Email Is a Gift Horse (So Don't Look it in the Mouth)

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Email Is a Gift Horse (So Don't Look it in the Mouth)
Email Is a Gift Horse (So Don't Look it in the Mouth)

Not many people have a chance to attend their own funeral. But email has had that opportunity multiple times in recent years courtesy of its many naysayers—despite the fact that email remains a major driver of ROI, especially during the peak holiday season.

According to Experian Marketing Services, email volume increased nearly 13% during the 2013 holiday season year-over-year, and ROI per message—as in the number of total transactions directly attributable to email marketing campaigns—went up 9%, leading to an 18.4% uptick in overall revenue industry-wide. Over the last 10 days of the holiday season alone, email volume shot up a record-breaking 35%.

“Email clearly still remains one of the highest ROI vehicles we have and at this point it's still driving the bulk of commerce traffic both online and offline,” says Jeff Hassemer, SVP of global product strategy for cross-channel marketing at Experian Marketing Services. “Just like the catalog still drives the most valuable customer, email still drives the most ROI, and I don't think it's going to be knocked off its pedestal any time soon.”

One factor that's helping email continue to thrive is mobile. In fact, a whopping two thirds (65%) of all multichannel retail email was opened on a mobile device over the past holiday season—more than in any other industry, including CPG, media and entertainment, or travel.

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“So many people have called for the death of email because of mobile, but email has transformed itself into a great communication vehicle on mobile devices,” Hassemer says. “The number of emails viewed on mobile devices is a clear indication of the fact that more people are doing things on-the-go—and, especially with holiday shopping, a lot of that mobile activity could actually be happening right in the middle of a mall.”

As in, just steps away from the stuff on the shelves, which is why optimizing for mobile is something marketers can't afford not to do.

“People are interacting with their mobile devices probably more than through any other channel today, so optimizing for that interaction can lead to big commerce decisions,” Hassemer says. “We all hope to catch someone at the right moment in the purchase funnel and mobile is a way to do just that.”

Overall, Experian's findings—that email volume went up in conjunction with derived ROI—seem to confirm that marketers are getting more sophisticated in their targeting. If marketers were just spraying and praying, there wouldn't be a commensurate increase in transaction levels.

“It's a signal that email is actually increasing in its effectiveness, not only as a driver of online traffic volume but also, especially for retailers, as a driver for offline traffic in the retail environments themselves,” Hassemer says. “Marketers have become increasingly more sophisticated with targeting and more relevant in their messaging, and that's why we're seeing a jump in the interaction between email and commerce.”

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