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The coolest trends in email marketing

Every year Jordie van Rijn collects all of the trends and predictions on email and marketing automation into an EPIC post called “The Future of email marketing”.

Now the outlines of email marketing trends start to take form, here are a few of this year’s favorites.

Email production automation will become the norm

We know email content automation is the email trend that nobody is really talking about yet. A lot of time spent in email creation can be automated using email templates and dynamic code. More and more marketers are making use of dynamic content as a time-saving email strategy. In combination with the right type of email template, it can be a big step forward in personalisation as well.

According to Litmus’s state of Email report, the most time that’s spent on email production is graphics & design (4.1 hours) followed by coding and development (3.8 hours).

That’s almost 45% of the time spent on email tasks (the others include: copywriting, data pulls/logic, testing and troubleshooting, and post-send analytics and analysis). There’s no reason as to why so much time should be spent in email content creative creation. More and more marketers are making use of dynamic content as a time saving email strategy.

‘Mailable ‘Microsites’ are set to continue its winning spree.

Jaymin Bhuptani of emailmonks talks about the mailable microsite, also known as Interactive email. These smart mails allow the user to interact with email within the inbox. Interactivity in email is all set to continue its winning spree in 2018.

An interactive email is an email where a click triggers an action within the same email. Interactive emails can keep the inbox interesting and unique. What type of interactions are there?

* Integrated forms and surveys,
* Social sharing,
* Gifs, videos, and animations,
* Search in email,
* Menu options / navigation bars,
* Rotational banners / carousels and Countdowns.

Now the fresh new part of this story is the news from google AMP for email, which allows to do a lot more in at least Gmail. However this is still a

The Interactive email essentially hands your audience what they need from inside the email, with much effort for them. They do not need to click through from the inbox to view content, interact with video or complete surveys – increasing the chance of engagement.

Even simple effects can make a (lasting) impression. See this example by TOMS, the live email uses interactivity, on interacting with the switch, the images updates and gets switched to the glow in the dark version.


Embrace the contextual email

Jamie Bradley from Emma gives the head up that Contextual Email is, well, quite cool.

More and more brands will use tools that integrate with their ESP to provide contextual email. Think things like a progress bar in a confirmation email that automatically updates the shipping status of something you ordered.

Or maybe a poll or survey where the results update in real time. The way to stand out in the inbox is to be more relevant and useful than your competitors, and contextual email is one (really cool) tactic to do just that.

An interesting development in that area is the announcement of Google AMP for Email, which could be opening more option to interact in the inbox (or at least Gmail). We will have to see just how that will turn out.

Emoji use will skyrocket 🚀

Mike Ragan, Designer at ActionRocket says: Emojis are a fascinating evolution of digital language and - crucially - becoming more and more integrated into our favourite “formal” tone of voice channel: email.

This emoji acceptance can be illustrated by companies such as Monzo, a bank keen to be seen as trustworthy and legitimate. But also real, human and reasonable. Kudos.

Emojis are great in email because they distil a lot of information, and convey it quickly. We predict being genuinely emoji literate will continue to be a coveted skill in 2018 and beyond.

A research published on econsultancy by Parry Malm, concluded  that emojis don’t always work, but basically are a result amplifier. They either make a bad subject line worse (40% of cases) or a good subject line better. (60% of cases).


I have Data, Automation, AI and personalisation on my mind.

How do brand side marketeers think email marketing will evolve? Econsultancy asked it to their panel of marketers: Out came a word cloud with the topics of Data, Automation, AI and personalisation to be most mentioned / top of mind. Of course there is much more to say, read the complete article with the summary with 100+ email marketing trends 2021 or the newest 2022 email marketing trends edition

State of Email Marketing Strategy in the UK

A recent Plan to Engage & Pure360 survey (The current state of email strategy) of over 500 UK marketers revealed a lack of strategy and an over reliance on open rates as a metric in email marketing programmes:

  • 39% of marketers do not currently have an email strategy in place
  • 64% of marketers don’t currently offer any alternatives to the traditional unsubscribe process
  • 32% of marketers do not currently report on their email marketing
  • Almost half (44%) of marketers don’t segment their email list
  • 54% of marketers reporting that they do not currently use automated campaigns

I thought today I’d address three of these findings:

Strategy: objective setting seen as a luxury not a necessity
I teach hundreds of email marketers every year and in every class I am amazed at the percentage of email marketers who do not have a solid strategy in place. 

