We’ve all heard that email is dead. But David Daniels, CEO and co-founder of marketing education and advisory service provider The Relevancy Group, says email is here to stay. I sat down with Daniels at ExactTarget’s Connections ’13 conference, and discussed which email marketing metrics and trends are here for good.
How would you describe the year of 2013 to 2014?
I would describe it as the renaissance for email. People finally understand that it’s not going away. It’s here to stay. At The Relevancy Group, we like to think about it like our digital fingerprint because we need an email address to pretty much do anything or everything. Are people interacting with email less? No. On the desktop computer maybe. All the things in mobile have really fueled [the renaissance].
Are there any common email practices today that really make you cringe?
There are a number of people that [don’t] actually use the data that’s available to them and actually test. There’s so much opportunity out there. In our market research, we do surveys every month. And still, the number of people that use click behaviors as a segmentation attribute—have you clicked, haven’t you clicked—it’s still only about a quarter of marketers who actually use that data…Those are things that make me cringe: Why aren’t more people doing that? The other thing is testing. We still only see about one-third of marketers—and that number is pretty consistent year to year—do even basic A/B testing. I think part of the reason for that is it’s a time and material issue. There’s just not enough hours in the day.
When marketers buy technology, it’s usually best-of-breed. What are the advantages and challenges?
The integration of that data or the time it takes to get that data [is a challenge]. Some of our large retail clients have to go and fill out a statement sheet even before the data gets pulled to say “this is my ROI statement of why I want to see that data out of that repository…” You have to go through all these layers and hoops. That’s about a week before you actually get the data that you think you want. Then when you get it, you might think this isn’t actually the data that I was looking for.
What’s one channel that email complements particularly well today?
It’s certainly social in both directions: Being able to use social as a platform to acquire new email registrants but to also use email as a push channel to say ‘you just bought this, can you go do a product review on our website?’…Consumers again feel like they have a voice and they’re part of that process.
What’s one metric that you think marketers overhype?
Open rates would probably be one of those metrics because it’s flawed. It’s been flawed since email started…Why the open rate doesn’t really matter is because all of the images have to render. Most things are off by default. We know that about 40% of consumers turn images on. Now with the way that people are triaging their email on the mobile devices, that plays into it. It’s a rendering issue. It’s a good indicator if you see your opens drop off. That’s probably an indicator that there’s a deliverability issue. It’s good from that perspective as an alert. As far as a constant measure to look at or to benchmark people on across the industry, it’s a horrible metric…I would focus more on the behavioral things like clicks and click-to-open rates.