More than half of all consumers will open product-oriented emails that include a clear 'call to action' (CTA), according to a survey by email delivery and analytics provider SparkPost. The study also found that consumers are actually demanding more from brands when it comes to personalised marketing and relevance. This article is copyright 2020 The Best Customer Guide.

The survey examined how retail consumers feel about marketing communications from their favorite retail brands - for example, what marketing activity promotes consumer engagement and digital purchases, and what brands are currently doing that actually drive consumers away.

The survey analyzed data from 1,124 consumer research responses and measured it against SparkPost's 1.5 million consumer recipient email activity data and performance panel. The survey results highlight consumer preferences as they compare to their actual behavior, and surfaces both missed retail marketing opportunities, and recommendations for tactics to boost engagement, customer satisfaction, and stronger brand-and-customer relationships.

Three key trends surfaced, with data supporting the overall need for brands to take regular stock of their brand communications and measure resonance and reaction, illustrating the importance of executing campaigns aligned with consumer expectations.

Trend 1: Content is Important but Context Rules
It's clear that consumers may not always know what they want, but they usually know what they don't want. The importance of brands paying attention to the latter is on the rise as consumers are only interested in receiving highly relevant and timely content that is contextualized by their interests. A spray-and-pray approach to email is a significant disservice to both brand and customer. For example:

  • Over half (53%) of survey respondents report they "always" or "usually" open emails from brands when it includes information about a product
  • Over 92% of respondents have at some point unsubscribed from a brand's email, most often because "Emails come too often" (60% of respondents agree), followed closely by simply having lost interest in the brand" (54%), and "irrelevant content" (50%)
  • A deal or discount is the top email subject line driver of opened email (58%)
  • Personalized communication is highly successful, but up-and-coming tactics aren't moving the needle for brands
    only 12% of consumers report they care to see their name or an emoji (7%) in email subject lines.

Trend 2: Retailers Are Missing Post-Purchase Opportunities
Retailers need to equally prioritize energy spent on both customer acquisition and post-purchase engagement. Surveys, product/service reviews, product tips/tricks, and recommendations for the next purchase are among the most crucial for keeping consumers engaged long-term.

Post-purchase, 60% of respondents use general online research to understand a product, compared to 27% using specific information, instructions and/or tutorials on the company's website. What pales in comparison is the 19% of respondents that look to post-purchase email as a direct source for such information

Email is a great tool for brands to use for re-engagement that then drives future revenue. Sixty-four percent of consumers want information featuring special deals/discounts on future purchases, and they also like product recommendations to be shared via email as well 23% need information on upcoming changes to products and services 20% want follow-up with next-purchase suggestions

Trend 3: Email may influence purchases, but not drive them.
However, research shows this is actually quite far from the truth. The survey data suggests consumers used email communications as a research tool more than a purchasing channel, but retailers report the opposite, according to a January 2020 Transactional Email Benchmark Report by SparkPost. Consumers are buying directly through the email channel more often than they think. In fact:

  • Only 18% of consumers say they are pushed to click 'buy' through an email communication, contradictory to 50% of brand marketers that report email is 'very important' in driving conversion; 70% note email is very important to driving engagement.
  • 37% of consumers rely more on social media and review sites for information to drive purchases compared to just 28% that look primarily for information on corporate websites.

"It's clear the Coronavirus has brands working with new, unforeseen economic constraints which have really impacted retailers. Marketing budgets and teams have been slashed, pressuring brands to be laser focused on consumer needs and high-performing channels," said Hal Muchnick, Chief Commercial Officer at SparkPost. "Being able to effectively communicate and engage via a reliably strong channel like email is critical to success for brands moving forward."