Email is a channel where setting objectives seems to be a luxury rather than a necessity. There are very few other channels where setting objectives and KPIs are not mandatory – in fact I’m struggling to think of any – other than email.

Setting objectives is where we must start – as it affects everything we subsequently do – from creating the strategy and identifying the tactics, to designing, copywriting and creating the landing pages to testing and optimising. Everything, maps back to our objectives – business objectives, email programme objectives and of course campaign objectives.

Personally I believe the lack of objective setting and strategy creation is down to the channel historically being seen as ‘cheap’. Happily this is changing year by year but we still are suffering the effects of this way of thinking. I believe a simple mindset change can be very effective in remedying this situation. 

If we were all to swap the phrase ‘cheap channel’ with ‘cost-effective channel’ then suddenly we’re taking into consideration the ROI, the traffic, the branding exposure, the customer retention and strengthening of customer relationships we gain from this channel – all for a small amount of investment. Words are very powerful and the word ‘cheap’ has a lot of negative connotations associated with it. The word ‘cheap’ indicates something we probably won’t value, invest into it or treat it well. ‘Cost-effective’ however brings it to light as being the valuable, essential channel that should be prioritised and invested into. A good start to the investment is by implementing a holistic strategy for your email marketing programme.

Reporting: an over reliance on open rates
This ties in with the lack of objective setting. Basically, if you don’t know what you want to achieve and have a strategy in place – how do you determine what to measure? Email Marketing is one of the most accountable and trackable channels – let’s take advantage of this! 

Even if reporting is undertaken, too many email marketers seem to be too much value on the open rate and use it as their main measure of success. But in reality, does the open rate map back to your objective and actually signify success? I truly doubt it.

Personally I think that the days of viewing the open rate as a valuable metric are dated. To me it has always been a messy metric, not at all reliable and generally not a good indication of success. It does not report how many people have read your email, rather it reports how many people have downloaded images on your email. So, because of this, many email marketers have been using it to gauge reader engagement, assuming that a reader is engaged with your email because they have downloaded images. To this extent, this was a fairly safe assumption – until recently.

In 2013, Hotmail.com became Outlook.com and with that change, came also the automated downloading of images; recently Gmail has followed suit and is no longer blocking images but downloading them by default. Now, while this is wonderful news for our beautifully designed emails, it has made the open rate even more of a messy metric. No longer can we rely on it as being a measurement of engagement.

I would recommend that the reporting be structured to involve the metrics that truly indicate success according to your objective. That’s not to say that we ignore metrics such as opens or clicks, as there are insights that we can gain – not just on a campaign by campaign basis but on a subscriber reporting basis as well as in comparing year-on-year reports.

Unsubscribe: part of the customer journey
I believe we need to view everything to do related to our email programme as a journey, a journey that the customer takes. And yes, this journey may include them unsubscribing from our email programme. When I perform my email heath checks for my clients. I’ve discovered that many brands forget about optimising this step and just accept the basic process provided to them by their ESP. What they provide to you is just the start – not the end of optimising this process.

Not only is the unsubscribe process an opportunity to gather information about why they’re leaving (and hint – it isn’t always about your email programme! Sometimes it’s about a bad customer experience) or offer them the ability to opt down and stay subscribed.

But most importantly, if they decide that they really do want to leave, then this is your opportunity to let them leave you with a smile on their face, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. So, our main aim here is to give them a positive experience so that if they want to subscribe at a later stage or follow us on social media, they’re more likely to want to.

Hubspot do a great job at conveying this message with their video – just watch and enjoy.


(article originally published on DMA  UK Email Marketing Councils, Infobox)

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Email Marketing Strategy Survey

Have you ever wondered if larger marketing teams have a more advanced email strategy? Or if high volume senders are using less personalisation?

We want to answer these questions!

That's why Pure360 and Plan to Engage have teamed up to bring you a ground breaking report on the current state of email marketing strategy.

