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Top retailers blasted for "dismal" email and social marketing

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13th May 2010
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The UK’s top retailers are failing to exploit key email marketing techniques, which include incorporating social media links to help build mailing lists and encourage the viral spread of messages.

According to an email marketing benchmark study entitled ‘Hitting the Mark’ undertaken by digital marketing agency dotMailer, the average score for email effectiveness was 67 out of 100 this year, which was the same as 2009 but four points lower than 2008.

The organisation, which analysed emails from 36 retailers in April 2010, also indicated that 73% of the 30 retailers included in last year’s study achieved lower ratings this time around, while only four out of the total scored 70 or above.

After two years in poll position, Marks & Spencer was knocked off the top spot by HMV and Republic, both of which gained scores of 72. New Look and Figleaves came in joint third with 70. The worst performing organisation, however, was Currys, which obtained a rating of only 46, while Lidl and STA came in second from bottom at 48.

Tink Taylor, dotMailer’s managing director who is also a member of the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Marketing Council, said: "For two years in a row, there has been no obvious improvement made by the retailers we have assessed, which is disappointing given some of the simple steps that can be taken to boost the effectiveness of email marketing."

The medium provided a cost-effective, trackable and accountable means of communicating with prospects and customers, but too many companies were still "getting it wrong", he added.

While last year’s report had criticised retailers for failing to personalise their messages by using the names of recipients, this year saw ratings in this area fall even further, with only three bothering to do so. Moreover, while a third collected additional data such as gender and interests, only four used the information to tailor the email content that they sent.

To make matters worse, organisations scored a "dismal" average of 5.7 out of 15 for their social media performance. Only 17% of email campaigns included ‘share on social network’ links and only four retailers provided a link to their blog. Another seven carried such blogs on their websites, but made no reference to them in their emails.

Finally, many companies were failing to undertake the relatively simple steps required to avoid their emails being picked up as spam. This was despite the fact that 19% of recipients said they perceived messages as spam if they were blank when images are turned off. The same number said they would not read an email if they thought it was spam.

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