Study Highlights Retailers` Email Marketing Shortcomings

Released on: February 21, 2008, 3:56 am

Press Release Author: dotMailer

Industry: Marketing

Press Release Summary: . 46% of retailers fail to follow legal best practice in emails
. Topshop, STA Travel and ASDA top email effectiveness index
. H&M, Lidl and Office languish at the bottom of table

Press Release Body: Study Highlights Retailers' Email Marketing Shortcomings
. 46% of retailers fail to follow legal best practice in emails
. Topshop, STA Travel and ASDA top email effectiveness index
. H&M, Lidl and Office languish at the bottom of table
21 February 2008, London: A new retail benchmark study, Hitting the Mark,
( released today by dotMailer, reveals
that some of the UK's largest online and offline retailers are neglecting key areas
of the email marketing process and failing to comply with Best Practice Guidelines.
Incredibly, almost half of the retailers (46%) failed to comply with basic legal
requirements, according to the study, which evaluates 46 retailers' email campaigns
against 20 criteria, awarding each email campaign an Email Effectiveness rating out
of 100.
Topshop heads the index of UK retailers with a score of 86.5 but is one of only
eight to score over 80%. STA Travel, ASDA and M&S were close behind with 85.5, 84.5
and 83.5 respectively. At the other end, shoe retailer Office came in last place
(54) just behind Lidl and H&M (both 57). Overall an alarming 35% failed to score
more than 70.
Key failings identified by the study included minimal or ineffective design,
inappropriate landing pages and non-existent targeting. Alarmingly the average score
for effective targeting was a lowly 16%, with only five brands in the study using
information about customer preferences to tailor email content and just 15% asked
for any information about customer preferences during the sign-up process.
The study also revealed that retailers are not investing in email specific design
skills. By failing to understand the unique technical requirements of email design,
communications are failing to render correctly across inboxes leading to a less than
satisfactory customer experience. Only 30% of retailers invested in campaign
specific designs and 40% of retailers failed to design relevant landing pages with
consistent branding and a clearly visible offer or call to action.
"Our study was eye-opening in demonstrating that many retailers are failing to
realise the full potential of email as a sophisticated direct marketing channel,
offering vast scope for targeted and measurable communications," said Tink Taylor,
dotMailer's Business Development Director and a member of the Direct Marketing
Association's Email Marketing Council. "There is a long way to go in understanding
that email requires specific skills and expertise that offline designers and website
developers do not always possess or are not actually aware of. These key elements
are essential to ensuring that email marketing activity engages customers,
encourages them to interact with brands, and ultimately, impact sales."
The 20 criteria in the report were used to evaluate the key factors that need to be
addressed by any email marketing campaign to be effective across the four key areas
that determine success: deliverability, renderability, open rates and response
rates. A range of aspects were considered, including sign-up, unsubscribing, the
HTML code used, effectiveness of the design, targeting and time of sending.
Top Five Performers Index Worst Five Offenders Index
Topshop 86.5 Office 54
STA Travel 85.5 H&M 57
ASDA 84.5 Lidl 57
Marks & Spencer 83.5 Expedia 59.5
Thomson 81.5 Somerfield 61

"With spam accounting for 85-95% of all emails sent, it is now more crucial than
ever for marketers to get their message across. However, ISPs are filtering out
marketing email and consumers are becoming more selective in the way they view, read
and delete emails.
"Email marketing is a complex marketing method and if we simply ignore the best
practice guidelines or not aware of the issues involved then we fail to maximise
every opportunity that email offers. This study highlights how marketers should use
the criteria we outline throughout their planning and development stages to ensure
that they get the most out of their email marketing," concludes Tink Taylor.
Some of the most critical problems found were:
Good practice legal requirements were not included - Following the Companies
Regulations of 2006, marketers have adopted as best practice the requirement that
every marketing email should now include the company registration number, country of
registration and a registered office address. Incredibly, 46% of the emails studied
did not contain this vital information
The website landing page was not consistent with the look and feel of the email - An
email marketing message acts as a vehicle to direct recipients to a website.
However, too often either the wrong link was used or a website page no longer
existed. Many landing pages looked different to the email itself and lacked clear
navigation that would allow calls-to-action to be followed through to a measurable
conversion. 40% of the retailers assessed scored under half in this category
Emails did not render across popular email clients - Very few emails managed to
display properly across the most common UK email clients. This suggests that
designers are not aware of the way certain inboxes render emails and have not tested
the message prior to sending.
No viral element or links were hidden - Only 20% of the emails examined contained a
forward to a friend link or viral element and of these, many were hidden at the
bottom of the email out of sight
Design was not appropriate to email or specific campaign - The survey revealed that
only 30% of retailers had invested in a campaign-specific design
The email showed no evidence of targeting - Only 15% of retailers asked for any
information about interests during signup. Targeting is crucial to ensuring that the
right message is sent to the right person at the right time. Retailers scored 16% on
average in this section
The full report and whitepaper can be downloaded from


Notes to Editors

About dotMailer
dotMailer is a UK-based, industry-leading provider of email marketing solutions,
backed up by a dedicated client services team to help customers get the most from
their investment in email marketing programmes. The dotMailer permission-based email
marketing system allows users to create or edit high-impact HTML emails and manage
all aspects of their email campaigns from the desktop via a secure web interface.
dotMailer offers the industry's most powerful campaign measurement tools, including
conversion and ROI tracking. dotMailer is a division of Ellipsis Media, a web
design and development company.

For media information, please contact:
Danny Whatmough
Wildfire PR
Tel: +44 20 8339 4426

Web Site:

Contact Details: Danny Whatmough
Wildfire PR
Tel: +44 20 8339 4426

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