We would love to have your input in our research - to help us simply fill in our 5-minute survey on your email marketing strategy.

As a thank you, you will have a chance to win an iPad mini.

All answers will be strictly confidential.
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What will eCommerce look like in 2018?

What will ecommerce look like in 2018? This presentation by eConsultancy's Stefan Tornquist has some interesting stats.

Did you know that currently for every $92 spent acquiring visitors, only $1 is spent converting them? (Econsultancy, 2013) There is some serious work to be done in terms of conversion optimization!

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A Look Into Email Marketing Trends for 2013

Email is one of the most profitable marketing channels today. Looking at all the new technology hitting the market it does seem like the sky is the limit. With this new technology comes new consumer expectations, and new email marketing trends.

Many of the trends in email marketing are heavily based on technology advances. Optimizing email messages, both in design and message, for mobile platforms appears to be the wave of the future. At least, this is the big topic for discussion around many marketing tables.

Let’s take a look at what the predictions and trends are for email marketing in 2013 and beyond.

Digging into the Details

There has been talk that email marketing is on its way out, but the data shows a different picture. Email itself is only increasing in popularity, especially as more devices make it so easy to check messages anywhere and anytime.

According to the Radicati Group, Inc., the number of email accounts reached 2.9 billion in 2010, and email currently outpaces accounts on Facebook and other similar sites. The group predicts that email accounts will grow to over 3.8 billion in 2014.

With the growing reliance on email, it’s no wonder that consumer behavior continues to be influenced by the inbox.  ExactTarget found that well over three-quarters of those surveyed in its 2012 Channel Preference Study preferred to get permission-based marketing messages via email versus other channels.

Impressively, the same study found that email drives consumer purchases more than any other marketing channel. Sixty-six percent of the respondents said they made a purchase based on a marketing email, followed by direct mail, telephone, Facebook and text message, in that order.

The email marketing trend is growing because it works, and if you aren’t on board, you should be. A Forrester Research Email Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016, the amount spent on email marketing in the United States will increase by just shy of $1 billion by 2016.  More and more companies are including email in overall marketing strategy, giving them a possible competitive edge over those who haven’t heeded the trends.


Image source: http://www.forrester.com/Forrester+Research+Email+Marketing+Forecast+2011+To+2016+US/fulltext/-/E-RES59101

It’s a Mad, Mobile World

According to Flurry Analytics, December 25, 2012, alone, saw 17.4 million new smartphones and tablets activated. Christmas week saw a record 50 million iOS and Android devices activated. There’s no question that we are firmly in the mobile age.

As such, it is predicted that email marketing will continue to evolve to be mobile-device friendly. And it should be. The data shows that consumers clearly are accessing and influenced by emails on their Smartphones and other mobile devices.

Here are just a few eye-opening stats:

  • 79% of people use their smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who use it to actually make phone calls. Adobe –2013 Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits (2013)
  • More email is read by Mobile device than by desktop or via webmail. About 40% of email is now opened on a mobile device. Litmus –Email Analytics (Jan 2013)

In addition, mobile emails influence purchasing behavior. According to ExactTarget’s 2011 study Mobile Dependence, just over one-half of U.S. consumers who made at least one purchase using their Smartphone have done so because of a marketing email accessed via a mobile device.


Image source: www.ExactTarget.com/sff

Surprisingly, data shows that only a small amount of companies have optimized their email campaigns to be compatible with mobile devices. Only 14% of companies and 24% of agencies are designing emails specifically for mobile, according to the 2011 eConsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report. 

This could be the make or break for successful mobile email marketing, with good reason. Consumers often say they find reading emails harder on mobile devices than on computers; if they open a non-optimized marketing email via a mobile device, it could lead to disaster.

A 2012 BlueHornet study found that nearly 70% of consumers will delete an email immediately if it doesn’t display correctly: 


To be a successful email marketer, you would do well to get ahead of the curve, and consider making your messages mobile-friendly. 

Managing the Message

Now that we know the trends in email delivery, what are we looking at in terms of the emails themselves?

In 2013 and beyond, out are the one-size-fits-all email messages.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, so must the email marketing campaigns that we send. The basic tenets of email message crafting are the same, but some aspects are evolving.

