Newsflash: Brand Matters in Email

recent DMA Report, “The Integration of DM and Brand,” makes the case
that brand and direct marketing are converging—where direct marketers
are building brand value and brand marketers are influencing sales.
(The report surveyed 296 marketers, 56% of whom combine direct and mass
marketing and 44% just do direct marketing.)

I believe that email is one of the channels where this line is blurred
most—in a really good and powerful mix that benefits marketers and
subscribers. In fact, it benefits marketers BECAUSE it benefits
subscribers! But that is a future blog post.

In the survey, nearly 70% of brand marketers rate personalization as
having a positive or strong positive effect on brand and 64% rate
targeting as having a positive or strong positive effect.

Clearly, these two methods—personalization and targeting—are keys to
creating relevance in email, and the smart marketers who employ them to
build satisfying and engaging email experiences for their subscribers
enjoy higher response and ROI. Recently, a client added personalization
to their email program and found that it boosted customer response by
6%, but dropped prospect response by 5% (and boosted prospect
unsubscribe rates by 2%). Wow. That is pretty powerful—and really
illustrates that when the subscriber has a relationship with your
brand, customization and a personal approach are very powerful. When
the prospect didn’t have a relationship with the brand, the intimacy
assumed by the marketer bombed.

In fact, Return Path surveys show
that brand and the subject line are the two of the most influential
reasons why a subscriber decides to open and email. More so, it’s not
just that particular email or the fact that the subscriber knows the
brand, it’s the fact that the email program itself has value—the brand
of the email program (what we at Return Path call “prior value”)
matters most. In that 3–5 second decision to open or delete, the brand
value of your email program—that you’ve sent me email in the past that
was interesting, helpful and relevant—is what drives the open.

Brand matters in email, but it doesn’t trump relevancy.