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Nearly nine of 10 email marketers (87%) say relevant content within the email message is “very important,” followed by  eight of 10 (81%) who rated email deliverability as very important, according to a study by eROI, which surveyed email marketers on their perceptions of and experiences with email.

The study sought the marketers’ opinions on what they deem is important when creating an email, how they design emails, and how they test deliverability and rendering.

Notably, only 68% of respondents said coding email emails to work across various email clients was very important – despite recent concerns with image blocking and the lack of support for style sheets in Outlook 2007.

“Many marketers are still behind the times, with only about two-thirds of marketers coding emails properly to work on all major email clients,” Jeff Mills, author of the study, told MarketingCharts. By taking relatively simple steps, “like using ALT tags so readers can still see what the offer is about even when images are blocked,” Mills said marketers can improve results.

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For example, though “age-old email marketing wisdom” says a call to action that’s above the fold increases response, only 59% of respondent consider it very important, according to the study. “There is a huge opportunity for marketers to button up their email programs and know that the little things really do matter,” Mills said.

Moreover, although email marketers claim relevant content is very important, over half of them say they send broad-based messages to their entire list and do not direct email to specific segments of their list: Only 55% said segmentation was very important.

When coding email, most marketers focus mainly on four email clients, eROI found:

  • Outlook 2003 (63% of respondents)
  • Hotmail/MSN (62%)
  • Gmail (60%)
  • Yahoo (57%)

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eROI also compared results between marketers who use agencies (23%) and those who use in-house resources (82%), and found, for example, that those using agencies had 50% fewer email bounces. That’s likely due to “more proactive list-cleaning, checking content and using third-party deliverability tools to test message delivery before distribution,” according to the study.
 
“There is a significant increase in response rates for agency-managed emails compared with those of in-house designers,” Mills said. “This is not surprising, as agencies can bring a much wider breadth of experience.”

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