Monday to Friday 4% ~ 5%).
– Highest rate of unsubscribes happen on Monday and Tuesday, lowest happens on Thursday.

Dan notes that you as a sender should not pile your email on subscriber’s ‘homework’: send on times and days they have the least email pressure. An example is to try to send email on weekends when people have more time available, less of the daily work hassle.

– When do users read email: morning highest rate, then afternoon, evening and night the lowest.
– The effect of time-of-day on unsubscribe rates: 6AM ~ 8AM highest, 4PM ~ 6PM lowest, but again a rise at 11PM.
– The effect of time-of-day of sending on click through rate: 6AM ~ 8AM highest CTR, and 3PM ~
5PM lowest CTR.

Content

– most users report reading email on mobile, no less than 80%. Takeaway: optimize email for mobile (Remy: generally, the mobile opens account for about 13% in email channel, so 80% is on the high side)
– effect of number of links on CTR: highest around 17 links and 9 links. 4 links has lowest CTR. More links = more CTR
– effect of number of links on unsub rate: least links, highest unsubs. More links, less unsubs. Takeaway: use lots of links in your emails.

Archiving

– GMail will outpace outlook and other email clients soon.
– inbox is used as archive by people, will be searched for info. Takeaway: use reference
information in your emails. Dates, events, downloadable content, etc.
– Filtering is mostly done on subject lines
– most clicked subject line words: posts, jobs, survey, week’s, e-newsletter. Worst clicked: latest,
updates, headlines, news. Takeaway: serialize and label your email subject lines

– most abuse reported subject line words: confirm, features, upgrade, magic, raffle, rewards, requested, 10%
– least abuse reported subject line: offer, savings, discount, coupon

What do I get? (what’s in it for me, WIIFM)

– focus group survey results: exclusivity, an email message has to deliver extras, value: make subscribers feel special. Takeaway: give your subscribers special access, exclusive offers.

Sending

– using sender name that audience recognizes is best. Takeaway: send email from someone they’ve heard of
– effect of sending frequency on CTR: best freq: 1, 9, 21 ~ 27 per month (5 ~ 6%). Worst freq = 12, 19,20 per month.
– Effect of sending frequency on unsubscribe rate: worst: 1 ~2 per month. Lowest: 12, 21 ~30 per
month. Takeaway: don’t be afraid to send too much email

Expectations

-when email is expected, it is best valued

– effect of subscriber recency on unsubscribe rate: unsubscribes are highest when people have just subscribed (3 days or less)
– effect on subscriber recency on clickthrough: most recent members will do best clicks Takeaway: your newest subscribers are best)

Focus group survey question: how much of your email do you read?Answers: most of it – 50%, all of it 20%, about half 25%, very little 4%

Multiple inboxes

-Do you use separate junk inbox? Answers: No 42% yes 58% takeaway: make them want to get your emails

– Focus group survey question:  Do you generally believe unsub links will work? 28% no, 72% yes
-How often do you forward commercial emails? almost never = biggest group of respondents
– how often do you tweet about commercial emails? almost never = biggest group of respondents

takeaway: ask people to follow you, not share your emails (Remy: I’m not so sure about this: when you provide value in the sharing of your content, people will do it)

Metrics

If it don’t make dollars it don’t make sense: where are customers coming from? What’s making the actual money?
takeaway: link to pages that make money and are on a closed loop marketing system.

Some important things to note with the above takeaways, percentages and metrics are the following:

– most of Mailchimp’s user base are small companies, 70% of their users are 1-10 employees (the nearly 10 billion emails were sent by their 600,000 users)
– most of Mailchimp’s user base is located in the USA: results may vary per region
– the results posted above are, even though the data group is large, specific for this type of users and subscribers. As said with mobile engagement, your own results can be quite different.

Update 4PM CET:

The slides and webinar recording are now available here.

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