Retailers Skip Branding, Personalization in E-Mails

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Retailers need to intensify branding and personalization in e-mails to snare more customers, according to a study released at conference in Las Vegas this week.

Silverpop, Atlanta, studied 175 retailers' e-mail marketing programs and found that 48 percent included neither the brand nor the company name in the subject line of their e-mails. Fewer than one-third included either the company or product name in the subject line.

"It takes between 1.5 and six seconds to identify who the message is from and whether or not they open it. Branding is the most consistent way to achieve that recognition," Elaine O'Gorman, vice president of strategy for Silverpop, told DM News.

Still, O'Gorman is more concerned about the lack of branding in the e-mail body than in the subject line. Creating a consistent look and branding message across e-mails is vital, she said.

"We could see more consistency across messages and would like to see a lot more people pay attention to the creative in their e-mails," she said.

For example, an e-mail format retail marketers commonly use is a single-image postcard. But most of these images appear broken in consumers' e-mail boxes because of Internet service providers' image filters. With a broken graphic, the unsubscribe message gets bounced to the top of the e-mail.

E-mail marketers should separate the text from the graphics and, instead of displaying the images, let users click to display the graphics.

Personalization is another area needing improvement, the study found, as 95 percent of retail marketers use no type of personalization in their e-mails.

JupiterResearch found that marketers using personalization in e-mail campaigns are 40 percent more likely to have average conversion rates exceeding 3 percent versus those that don't personalize.

Personalization is not limited to using the recipient's name, O'Gorman said. Marketers can tailor messages based on the customer's purchase history, geographic location and other factors. For example, retailers can include images that relate to the customer's interests. If the consumer buys upscale women's clothing, include a picture of that type of clothing in a standard e-mail to that customer.

"Use what you know about the customer to make it relevant to them," she said.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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