Six lessons in email marketing from Click Frenzy’s annual sale

How can businesses avoid customers deleting their emails without reading them? Guest columnist Theo Noel reveals his tips.

Email marketing is a key channel to market for many retailers, but email marketers face big challenges in ensuring that their message is relevant and engaging, and that it doesn’t end up in the spam folder or deleted without even being read.

Australia’s most recognised and successful online sale is Click Frenzy, promoted as ‘The Sale That Stops a Nation’. It offers special deals from premium retail brands in one online marketplace for 24 hours.

Return Path has used its consumer data network to analyse Click Frenzy’s operations to find out what works best in email marketing.
Our report is available here.

A key finding of our analysis was that during Click Frenzy, spam rates were up but delete rates were down: With so many emails being sent during Click Frenzy, the spam rate increased by more than 50%, which meant that many participant’s emails did not reach their intended audience.

Click-frenzy-logo1-366x366But the number of emails deleted without being read actually declined during the event, most likely as a result of the publicity surrounding it. The highest read rates occurred on the day after the sale ended, driven by participating brands sending ‘last chance’ offers.

Further analysis helps us identify email best practice:

Type of Incentive

There are three key types of incentive used by email marketers: ‘dollar amount’, ‘percentage off’ and ‘free shipping’.

Our analysis showed that ‘dollar amount’ and ‘free shipping’ gave the best read rates and that ‘free shipping’ generated the lowest spam and complaint rates.
email-spam-mobile-phone-ThinkstockPhotos-466320125Length of subject line: Most people access emails on mobile devices, where subject lines are cut to around 35 characters. The metrics showed that shorter subject lines (e.g. ‘Heads Up On Click Frenzy’) generate stronger subscriber engagement than longer ones (e.g. ‘Click Frenzy EXTENDED! – Enjoy FREE shipping storewide until midnight tonight!’).

Use pre-headers

A pre-header is short summary text that appears in the email subject line after the main heading. A 35 character subject line is restrictive in communicating offers so using a pre-header to present extra information can be an effective alternative; it keeps the subject line short and to the point, while giving subscribers extra information without the need for them to open the email.

Send on the weekend: In Click Frenzy’s email campaigns, subscriber engagement was greatest over weekends.

That is when consumers generally have more time to review emails, digest content, and act. (Note that the opposite is true with B2B marketing).

Cork, Ireland

Use key words

The use of certain words and phrases can influence subscriber engagement. Emotive, colourful and time-specific keywords can generate improved read rates and lowered complaint rates. One strong word is ‘ends’ (e.g. ‘Offer ends today’), despite the spam rate rising when it is used.

Use CAPS, but sparingly

Capitalising all or part of your subject line may offend some subscribers– it is like shouting at them. The most successful Click Frenzy participants used capitalisation only to draw attention to their offer, by targeting specific words or phrases for emphasis. That’s what works for one-time offers.

A large email icon within a large pink circleBut the real key to email marketing success is keeping customers engaged on a continuing basis. An essential starting point is the sign-up process. Every journey has a beginning, and email marketing is no exception. The sign-up process is the perfect opportunity to make a good first impression and set expectations.

New members should be provided with a clear indication of what emails they will be sent and when.

To further establish trust and provide transparency around future communications, Click Frenzy participants clearly state their third-party share policy and their privacy policy as part of the sign-up process.

Additionally, Click Frenzy uses a double opt-in procedure that requires new subscribers to activate their membership by clicking on a link sent to them. This ensures only valid addresses are added to their membership base, and further adds trust.

This then needs to be followed up with continued engagement throughout the year, by delivering personalised promotional email campaigns to segmented subscribers. Segmentation is important – don’t send everyone the same message.

Frequent buyers might need one message, occasional buyers another. Or males vs females.

Another effective initiative is a ‘reminder to act now’ email, which creates an urgent call to action when an offer is due to expire.

Email marketing is an art as well as a science. But following a few basic principles is a good start.

Theo Noel is regional director, APAC at Return Path, an email data solutions provider


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