The Email Experience Council, the email marketing arm of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), released "Retail Email Rendering Benchmark Study." The 41-page study examines the email design practices of 104 top online retailers tracked via RetailEmail.Blogspot, and examines their performance in an images-off email environment. It also includes the results of a survey of 472 marketers regarding rendering issues, conducted in conjunction with SubscriberMail, the sponsor of this study.
"The results of this study underscore the importance of proactively designing email to compensate for image suppression," said Jordan Ayan, CEO of SubscriberMail, in a statement. "Specifically, email marketers must design emails to work with and without images present and test to ensure optimal image rendering. Marketers whose design accounted for image suppression reported impressive lifts in key performance areas. Still, a significant percent of email marketers realize this issue, yet fail to take action to address it."
The study found that 23% of retailers send emails that are completely unintelligible when images are blocked. Of the 77% that sent intelligible emails, there were significant variations in clarity based on their use of HTML text and alt tags. Only 42% of retailers designed emails that were a good mix of HTML text and images, and only 63% of retailers used alt tags on their images adequately or extensively. A marketer's use of HTML text and alt tags are major determinants of the intelligibility of their emails.
By optimizing emails for image suppression, double-digit percentage improvements are possible, said Chad White, the eec's director of retail insights and editor at large, founder of RetailEmail.Blogspot, and the study's author. "So there's ample incentive for marketers to follow the leaders and redesign their templates and alter their design processes."
Other findings include:
- 14% of retailers compose their navigation bars with HTML text rather than images.
- 3% of retailers used HTML call-to-action buttons rather than images.
- 88% of retailers include a "click to view" link in their preheader text.
- 63% of retailers include whitelisting instructions in their preheader text.
- The emails from only 21% of retailers displayed meaningful snippet text.