1. Personalization:

According to the Aberdeen Group’s report, Email Marketing: Get Personal with Your Customers, personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%.

Blanket email blasts to an entire mail list are falling by the wayside. It is safe to say that email marketing will get better response if the message is personalized to the recipient. Analytics and data collection are key to tailoring your message for specific segments of your audience.

A way to kick personalization up a notch is by using triggered emails, where further emails are triggered by a recipient’s response, or lack thereof, to a previous email. According to Chad White, principal of marketing research at ExactTarget, email marketers using this and other sophisticated technology are significantly outperforming those that aren’t.

“Under invest in triggered emails at your own peril,” White relates.

2.     Visualization:

The popularity of sites like Pinterest and Instagram has shown that consumers are interested in images and visualization. This trend is predicted to carry over into email marketing, as well. Images, graphics and photos can all serve as visual aids to add impact to emails.

According to White, recent graphic developments, like special characters in subject lines, are here to stay. In addition, video in email will become much more popular due to new advancements.

“HTML5 video will finally deliver on the video in email experience that marketers have long craved,” he says.

3.     Integration:

Marketing across the various devices and channels available to consumers can give them a new experience with your brand. Messages that link to other social sites, like Facebook and Pinterest, or are accessible across several devices, are well-received, if not expected, by consumers.

If you plan to take advantage of this trend, make sure you present a clear theme that ties all channels and messages together.

The Trend to Follow

As you look at your email marketing strategies are you taking into account these trends? Technology, and most importantly mobile devices, are dictating the future of email campaigns. Are your messages responsive or mobile friendly? Do they engage a reader with a degree of personalization? Are they interesting or visual?

Ask yourself these questions and research how you can best integrate the trends to optimize your email marketing campaign returns.


MZ-ProfilePhoto-XXSMichael Zipursky is an author, consultant and entrepreneur. He is co-founder of the consulting blog, Business Consulting Buzz, a resource center with hundreds of articles and interviews helping consultants to become more successful. Michael is also actively involved with FreshGigs.ca, a jobsite specializing in marketing, communications and creative jobs in Canada. You can connect with Michael on Twitter @MichaelZipursky



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5 Key Factors for Conversion Rate Optimization Success (infograph)

Okay, so this is not about email marketing, but I think it's very relevant for email marketers nonetheless.

The five key ingredients for successful conversion rate optimization are identified in a new report published by Econsultancy and RedEye this week. The research is based on a survey of almost 900 digital marketers carried out in July and August 2012.

Key Findings:

A structured approach and clear responsibility improve website conversion and sales. The other factors most closely correlated with success are usability testing, segmentation and multivariate or A/B (split) testing.

Looking specifically at optimization for mobile visitors, the proportion of organisations designing their websites specifically for mobile phones has increased from 25% to 35% since 2011. The proportion of companies designing their websites specifically for tablets has almost doubled, increasing from 13% in 2011 to 23% this year.

Other key survey findings:

  • Companies with improved conversion in the last 12 months are performing on average 24% more tests and using 26% more methods to improve conversion than companies whose conversion had not improved. 
  • Companies with improved conversion are also using 90% more ways to segment their visitors and customers than companies whose conversion had not improved. 
  • 70% of companies who said they had a structured approach to conversion had improved sales. 
  • Companies that adopt a structured approach are nearly twice as likely to have seen a large increase in sales. 
  • 70% of companies enjoying a large increase in sales said they have a great deal or quite a lot of control over conversion, compared to only 38% of companies which have seen a decrease in sales. 
  • Companies who incentivise staff based on improving conversion rates are nearly twice as likely to have seen a large increase in sales compared to those that didn’t. 

Here are (some of) the results in the form of an infograph:


Get your copy of the Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2012 (Price: 250 euro)

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The State Of Email Marketing In SMBs - 2011 Report

GetResponse just published their latest “The State Of Email Marketing In SMBs. 2011 Report”.

The study analyzes the implementation of the most popular email marketing practices, strategies and trends amongst the SMB marketers.

