Six month study shows major retailers failing to make the most from email marketing


Major retailers are failing to capitalise on the opportunities offered by email marketing, a new six month study has found.

The Customer Communications Report 2015, from strategic multichannel consultancy Practicology tracked the email newsletter activity of almost 100 retailers over a six month period and found several areas where big improvements could be made.

Of the 100 well known retailers chosen, Practicology was able to sign up and receive email marketing from 91 of them, without having to register for an account with the site.

However despite their potential as customers, having signed up to the communication, 15% of those retailers never contacted the researchers – including major retail names such as Marks & Spencer, Majestic Wine, Bathstore and Mothercare.

Acknowledgement of sign-up was also relatively poor with only just over two thirds (67%) sending a welcome email. However the response rate of those who did send a welcome email was comparatively fast with 63% managing to send the email on the day of sign-up.

Responsiveness of emails also left something to be designed with less than half (48%) sending emails that were responsive and therefore changed design to suit the screen size of whatever device the user was viewing them on. Retailers including the likes of Argos, Sports Direct and Ikea were amongst those who, despite having responsive/mobile websites, had failed to apply the same capability to their email marketing.

The majority of retailers also failed to acknowledgement potential peak trading periods through their email marketing with only 47% acknowledging at least one of four key events that took place during the six month study period – including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter and Wimbledon.

How often retailers communicate with their customers via email marketing also varied but some risked overkill with 7% of those in the study emailing on a daily basis – a practise that is likely to quickly tire customers unless the content is genuine and engaging enough to warrant such regular communication.

Engaging with customers through any channel is key and whilst just over three quarters (76%) sent emails with links to their social media accounts included that leaves nearly a quarter who didn’t.

Practicology’s head of data and analytics Will Dymott said the report showed that there was more that retailers could do to make the most of their email marketing campaigns. “It seems perverse that so many brands would ask for a customer’s email address and then do nothing with it. But even for those brands that did begin to contact us, there are many improvements that could be made.

“A well-constructed welcome programme, followed up with a grow-and-nurture programme which begins to tailor email content, should deliver you first-time buyers and convert them into more valuable repeat customers in time,” he added.

The full report is available here.

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