customer experience, Why Transactional, Promotional Emails Rock for Marketers

Numbers from Silverpop's survey on email marketing confirm what many vendors have touted -- automated messages triggered by behaviors work —and the success of manual, blind ones are fading.

The email service provider, who many say coined the phrase "behavioral marketing," released findings this month from its 2014 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Report that included emails sent by nearly 3,000 brands across 40 countries throughout 2013.

One of the big lessons from the results for marketers?

"Marketers really need to capitalize on transactional emails," Loren McDonald, Silverpop’s VP of industry relations, told CMSWire. "Don’t overload your customers with promotional offers, but try suggesting related products or encourage reviews within transactional emails. This allows marketers to gain better insight on their customers while also creating the opportunity for upsells."

What the Numbers Say

Silverpop's survey revealed automated (personalized, nurtured, etc.) messages achieved an open rate nearly 15 percent higher and a click-through rate nearly 79 percent higher than their manual counterparts.

Other findings included:

  • Transactional messages (emails triggered automatically by behaviors like purchases or account activity) sent by companies with results in the top-quartile have open rates four times higher than median open rates for non-transactional messages
  • Transactional messages also achieved a median click-through rate of 4.2 percent and click-to-open rate of 15.1 percent, compared to non-transactional messages at 1.5 and 9.9 percent, respectively
  • The overall median hard-bounce rate was just under 0.04 percent, indicating email marketers made list hygiene a priority in 2013
  • Top quartile performers’ automated messages achieved click-through rates nearly 60 percent higher than manual sends and open rates more than double the median and five to 22 times higher than bottom-quartile performers

Surprises, Anyone? 

McDonald told us he was surprised by numbers from the list churn metrics. The overall median hard-bounce rate of just under 0.04 percent, he said, is a 95 percent decline from last year

"While we typically don’t compare year-to-year results in this study, the stats were different enough this year to warrant a response," he said. "This is most likely indicative of marketers really paying attention to list hygiene: ensuring their messages are falling into the hands of people who actually want to read them."   

The high performance of transactional messages did not surprise McDonald. "It makes sense: transactional messages are things like receipts, shipping confirmation or a password reset," he said. "These are emails that are important and valuable to the recipient, so it makes sense they’ll be opening them more often."

The Lowdown on Personalization

Silverpop's numbers confirm what many have said: personalized messages and one-to-one marketing rule today. McDonald explained:

Customers today are busy, and marketers need to provide promotions, content and information when it’s best for the customer, not the marketing department. This requires a shift in thinking for many teams. Personalization doesn’t just mean 'Hi First Name.' It means providing content and offers that are most relevant to the customer’s needs and preference, when they are most likely to make a purchase and on the channel they prefer."