Email Marketing Insights
January 28, 2010 | Kristin Hersant
Last week’s MarketingSherpa Email Summit was packed full of case studies and best practice recommendations from email marketing experts of all kinds, some of which sparked debate amongst the attendees. We have recapped some of the most prominent themes below and invite you to voice your opinion on these topics by posting a comment on StrongMail’s Email Marketing Insights blog.
Double Opt-in vs. Single Opt-in
A lot of marketers struggle with whether they should build their email marketing program using a double or single opt-in process. Single opt-in entails the subscriber checking a box to imply consent, whereas double opt-in also sends them an email requesting that they click on a link to confirm their intent to subscribe.
Email marketing purists and deliverability experts tend to favor double opt-in, because it ensures that only the most truly engaged and enthusiastic subscribers become members of your list. While double opt-in limits the size of your list, it theoretically increases the quality, which in turn increases response rates for programs across the board.
Dela Quist, the CEO of London-based email marketing agency Alchemy Worx, took an alternative view during his MarketingSherpa presentation. Assuming that a brand doesn’t send email marketing campaigns to anyone who hasn’t provided their initial permission, Quist said "Double opt-in is one step too far. Email marketing is the only marketing channel that you can unsubscribe from, so let them." He has a point. While double opt-in is wise for specific use cases (e.g. to stop people from seeding your list with bad email addresses), it may not be so wise to put up an extra barrier for subscribers that are truly interested in hearing from you.
Which approach is the right one? Marketers appear to be divided on the issue. One third of marketers use single opt-in, 17% use double opt-in and nearly half use a mix of both.
On a related topic, many speakers at this year's event talked about list growth. A lot of great tips were presented, such as offering opt-ins at every touch point and most importantly, giving your subscribers valuable content that they choose to engage with. But whatever strategy you employ, capturing opt-in email addresses is critical. As Jeanne Jennings, Director of Email Product Development for Cahners Business Media stated in one session, "If you can get [website] browsers to opt-in to your list, you can market to them again. Otherwise they leave your site and are gone forever."
Everyone agreed that building your own list is significantly more targeted and effective than buying or renting. However, hybrid approaches can also be effective when executed properly. According to Jennings, 32 percent of marketers using co-registration see performance equal to that of their house list.
With regard to email frequency, the ever provocative Dela Quist asked, "Why is email the only marketing channel where frequency is a dirty word? Stop beating yourselves up!" In every other marketing channel, frequency is seen as positive because it increases brand impressions. He illustrated the power of these impressions though a video by UK magician Darren Brown on the power of subliminal messaging. Quist proposes keeping inactive subscribers on your list and using the subject line as a branding opportunity. Just because they’re not opening your email marketing campaign doesn’t mean that seeing your brand in their inbox isn’t going to remind them to engage you in another channel.
Dr. Flint McGlaughlin from Marketing Experiments also presented a detailed study showing a direct correlation between email frequency and revenue for one retailer. The more email they sent, the more revenue it generated. If a recipient is engaged with your brand and you are providing them value, there is no such thing as mailing too often. It’s fairly certain that the millions of frenzied bargain hunters that subscribe to shopping sites like Gilt Group, HauteLook and Rue-la-la would be thrilled to get more than one email a day featuring access to exclusive designer sales.
On the opposite side of the issue was a case study with AirTran, which showed that raising frequency beyond three emails a week resulted in a 4X increase in unsubscribes. Such discrepancies highlight the importance of testing to determine the right approach for your business, but the key takeaway seemed to be that as long as your are providing value to your subscriber base, you shouldn’t be afraid to push the frequency envelope.
If you attended the event or have your own perspectives on any of the topics featured at this event, we encourage you to voice your opinions in the comments section.