Why ‘spray and pray’ email marketing tactics fail to retain customers

90 per cent of UK consumers have unsubscribed from retailer comms in the past year because of shoddy email marketing tactics.

In 1978, Gary Thuerk, also known as the father of spam, sent out the first mass email to around 400 prospective clients. This pre-internet form of communication ultimately generated $13 million in sales for his company, Digital Equipment Corporation, and demonstrated the potential of what he then referred to as ‘e-marketing). As email marketing evolved alongside the prevalence of email and the rise of the internet, users began blocking out irrelevant content with filters and spam blockers. In order to effectively communicate a message through email, marketers had to develop a way of pushing content through to the end-user, without being blocked out by these filters. This resulted in the birth of triggered marketing emails, which are sent to specific users based on their tracked online browsing patterns.

But just how effective are these campaigns? Have marketeers finally cracked the code?

According a new research from Engage Hub, retail marketers are still clinging on to a ‘spray and pray’ email marketing strategy that are driving consumers into hands of competitors. 90 per cent of UK consumers have unsubscribed from communications from retailers in the past 12 months, with nearly half saying this is because they received too many messages from brands.

In the study, a third of respondents said they were unhappy with the frequency they receive offers or updates from retailers. Nearly a quarter of UK consumers revealed they receive them from some retailers at least once every day, while 15 per cent said they receive offers even more frequently than that.

As well as receiving too many messages, nearly a quarter of UK consumers said they unsubscribed from a retailer because the messages they received were irrelevant to them. In fact, 15 per cent said retailers never send them offers or updates that are relevant to them.

According to the research, this has a significant impact for retailers given that one in 10 UK consumers would consider shopping elsewhere if they continued to receive irrelevant communications from a retailer, while 68 per cent would simply unsubscribe.

“Retailers need to change tact. Poorly targeted, ‘spray and pray’ style marketing campaigns generate the most spam complaints, and the majority of such communications remain unopened. This not only undermines a retailer’s spend on direct marketing ROI but also it also turns customers away as they quickly become disengaged with a brand that doesn’t treat them as an individual,” Simon Brennan, VP sales, Europe at Engage Hub said.

“Modern marketing is increasingly reliant on harnessing real-time data to drive more meaningful, memorable and effective conversations with customers. Retailers, therefore, need to focus on crafting contextual, highly personalised content that draws the customer in, rather than making them hit the delete button or mark it as spam. And this is where leveraging data, from transactions and interactions that customers have already had with a brand, proves invaluable. Having a holistic view of subscribers, by consolidating CRM data and marketing activity across multiple channels, will ensure consumers aren’t bombarded with irrelevant messaging.”

The personal touch

The Engage Hub research also found that consumers want more personalised content within the messages they receive from retailers. 46 per cent of UK consumers said they would be more encouraged to click through to purchase if promotional offers were tailored to their likes and dislikes, indicating that there is a level of personal information they are willing to share if asked.

There were a number of other factors that would encourage consumers to click through to purchase on communications, including the timing of a communication and offers tailored to the consumer’s location. Nearly a fifth of respondents said they would also be more encouraged to click through to purchase if offers were sent to them via their preferred channel of communication.

Communication channel of choice

Email was considered as the channel of choice for the majority of UK consumers, social media following closely behind. But there are notable differences for some key demographics. For example, older consumers (over 65 years of age) prefer emails over social media or company apps, while the converse is true for those between 18 and 24.

“Messages tailored to a customer’s location alone isn’t enough. Personalisation based on the whole customer profile is essential to maximise real time location-based customer engagement and marketing messages. By bringing real time demographic data, location triggers, channel preferences and behavioural information into one single platform, marketers, customer services and IT teams can work collaboratively to manage information better.”

“While email remains dominant, there are clear indications that the younger demographic is shifting preference to other less traditional means of communication. Identifying the right channel to engage with consumers is as big a factor as the content of a message itself, and that needs to be based on insight into customer preferences,”Brennan added. “This level of personalisation in customer engagement goes a long way towards building and reaffirming the customer-brand relationship in an age when loyalty is not guaranteed.”

See also: Marketing emails getting stuck in the spam filter? Tips on getting through the net

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

Related Topics

Email Marketing