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A couple of new reports have been released surrounding email marketing. One, from OneSpot and The Relevancy Group [download page], highlights how personalization can positively influence response rates, while the other, from Return Path, demonstrates why a bad reputation can have the opposite impact.

Email Personalization

The study from OneSpot and the Relevancy Group derives its data from a survey of 350 executive marketers. According to the results, those who personalize products and content enjoy above-average:

  • Open rates (27.6% versus the 26.9% mean average);
  • Click rates (17.1% vs. 16.2%);
  • Conversion rates (3.7% vs. 3.5%); and
  • Average order values ($148.06 vs. $140.74).

These lifts are important as email figures to be a prime contributor to respondents’ revenues. Indeed, the marketers surveyed reported that an average of 21% of their revenues can be attributed to their email marketing initiatives, with this highest among financial services (24%) companies and lowest among travel & hospitality (14%) and retail/e-commerce (16%) companies.

Which Personalization Tactics Work Best?

With marketers’ personalization efforts mainly limited to email and websites, it’s worth examining the tactics that are currently popular and effective.

This latest study indicates that the most commonly-used tactic is first name personalization (78%). More than half are personalizing email content based on real-time data such as location (59%) and utilizing dynamic content in their emails (55%).

The use of human curated product personalization (48%) and personalized content based on software/machine learning (47%) is slightly less widespread.

The most successful personalization tactic is dynamic content in email marketing, with almost two-thirds of respondents reporting it to be effective. In fact, dynamic content is one of the leading ways in which marketers are innovating with email this year, per a separate report.

Close behind, roughly 6 in 10 feel that website content based on real-time data is effective (62%), as is personalized email content based on real-time data (60%).

Finally, the biggest factor preventing personalization? Lack of internal buy-in from stakeholders.

The Impact of Sender Reputation

Separately, Return Path recently published a study examining the influence of sender reputation on email delivery. To arrive at its conclusions, Return Path analyzed more than 4 trillion emails sent last year from IP addresses whose Sender Score was calculated, and whose subscriber engagement and inbox placement data were available for analysis. Sender Score is Return Path’s free reputation calculation service, and has a 0-100 rating.

The results indicate that senders with a score above 90 (91-100) had an average delivered rate last year of 92%, meaning that 92% of their messages were not bounced or rejected by mailbox providers’ gateway filters.

Sender Score appears to be strongly correlated with the Averaged Delivered Rate, which declined alongside lower Sender Score bands. For example, the Average Delivered Rate dropped to:

  • 72% for senders with a score of 81-90;
  • 45% for those with a score of 71-80;
  • 28% for those with a score of 61-70; and
  • 16% for those with a score of 51-60.

Senders with a score of 50 or below had 10% or fewer of their emails make it past gateway filters.

Meanwhile, senders with the highest scores (91-100) enjoyed the lowest complain rate, unknown recipient rate and average spam trap count. Not surprisingly, they averaged the highest inbox placement rates across the major providers.

AOL had the highest inbox placement rates across all sender score bands, with a 65% placement rate even among senders with a score of 1-10! For context, senders needed to have a score of at least 71 to achieve that rate on Gmail.

Looking at various verticals, the study notes that average sender scores are highest in the utilities sector (97) and lowest in the telecommunications (72) industry.

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