What email marketing skills can retailers learn from the strong performance of the travel industry?

Travel brands see higher open rate and click-through-rate than other industry verticals, while retailers have the lowest mean unique open rates, according to a new industry study from Silverpop, an IBM company.

2015 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study analyzed 3,000 global brands throughout 2014. The research shows that lodging, travel agencies and services see the highest unique open rate (56.7 percent) while that number for the retail and e-commerce vertical is just 6.6 percent. Travel agencies and services also have a much higher CTR than the retail and e-commerce vertical.


Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop, thinks the strong performance of the travel industry can be ascribed to three factors: curiosity, exploration and obsession.

"When people are curious and want to explore more, they are more likely to open and further click through received emails," McDonald explains. "Travel is about discovery. When you sign up for an email from either a resort or a cruise line, you are showing your interest. And many travel emails like those I got from Delta offer discounted deals that encourage you to travel more."

He continues that the retail and e-commerce vertical missed the mark because they still rely on traditional batch-and-blast methods, which lack the personalization that today's consumers demand.

"Years ago, most retailers sent out just a couple of broadcast emails per week. But now, most retailers are sending out four, five or more generic emails a day," he says. "This approach works in some way because more the emails they send out, the more sales they may get. But the downside is they could drive lots of customers away over the long run."

McDonald thinks what retailers can learn (Read more...) the travel industry is, breaking up their "buy, buy, buy" email marketing approach with content designed to educate and inspire email recipients. For example, instead of just promoting its products, a baking flour company can put recipes, how-to blog posts and video links into emails to help solve pain points along the customer journey.

In addition to a cross-industry analysis of email marketing, the report also shows that nearly three out of every four customers open their transactional emails, such as an order, subscription or shipping update as well as a webinar confirmation. According to McDonald, transactional emails usually see high open rate, CTR and engagement rate. Therefore, smart brands are looking to leverage transactional emails to drive either brand value or digital purchases. For example, they can add cross-sell or upsell content to transactional messages, recommending related products.

They can also leverage transitional messages' high engagement to deliver a better consumer experience. For example, a company can include a link to a post or video in an email receipt so that consumers can get the most value of the product.

"I think that's really an untapped area, and that's the opportunity with transactional messages," McDonald says.

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