Key findings

  • The majority of respondents follow best practices and legal compliance regarding the subscription-based lead generation (79% respondents use sign up forms to build lists). 
  • Large number of respondents declare high deliverability rates (62% claim deliverability at 95%), low complaint ratio (69% claim complaints ratio below 0.02%) and effective delivery to major client inboxes (68%). 
  • Most respondents realize the importance of regular mailings (70%), personalization (58%), compelling subject line (68%), and stats analysis (61%). 
  • Only 50% of the researched marketers integrate email with social media channel – a surprisingly low result, given the recent interest in the multi-channel marketing. 

Results by Size  

  • Companies with 0-10 employees 
    This segment got the weakest results in the area of segmentation (32%) and reactivation campaigns (25%). Only 41% include social sharing icons in their newsletters.
  • Companies with 11-250 employees 
    This segment performs best against other companies in contact acquisition via Facebook (82%). However this group has the lowest percentage in delivering newsletters in all major clients inbox (66%)
  • Companies with 250-500 employees 
    This group stands out in using advanced segmentation techniques (72%) and split tests the most (78%). They performed worst, compared to the other groups, in getting their average complaint ratio below 0.2% (only 64%).
  • Companies with more than 500 employees 
    This group definitely stands out in collecting contacts offline, e.g. at tradeshows, stores, using paper sign-up forms (above 75%). Also almost 90% of respondents check and analyze stats on the newsletters they send.

Results by Industry

Publishing and hi-tech are the top-ranking sectors. They are the most advanced in email marketing and in using best practices in their email campaigns. The lowest-ranking are non-profit organizations.

The study was conducted over a period of two weeks: November 14-28, 2011 and researched 600 respondents classified in 4 groups based on the business unit size and in 13 groups based on industry type.

Get the full report.

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Australian Email Marketing Metrics Report

Email open rates for the first half of 2011 averaged 22.47% (Email Marketing Metrics Report Australia by Vision6).

Whilst metrics provide a benchmark for you to compare against, it's important you set your own benchmarks based on the performance of your own email campaigns.

Declining email open rates is a sign you are losing the attention of your subscribers and once you start losing attention, it’s very difficult to get it back.

So here are some practical tips you can apply right now to help improve open rates for your next campaign.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Email Continues To Be An Essential Part Of The Online Marketing Mix

Emailvision released the results of a survey revealing interesting insights regarding perceptions on and use of email as an important part of the marketing mix.  

The research was conducted by Emailvision in November 2011. 700 organizations from 10 countries (UK, US, France, Germany,Spain, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Scandinavia and Switzerland) were surveyed. 

Key findings:

  • Email continues to grow in importance to the overall marketing mix: 89.2% of respondents stated that email remains the same or more important to their overall marketing strategy versus 2 years ago 
  • Customer data is still underutilized: While marketers perceive email as a strong, high-ROI channel, 85% recognize that they are not fully leveraging the available customer data provided by their campaigns 
  • While targeting and personalization are perceived as essential, few are fully implementing them into their campaigns: 97% of survey responders believe these are the most important factors in achieving the best response rates yet only 20% of those questioned said they were personalizing all of the emails they send

Emailvision has found that use of customer intelligence drives up to 30% higher click-through and response rates, in turn increasing ROI for each campaign.

The survey data confirms that marketers are ready to stop sending ‘one size fits all’ campaigns to their entire customer base, realizing that more targeted and relevant online marketing campaigns will increase their success rates.

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Email Still King Of ROI At $40.56 For Every $1 Spent (DMA)

Once again, commercial email is returning vastly more for every dollar spent on it this year than every other marketing channel, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s just-released Power of Direct economic impact study.

Email is bringing in $40.56 for every dollar spent on it this year, according to the DMA. This is compared to catalogs’ ROI of $7.30, search’s return of $22.24, Internet display advertising’s return of $19.72 and mobile’s return of $10.51.

Commercial email is expected to drive $63.1 billion in sales this year, compared to $57.8 billion last year, according to the study.

The DMA projects email to drive $67.8 billion in sales in 2012 and $82.2 billion in sales in 2016.

Source: The Magill Report

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How Many Fields Should Your Forms Have?

The folks over at Eloqua analyzed data from 1500 forms over the last 3 months and found, as I expected, that the less fields asked, the less friction for submission.


