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Elizabeth Glagowski | October 24, 2006

Solving the Email Mystery


Email is entering into a renaissance as a business tool, but with new opportunities bring new challenges. It's not all about deliverability and the volume of the email list anymore. Creative and qualitative issues now run the show. Bill Nussey, Silverpop CEO, explained that click rates and retention success come down to a creative message presented in a way customers want to receive it.

Silverpop released the results of a new email study at last week's DMA show, entitled, "Email Creative That Works: An Evaluation of Opens and Click Rates Associated With Various Creative Elements." The purpose of the study was to understand how customers read emails, and why. Data from 430 companies was compiled and analyzed.

The average open rate on an email campaign was 27 percent, and emails that included a brand or company name in the subject line did much better than those without. But the crux of the report is that creative elements are now driving open rates, not just the fact that the messages can get through spam filters. "Marketing in essence is human communication," Nussey said. "The mechanics in B2C message don't drive open rates. It's the quality of the offer and the creative that really matters."

One surprise is that B2B and B2C emails are read differently. B2C customers prefer image-rich messages, while B2B subscribers want more text.

Nussey says that email campaigns are not just competing with competitors sending out similar content, but with every company sending an email campaign. "Consumers want 15-18 relationships online, no matter what the companies are," he said. "The bar to win is much steeper." Targeting, personalization and pizzazz will help companies break away from the pack.

So is there one surefire way to get your emails read and responded to? Nussey says no, but testing campaigns before sending them out and measuring many different elements are great places to start. "We're huge advocates of testing," he said. "I don't think you can overemphasize testing enough." What do you think? How do you or your customers prefer to read email, and are you using it as a successful business tool?


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