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RSR Research Study Measures Top Retailers' Email Effectiveness

Boston, MA, October 24, 2017 - For retailers, email remains one of the most reliable and profitable digital marketing tools, delivering ROI of up to 3800 percent, according to the DMA. Yet, many organizations struggle to measure the overall health of their email programs. Digital marketing executives within retailers need a basis on which to have important discussions with the CMO and CFO about how to shepherd and maximize the massive asset that is their email program. Because of this, RSR Research and Coherent Path set out to discover the general practices that can make or break a retailer’s email strategy.

By analyzing nearly 140 retailers on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list, the companies explored specific elements of emails that could be measured objectively to identify the places where retailers are over- and under- investing in their subscriber list, and ultimately leaving money on the table. The report, Measuring Email’s Effectiveness, evaluates top retailers across three main categories: Email Frequency, Catalog Exposure and Email Content. Using a third-party tool, MailCharts, RSR acquired every email a retailer sent to an “unknown” or generic user (not subscribed to a loyalty program, without registering any click-throughs or preferences) over a specific period of time to score each retailer across categories.

“This report is the first step to objectively looking at retail email strategies. Despite this being an incredibly profitable channel for retailers, the vast majority received the equivalent of a failing letter grade and even the top performers have room for improvement with their C+ scores,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research. “No matter the individual grade, retailers would do well to consider how factors such as frequency, catalog exposure and content are impacting their email campaign strategies.”

Out of 100 possible points, the highest scoring retail brands are:

1. Club Monaco (79.9)

2. Crabtree & Evelyn (76.8)

3. BCBG Max Azria (76)

4. Hudson’s Bay (75.1)

5. Hanes (74.7)

Common Traits of Top Scoring Email Programs

-Overall, highest scoring retailers kept their email frequency in check, averaging roughly one email per day. The top five retailers averaged 32.7 out of 33.3 possible points for email frequency vs. an overall average score of 21.

-Most also made sure their emails contained multiple categories to reduce the risk that the main content might not appeal to consumers.

-They also generally made sure not to rely too heavily on promotional email subject lines.

Apparel Brands Top the Charts

Across all the verticals evaluated, Apparel companies had the highest average score of 57.6. While Catalog Exposure ranked similarly to that of the Department Store vertical, Apparel retailers excelled in Email Frequency (23.5 of 33.3) and Email Content (16.2 of 33.3 – tied with Big Box Specialty retailers).

Pure-Play Etailers vs. Multichannel Retailers

When looking at pure-play etailers’ email programs vs. retailers with both online and physical storefronts, RSR found that etailers are promoting either too much or too little, with a median score for emails with or without discount and promotional language at 48 percent vs. 41 percent for multichannel retailers. These digitally native brands need to fiercely protect their email list since they can’t rely on foot traffic to drive sales. And since they don’t have stores to use as showrooms, they need to use email to help expose more of their product catalog. At the rate they are going, it would take 3.51 years to expose their full catalog to a single shopper compared to 2.53 years for multichannel retailers.

The full report, which can be downloaded here, includes a ranking of the top 50 highest scoring brands, the top three brands in each industry vertical and the top three brands in each category – Email Frequency, Catalog Exposure and Email Content. In addition, the report offers guidance for retailers looking to improve their email marketing performance.

Retailers – Get Your Grade

Retailers that want to know how their email marketing program stacks up against the competition can use the Coherent Path Email Grader to get an in-depth look at the health of their email program. Coherent Path will deliver a custom Grader report that analyzes email frequency, catalog exposure and email content to demonstrate where a retailer’s email program is hitting the mark and where there’s room for improvement. Click here to get your grade.

“With heavy-hitters like Amazon gaining a huge piece of ecommerce’s market share, retailers simply can’t afford to ‘mail it in’ when it comes to their email strategy,” said James Glover, founder and CEO of Coherent Path. “This first-of-its-kind research on the practices that make a successful email program paired with the availability of our custom email effectiveness reports arm brands with a much-needed reality check on where they stand, and actionable ways to improve their email strategy.”

About Coherent Path

Coherent Path is the email marketing calendar company for top retailers seeking to transform their email program into a modern data-driven channel focused on revenue. The company’s machine learning solution empowers retailers with the relevant themes and categories they should feature in today’s campaigns, while continuously learning to inform the campaigns of tomorrow. By creating an optimized email diet that caters to each customer’s evolving tastes and moods, Coherent Path helps retailers quickly engage and cross-sell customers and promote strategic product categories while reducing email fatigue. Headquartered in Boston, Mass. with offices in Toronto, Coherent Path works with retail leaders including Neiman Marcus and Staples. For more information, visit www.coherentpath.com, follow us on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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