Aussie marketers ‘wasting’ email medium with one in five emails going missing

A new report suggests that more than 20 per cent of emails sent by brands to consumers never make it to their target group’s inboxes.

Chairman of the US Direct Marketing Association Matt Blumberg has told Mumbrella the missing emails are hurting Australian marketers.

“Because email is relatively inexpensive people haven’t focused on this problem for a long time. But with one in five emails ‘going dark’ there is a huge opportunity cost to that,” said Blumberg, who is also the CEO of global email intelligence firm Return Path.

“It’s a waste of the customer acquisition expense, waste of email technology expense and customer service expense. So it is a significant challenge for marketers.”

The report prepared by Return Path ahead of Blumberg’s speech to the Australian Data-driven Marketing & Advertising conference this week shows that, of the missing emails, two per cent went to spam while a further 18 per cent went missing or were blocked.

By comparison in New Zealand, 92 per cent of marketing emails reach their target’s inbox, with only 8 per cent going missing.

The research also found that Dodo and Optus subscribers in Australia are the hardest to reach with only 57 per cent of legitimate email delivered to their inboxes.

The report also benchmarked which sectors had the highest read rates and which industries found that readers were deleting emails without being read or were being sent straight to spam.

Unsurprisingly utilities and media emails have some of the highest engagement ratings.

“When you look at utilities you see it has a huge read rate and almost nothing deleted without reading. When you get a bill or a news email you read it,” said Blumberg.

“People sign up to get news and they get news delivered. The product matches expectations the problem is with say real estate or daily deals is that someone was looking for a house or a special once got on a list somewhere and no they’re not in market but are still getting three things a week.”


Blumberg argues that sending too much email too often is causing a significant amount of “collateral damage” to the sector and returning engagement with email as marketing tool.

“If you send more email you usually get more back in terms of clicks, more page views and more conversions but there is a huge amount of collateral damage you cause by sending too much to people who don’t want it.”

He argues marketers need to be more intelligent about the way they send email and recognise trends like the growth of email on mobile.

“You can use big data to drive your email program and most marketers still think it is a law of large numbers. When actually you can get more by sending a lot less,” he said.

“Marketers who are using big data need to understand what device people are looking at an email on. The same person who is looking at an email on their handheld in the morning, will be at their desktop in the day, and their iPad at night and you can do an awful lot to target email if you are paying attention to usage patterns.”

Blumberg points to key trends such as the 300 per cent growth in mobile email usage as something that marketers need to take into account.

“Email went through ten or 12 years where nothing interesting happened as an industry, there was more and more of it but it hadn’t evolved,” he said.

“In the last two to three year there has been more innovation in the email sector and capital flowing into startups and creating a better consumer experience than I have seen in 15 years.”

He also argues that technologies such as movable ink which updates after the email is sent or critical email messaging will change the way the medium is used.

“There a variety of new services coming up that will make email better and better… there are products like AwayFind that helps you get email through channels when its critical.”

“Typically email is a pretty static thing. But technologies like movableink takes different elements of an email and targets them based on different variables such as geolocation, time of day and device type.”

“It makes sure the email is relevant to me.”

The study tracked the delivery, blocking and filtering rates for campaigns that used the Inbox Monitor seed list system. Return Path also looked at the read rate, spam folder placement rate, and messages deleted without reading rate across 500 Australian brands.

Nic Christensen


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