What’s the truth about e-blasts? Are they effective? Are they engaging? Or are they a giant snooze fest? Well, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has just released a new study that may contain the answer.
The study is based on the self-reported inboxes of 1,000 respondents. What it shows is interesting. This survey goes beyond the fundamental measures of whether people open it or not. It reveals some fascinating things about delayed action and indirect action––something that few marketers consider.
Most e-mail openings happen quickly, within 24 hours of the blast. Consequently, campaigns are often evaluated based on the first two days of responses. However, 55 percent of the people in this study disclosed that they often save an e-mail in their inbox to refer to at a later date. This sort of delayed response usually means a higher quality of customer and a higher level of conversion. Saved e-mails may also mean that the subject lines get repeat viewings, which translates to more frequent brand impressions. All of which suggests that e-mail campaigns should be measured over a longer period of time to truly judge their efficiency. It also implies that links should be kept alive longer for this delayed consumer.
The Nudge Effect
Another interesting finding in this DMA study is the indirect action that is many times taken because of an e-mail campaign. For instance, 27 percent of those surveyed indicated that they may visit the store of the retailer who has blasted them having never clicked the e-mail. The same thing is true about visits to the brand site (22 percent). This subliminal nudge to purchase from an unopened e-mail is a phenomenon that is rarely considered. It could be that a marketer’s e-blast is performing more than they know.
The other indirect impact of an e-blast is not so positive. 14 percent said that a recently blasted e-mail sometimes causes them to head to one of those comparison shopping engines, compare prices and ultimately buy from the e-blaster’s competitor.
Given the various ways an e-blast might impact their consumer, marketers need to rethink these testing paradigms. For example, consider conducting hold-out tests, where a group of subscribers receive no e-blast. Then compare customer activity, response and sales patterns between the mailed and non-mailed subscribers. See if it is the blast or simply brand loyalty that is creating the sales uptick.
Ultimately, e-mail marketing is a very effective tool for retailers. It concentrates on more than transactions; it builds relationships between the brand and the subscriber. However, this study suggests we may be underestimating the extent to which an e-blast affects behavior.
We are a Dallas Branding Agency specializing in e-mail marketing.