Everyday Email Essentials

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Huckberry gears up for content marketing with an email sign-up on its website
Huckberry gears up for content marketing with an email sign-up on its website

Today's marketers have to incorporate data from multiple sources if they hope to gain the deep insight needed to surpass average open and click-through rates. Here are three must-have data sets that every marketer should include in his or her email strategy.

  • Mobile opens

According to the “Email Client Market Share” study by email testing and analytics provider Litmus, the iPhone is the most popular email client, accounting for 23% of the 207 million email opens tracked. Not only are more consumers opening emails via their mobile devices, but they also expect all emails to be optimized for mobile, says Seth Berman, director of global marketing for online pregnancy and parenting resource BabyCenter.

So, knowing which devices and operating systems consumers use to read emails is becoming a campaign prerequisite. Yet, Tom Sather, senior director of email research at email intelligence provider Return Path, says some industries may need a mobile strategy more than others. For example, according to Return Path's “Email Mostly Mobile” infographic, 40% of retail messages are opened via a mobile device, compared to 15% from banks.

  • Read rates

Marketers should take note of not only their own long-term inbox placement and read rates, but also those of their competition, Sather says. In terms of read rates, Berman says BabyCenter tracks how many of their consumers read, skim, glance, and delete its emails and via what device. “Open rate doesn't really tell you the whole story about engagement, nor does clickthrough rate for that matter,” Berman says. “[It's] really understanding how long is a user looking at that email and consuming that email versus opening it and deleting it.”

  • Preference

Having a preference center is a great way to obtain demographic data and determine what kind of content and link categories consumers favor, says Mike Hotz, director of strategic services for cross-channel solutions provider Responsys. For example, BabyCenter acquires a baby's due date or a child's birthday during user registration to provide relevant content to parents. The company also uses geographic data to target content, such as writing “mom” for consumers in the United States but “mum” for those in the UK. Berman says geographic location also influences the content in terms of language or local customs, such as those pertaining to traditions or dress.

Hotz warns, however, that preference data is “only as good as when [consumers] first filled it out.” He advises incorporating social graph data to ensure that consumer preference data is fresh.

Data for all or only some?

However, not all brands share the same data devotion. Andy Forch, cofounder of men's interest blog and online shop Huckberry, acknowledges that while the brand sends emails twice a week alerting consumers of products and content, data is not currently his company's priority.

“We're pretty email dumb in that we don't do any segmentation, we don't do any A/B testing, [and] we don't do personalization,” Forch admits.

Forch says he likes the “serendipity” of content and products that can arise from a lack of personalization and segmentation. Even without segmentation Huckberry emails still perform well, with an average 40% open rate and 40 to 45% click-through rate. “It's almost like permutation of ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it,” Forch says.

So what's the secret to Huckberry's content email eminence?

“The content has to be great, the copy has to be great, the pictures have to be great, and the stories have to be great,” Forch says. “That's the driving force behind our emails.”

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