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Larry Bruce

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I recently read a great article on Global Consumer Email Trends. This article discussed the various ways North Americans, Europeans and Asians view and use email. While each were very different in their usage and most interestingly in the way they respond to email, there are some bottom line truths when it comes to email and how we use it to market and how the multiple cultures we are marketing to view it. No matter what the ethnicity there are clear rules for effective email communication.

Permission Based Email (PBE) is the only way you will be getting to a consumers inbox in the very near future. According to a recent study by Messages Lab, SPAM hit an all time high in February of this year at 85% of what is being sent to your inbox. Major ISP’s like MSN, AOL, GMAIL, Yahoo and other have already begun to crack down. If you are one of those marketers out there that is doing EMAIL BLASTS… STOP you’re wasting your time and most of the emails you send are not even getting to your customer. 

You must allow the customer to decide how you will connect with them and most importantly you cannot betray that trust.

DO NOT LOAD UP A CUSTOMERS INBOX! A recent study by Forrester Group sited the number one reason for a customer opt out is too much email from a sender. Even if you have permission and even if your content is relevant if you send too much you abuse my generosity in allowing you to contact me. If you're lucky I will only opt out, if it’s really bad I will turn you in as spam. see a screen shot below of how easy it is for your customer to turn you in as spam and block you from all customers on a particular ISP.

  1. North American consumers lead the way in email usage as personal communication at 87%. More than one third of all Americans have replaced traditional methods of communication in favor of email for the following items. Communications from their bank (40%), Promotional Postal Mail (38%), Telemarketing (34%). If you didn’t already believe that broadcast voice was fading as an effective marketing tool, you need to now. There is also a continuing desire for email to displace offline coupons (14%) and telemarketing (28%). customers are more likely to elicit action directly from the email including clicking a link to a website or watching a video clip.

All regions of customer continue to take a variety of offline actions as a result of email communications.

  1. Visiting a store (49%) – if your are measuring open rate or click through rate as a bench mark for email marketing success you need to keep this number in mind.
  2. Purchasing by phone (25%) – Call tracking a must for every campaign you do, this also stresses the need for a multi-channel approach to all marketing.

Also notable was what compelled customers to open permission-based email. Over 50% of the Asian ethnicity felt the subject line was the compelling reason to open an email, more than two thirds of North American respondents looked at the from line as the most compelling reason to open an email. This again stresses the importance for having explicit permission to communicate with your customers and ask them to put you in their safe senders list. Additionally, discount offers, free product offers, familiar brand names and personalization of subject lines increase the likelihood of opening.

It is worth stating here that getting permission once doesn’t give you permission forever. You should constantly reinforce with your email base the permission to communicate via email. Also you should make it very easy to opt out. The bottom line if the customer doesn't want to receive email from you…you don’t want to send it and if they do want out you want them to be able to do so through you not by adding you as SPAM.

Additional Notes:

* Spam is the most common type of email received in all regions. Other types of emails include retail offers, work-related emails, emails related to personal interests, emails from friends and family, business newsletters and account statements.

* Security concerns and a lack of attractive offers/promotions are the primary reasons they do not interact with the emails they receive. This doesn't mean the email needs to be pretty, that is not what they mean here by attractive. In this case attractive means a compelling offer (one of high perceived value). Pretty will not show well in the most common email client “Microsoft Outlook” and a great deal of HTML will set your email higher on the SPAM list with the major ISP’s.

* North Americans are the most likely to unsubscribe to emails; Irrelevant content and frequency are cited as the two most likely reasons for un-subscription; I cannot stress this enough!!!!!

* About eight in 10 North American respondents have added PBE addresses to safe sender lists. Overall, more than half of respondents have added PBE addresses to safe sender lists. Customers will do this if you don’t load up their inbox, make sure your content is relevant, match you message to the content you direct them to and keep your marketing promises.

* The biggest concerned about viruses, identity theft, phishing, and scams. Concerns about phishing and pharming have increased significantly from 2005 to 2009 for US. This is why if you place high graphics and video that must be downloaded into your email very few will get the message. They don’t want to get the images out of fear.

* While most consumers manage one primary inbox for the programs they subscribe to, mobile phones and PDAs are gaining popularity for time-sensitive alerts such as news, weather and finance/stock information. This is where a Twitter account would come in handy. Keep in mind TIME SENSITIVE ALERTS don’t tweet me unless its important or will help significantly.

* The highest percentages in all regions say they prefer to receive emails in HTML format, while those in Asia-Pacific are most likely to say they have no preference.

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