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A new global study by Epsilon International is a guide for email marketers to understand consumer preferences and the complex combination of timing, frequency and content to achieve email cut-through.

The largest global survey researching email marketing has revealed insights and how best to re-deploy recession-hit traditional marketing budgets into revenue-generating digital communications.

The Global Consumer Survey by Epsilon, the world’s largest email marketing services business, polled 4,000 people to reveal their online habits and digital media behaviour. The results examine and contrast individual markets such as the UK, and regions such as the USA, Europe and APAC.

The study reveals:
• What makes people open and interact with email
• The value of rewards, discounts and vouchers in email marketing
• Best time of day to send email
• Best frequency of email
• Use of email vs social networks and other modes of communication
• Concerns over identity theft and viruses
• How email has replaced other direct marketing and information channels
• How email effectiveness sparks call to action (on and offline)
• The extent of spam filtering by consumers

UK KEY FINDINGS

Channel Use
• Email is used more regularly than social networking for personal communication. 79% of respondents use email as their primary mode of communication, only 10% use social networks.
• Weekends and evenings are the most popular times to check personal emails (before 10am and after 6pm). A quarter of people open 90-100% of permission based emails (PBE)

Email Open Rates
• Offers, discounts, brand names, compelling subject lines = higher open rates
• Coupons prompt on and offline redemption/purchases = higher open rates
• Special offers second-highest reason people respond to PBE
• Inversely, offers that are not attractive enough are one of the main barriers to positive response by recipient. Marketers need to increase the attractiveness of their offers.
• Frequency, timing and relevancy of each email is becoming more important for recipients; click-through rates and revenue uplift are more likely if the right combination is made by the sender.

Email delivers high Call to Action rates
The results show a very strong call to action, resulting in online and offline purchases, click through to a website (73%) or watching a video clip (44%).

Upon opening permission-based email:
• 46% purchase online
• 43% purchase offline at retail store
• 29% purchase over the phone
• 73% click on a website
• Watch a video clip – 44%

Coupon redemption is high with half of respondents using coupons to purchase online:
• 50% use coupons to purchase online
• 42% use coupons to purchase offline

Being in the market for the product or service has the highest impact on the likelihood of the recipient to respond (80%), followed by special offers and discounts 69%

Open Rates and what compels people to open email
• Nearly a quarter of respondents open 91-100% of permission based emails (PBE)
• “From” line is more important than “Subject Line” with 66% finding content of the “From” line most influential in compelling them to open against 29% for subject line length
• Free product offers and discount offers are the most compelling subject lines, followed by a familiar brand name:
o 62% Free product offer
o 55% Discount offer
o 41% Contains familiar brand name
o 37% Breaking news/info
o 34% New product
o 34% Contains recent purchase info
• “Offers not attractive enough” cited by nearly half of respondents (46%) as reason to not interact with an email. Followed by “security” at 43% and “Emails too long” at 26%.

Email displacing other direct marketing/information channels
• Email is replacing promotional postal mail and bills/statements, and there is a strong desire for it to replace telemarketing calls and in-person sales calls in the future.
• 41% said email has replaced direct mail and a further 20% would like to see email replace this form of direct marketing. In further results email has replaced:
o 39% bills or statements (a further 10% would like it to)
o 34% telemarketing calls (33% would like it to)
o 33% in person sales calls (30% would like it to)
o 27% retails discount offers and/or coupons (19% would like it to)

Ian Hitt, managing director of Epsilon International EMEA, said: “Marketers are shifting budgets into ROI-driven channels such as email. The results of Epsilon’s Global Consumer Survey will help marketers better understand consumer email behaviour and enable them to maximise the value of their campaigns. By understanding consumer psychology highly-targeted creative emails can cut through from other marketing messages and directly engage with recipients -- improving chances of conversion and generating increased sales at point of purchase.”

Methodology: This study was conducted by ROI Research among Survey Sampling International’s panel of participants and includes respondents from the United Kingdom who currently have an active email account and receive permission-based email. The survey was in field during April 2009.

Published on: 2:00PM on 8th June 2009