Brands and retailers are sending using email marketing than ever. In fact, they sent 19.8% more messages in Q3 2016 than they did in Q3 2015, according to Experian research. So, is it working? Well not exactly…

This inbox inundation has directly impacted consumer perception and overall engagement. In fact, 50% of consumers told Retail TouchPoints that they receive nine or more emails from retailers each week, but 37% said they don’t open any of them. That’s not what brands want to hear.

But it isn’t just email frequency that’s ailing brands today, it’s email relevance. According to the Retail TouchPoints research, only 5% of consumers said nearly all emails they receive from brands and retailers are relevant, timely and compelling. Segmentation and retargeting can help brands concoct a perfect email campaign, but few are truly harnessing these capabilities.

L2 investigated the ways brands are implementing segmentation and retargeting. Analyzing 81 brands, L2 discovered that only 14% have optimized email strategies fully (with above-average open rates and above-average frequency). Conversely, 63% of brands have “poorly optimized strategies with subpar open rates, indicating significant room for improvement across brands and sectors.”

By comparing the number of campaigns a brand creates with its overall open rate, L2 was able to characterize the following brands as “email savvy”:

  • Apple
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Forever 21
  • Nordstrom
  • Samsung
  • Sephora
  • Walmart

Want to be email savvy, too? There are four things you need to do:

1. Segment your audience: The more granular you can get, the better. According to L2’s analysis, campaigns sent to less than 25% of a brand’s total email list drive an average open rate of 25%. Campaigns sent to larger segments only garner an average open rate of 21%.

netflix, frank, underwood, house of cards email, house of cards, claire, francis underwood, binge watch, emailAlthough not a traditional retailer, Netflix does a great job at using email to promote new films, television shows and Netflix-exclusive content. What makes these campaigns so powerful, though, is the fact that they’re only sent to people who have viewed similar or complementary content on the app. This email takes it a step further by sending a direct message from Frank Underwood (ya know, the fictional president played by Kevin Spacey in House of Cards). The note includes a trailer for the newest season and has a very personal tone. The best part is that I actually received this email as a forward from a friend, not from Netflix itself. Why? Because I’m not a loyal House of Cards viewer. But my friend thought it was so cool that she couldn’t resist sharing it. Now that’s an effective email.

2. Personalize subject lines: L2 considers this to be a quick and cost-effective tactic that also drives open rates. Even shoppers agree: 51% said they are inspired to open brand emails if subject lines feature brands or products they’re interested in, according to Retail TouchPoints research.

This subject line from Williams Sonoma definitely caught my attention. “Verified! You Might Be Interested in Savings On Le Creuset Favorites.”

I recently browsed their e-commerce site and, more specifically, looked at the retailer’s assortment of Le Creuset products. I have a lasagna pan that I adore and am eager to add to my collection. After seeing the prices, I quickly closed out the window. A few days later, I received this email, which not only spotlighted a timely sale, but also focused on Le Creuset. Many brands interpret personalization as simply adding a consumer’s name to an email’s subject line, but it is far more nuanced than that. It’s about using relevant data, such as browsing and purchase behaviors, and even brand affinities, to create more tailored messages.

3. Trigger a reaction: Email triggers and reminders are a great way to stay top of mind with your consumers. L2 notes in the report that the abandoned cart email is a tried-and-true component of any email marketing strategy. These emails offer consumers friendly reminders of what they’ve browsed in the past and give them an instant connection to the product through buy buttons or call-to-actions. Similar email reminders, or triggers, include price-drop emails and low-inventory emails.

Take this email from Overstock as a great example. I was recently browsing on the e-commerce site to find some pillows for my new living room set. There was a killer sale happening so I eagerly added a bunch of items to my cart. After some careful thought, I decided I needed more time to browse. After a few days, I received this email: a perfect abandoned cart message. The subject line creates a strong sense of urgency using FOMO. Then, Overstock cuts to the chase by calling out that the pillows I had in my digital cart are almost out of stock. The clean, streamlined design calls out other content that’s critical for me to make a decision: sale price, product ratings and, of course, a direct link to each product.

4. Use Content To Connect And Convert

The best practices offered by L2 reaffirm the importance of great content. Without relevant and compelling copy, imagery and offers, your brand’s campaigns will quickly blend in with the slew of other emails in your shoppers’ inbox. Use the above tactics to develop a strong foundation, and incorporate lookbooks, blogs, product reviews and even user-generated content to see how your audience responds. With time and more testing, you’ll have a perfect formula for creating emails that connect and convert.

And if you want to bring your email game to the next level, add powerful user-generated content (UGC) to your email blasts. Replacing your somewhat uptight, brand-approved images with photos and videos from real people — your customers, fans and even influencers — you can create more authentic emails that show your products (and your brand) in context. Not only will these emails inspire your customers, it’ll drive them to make the next step in their shopping journeys in your stores or on your website.

How can you implement that? Parter with Curalate to include shoppable UGC in email newsletters. One major shoe retailer did that recently and saw a 3x improvement in revenue, 82% increase in transactions and a 126% increase in conversion rate.

Curalate helps more than 800 of the world’s leading brands sell online more effectively by creating compelling commerce experiences that adapt to how consumers discover products. On average, our clients achieve: 79% increases in time-on-site, 16% jumps in average order value and 31% increases in conversion rate.

What can Curalate do for your business? Contact us to find out.