Of course, not all forms serve the same purpose:

  • forms offering a trial: max 8 fields
  • forms offering a download: max 11 fields 
  • webinar event registration forms: max 5 fields

Read the full article here

Source: Eloqua

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Behavioural Email Benchmark Study - Key Findings

  • Generally the use of behavioural email is steadily increasing across all sectors (e-retail, insurance, gambling). 
  • Gambling companies seem to be implementing the majority of triggers, with an average 70% using behavioural email across the triggers monitored. Statistically e-retailers are next in line, with an average 46% of e-retailers using behavioural email. The insurance sector is now lagging behind with an average of just 34% implementing behavioural email. 
  • The number of behavioural email triggers implemented within the e-retail sector has increased across all emails monitored. 
  • The welcome email is the most commonly used email, implemented by 90% of gambling companies and 64% of e-retailers. However, 25% of e-retailers do not even offer pre-purchase registration, meaning a welcome email cannot be sent. 
  • Despite a slight increase in use since March 2011, abandoned basket email is still the least used behavioural email. This is unfortunate as based on conversion it can be viewed as the most successful email trigger used by retail clients. 
  • On average retailers receive the highest CTR from using behavioural email
  • Based on conversion the single most successful behavioural email trigger implemented by RedEye clients is the abandoned basket email, this is followed by the saved quote follow up email used by insurance companies.

Download the Behavioural Email Benchmark study here

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Why The Position Of Your Email In The Inbox Is Unimportant

On the EmailVision blog, Tim Watson explains why you shouldn't worry too much about the best time to send an email.  

The answer as to why timing is not so sensitive lies in how people engage and process their email inbox.

In a small poll the folks over at EmailVision ran, 94% of people said that when returning to their inbox they scan ALL new or recent unread emails. This means your position in the inbox is relatively unimportant.

Your email will be scanned for a delete or read decision regardless of whether it's the top email or number 25. Your email will live and die by much stronger factors than time of day such as:

  • Subject line and from name 
  • Content relevance 
  • Previous experience of your emails 
  • Brand loyalty and engagement

Trying to time an email to a 2 to 5 hour slot is relatively unimportant. Your email will be deleted based on the above factors and not whether it was first seen at 10am or 2pm.

More important than time of day timing, is timing with regard to the customer lifecycle. Right message, right person, right time is often quoted. However, time doesn't mean 9am or 10am.

Perfect timing is reaching the customer when they are actively:

  • Identifying a need 
  • Researching options to fulfil a need 
  • Deciding which offer to choose.

Read more here: Campaign send time isn't important 

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Subscribers Eager to Open Daily Deal Emails

February 2011 research from Yahoo! Mail and Ipsos OTX MediaCT found that US adult internet users subscribe to an average of almost three daily or weekly shopping emails or newsletters, and 56% of internet users subscribe to at least two of the emails.

Subscribers also say they regularly read the emails. Among those who subscribe to at least two, 61% said they read all of the messages. And most access the emails at least once a day.



More than six in 10 respondents reported subscribing to more of these emails now than last year, and nearly half were still excited enough about them that they said they “can’t wait” to see the latest deals in the messages.

The survey also found that for most consumers, daily deal emails are appearing in their main inbox. Just 27% of internet users said they had a separate email account for such offers, further reinforcing the perception among subscribers that these emails are desirable and relevant.

Source: eMarketer

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India's first Email Marketing Trends Report

India's first Email Marketing Trends Report shows that Indian average open-rate is around 14-15% and  the average click-to-open rate is  10%.

The major reason for these low averages is the quality of email campaigns being conducted, according to the folks over at Juvlon, an Indian ESP. Apparently many senders in India are still using the medium for distributing what they call "posters" without intending to gauge response.

Apparently, India does not have an opt-in legislation so, this being the case, I'd say that these numbers are pretty much in line with what I'd expect them to be. The only way they can improve these averages is by focusing more on engaging readers, sending them valuable content and offers and move away from batch and blast type of campaigns.

It's a pity they only focussed on click-to-open rate in the report - I would have expected to also see the average click-through rate in this report.

You can download the Indian Email Marketing Trends Report here.

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