Having received a copy of the 8th annual dotmailer benchmark report (my gift, brought back from this years Magento Live Conference) I decided to tackle the 250-page monster head on!
Dotmailer, the company responsible for putting together the humungous report, are an email marketing software and marketing automation platform. Every year they look to evaluate the email marketing efforts of a sample of international retailers.
However, the difference this year is that they’ve gone bigger and better than ever before. Not only have they extended the number of brands to include 100 global retailers but they’ve also employed an advanced scoring mechanism that measures brand customer experience – cool stuff 🙂
The top ‘winners’ from the report have been taken from a total of 9 different sectors:
So let’s take a look. While the report deals with 100 retailers, we’ve selected the top 6 to showcase the best in the business when it comes to email marketing and multichannel experience:
First up, top of the dotmailer tree was ASOS, founded in 2002, this international brand is aimed at the twenty-something market, offering its customers a diverse range of brands.
There is so much right with ASOS and first up, it’s their welcome email! The emails are segmented and gender-specific, which is crucial to a happy and engaged customer base. Driving engagement further, ASOS also utilise ‘hook-offers’ well, offering 10% off a first purchase.
For all other correspondences, ASOS have been clever. Nobody wants annoying reminders, but for this brand, they keep their customers switched on, engaged and in the ASOS loop at all times, by sending abandoned cart reminders that are not just practical but are also memorable pieces of fun and engaging content. They also prominently feature their own social channels, hoping to keep consumers engaged across all their platforms and on as many fronts as possible.
They’re also smashing their newsletters, which is tricky. In the fast-paced world, we live in, you’re lucky to get someone to open an email, let alone read the content. However, ASOS are in with a shot, as by using relevant animated GIF’s, playful copy and category specific offers, they’re catering to the needs of their modern audience, by informing and not boring!
The report really did struggle to find much fault with ASOS. The only theme they picked up on was the absence of a feedback request form, that is sure to enhance customer engagement and make the consumer feel more valued by the brand.
Second for dotmailer were American multinational consumer electronics corporation Best Buy. Founded over 50 years ago in 1966 and with over 1,500 stores in North America, they’re big players.
The key for Best Buy is connectivity and multifunctionality by having everything on offer, in one place. They achieved this by combining their welcome email with a chance to sign up to their ‘Deal of the Day Newsletter’, which gives their customers every opportunity to be informed by the brand.
The theme of functionality continues on in their website. For dotmailer, the transparency and ease of the drop down menu make site navigation stress-free and simple. However, as well as making it easier for customers to locate products they also help their customers to make more informed purchases, by populating the areas around their online items with customer reviews to assist with buying.
Their product ‘set-up’ guides are an additional bonus mentioned by the benchmark report. They showcase a level of customer care on behalf of the brand, which provides more incentive for sale.
By pinpointing their core, engaged customer base, they’re not wasting their time and energy on an audience who don’t appreciate that engagement. This allows Best Buy to concentrate on nurturing their engaged audience, whilst also finding new people to target.
Their abandon cart rate abilities are also worth a mention. By getting in there, in a timely and prompt manner, with reminders and alternative product recommendations based on customer interest, they’re able to capture their audience before they’re gone, on to the next thing.
The only real improvements, as suggested by the dotmailer report is a more prominent ‘unsubscribe’ link on their emails. Currently, it is buried at the bottom, in an incredibly small font. This doesn’t help to create a mutual relationship between consumer and business.
Founded 68 years ago in 1949, British supermarket retailer Asda and its subdivision George clothing, are the next contenders in the dotmailer benchmark list.
Just like ASOS, Asda has a clearly filtered gender specific segmentation to their emails, ensuring their audience is receiving relevant, appropriate content to keep them engaged. In combination with this, their light-hearted, attention-grabbing subject lines are also big hitters for dotmailer.
With more people than ever, using mobile and tablet devices to interact with websites, the ASDA site being wholly responsive, including features such as mobile responsive templates and GIF’s that automatically resize – is only going to increase customer interactivity.
Just like Best Buy, ASDA are operating an effective follow-up email operation with its customers. Sending these emails just after browsing is timely and ensures that ASDA doesn’t lose out on converting customer business.
However, unlike some of the other contenders in this dotmailer report, Asda offer repeated feedback request email, which not only helps ASDA gain valuable insight into their business model but also ensures that customers feel satisfied with the customer service the supermarket offer.
Once again, just the same as Best Buy, Asda also exercise an impressive information architecture, making it easier for the user to locate items and ensure a smooth customer journey across the site. In combination with this, the product pages with real customer reviews and QA’s mirror that of Best Buy and help the customer to make informed, confident decisions about the items they’re buying.
In the dotmailer report top 6 we featured in this post, ASDA are the only business whose customer service was plucked out as an example of excellence. Not only is it good on their own site, but also off-site and on its own social channels.
On the downside, while Asda operates a successful email segmentation programme, it’s still not 100% there. Dotmailer mentions that segment unsubscribing options between the main email list and George email list are not available. So it’s all or nothing, which just doesn’t work for today’s consumer – everyone wants to tailor their own experience.
Easyjet has been around for a relatively short amount of time. Founded in 1995, they’re a low-cost, budget airline company, based in London and operate domestic and international scheduled flights, to more than 30 countries.
What’s clear about the EasyJet brand message is that the consumer is at the heart of the focus. This is evident in their customised content and the ‘Let’s Talk About You’ call-to-action segment in their welcome email. This is a promising start for any consumer.
Just like Asda and Best Buy with their easy navigation, for the type of site that Easy Jet are – they’ve made it equally easy for their consumers by pre-filling the search box with a user’s local airport, giving customers a sense of familiarity. This is the same with their cross-sell content – about hotels, destination and advice on preparing for their trip. It helps the user undertake a stress-free journey.
Their follow-up emails, with useful travel info and packing tips, is also something EasyJet are doing to, go the extra mile for their consumers 😉
Peace of mind is so crucial to the consumer when undertaking a flight. This is why offering an email the day before a flight with reminders about live flight updates is useful. It’s also a clever business move, as this email service is are only available with the EasyJet app.
Just the same as Asda and Best Buy, they’ve utilised abandon search, sending emails to consumers with notifications of saved searches and special offers, ensuring their consumer stay engaged with the business and give them a taste of holiday they could be enjoying.
Surprisingly, they don’t provide a customer feedback form for flights. This is a huge area of marketing that they’re missing out on. Generating statistics from feedback reports could be used for web and email content to persuade customers to shop with them.
Founded in 1864, John Lewis are an upmarket department store chain, who offer a unique opportunity to its employees by making them shareholders in the business.
Just like the ASOS welcome email, the John Lewis welcome email summarises all the special offers and benefits you can gain as a consumer through their various programmes. As well as this, they engage with the consumer by establishing relationship expectations, as well as encouraging the consumer to tailor content to make it as relevant to them as possible.
John Lewis, much like Best Buy, boast a seamless shopping experience. Their website makes it simple to search, browse and buy on any device. With an optimised website they’ve made it easier to convert sales.
The brand has also placed consumer transparency at the heart of its business plan. In John Lewis confirmation emails, they’ve detailed full company returns information to ensure that consumer stays in the loop.
Like most major retailers featured in the dotmailer report, John Lewis has also utilised email segmentation, tailoring content to the consumer’s interest which is more likely to result in a sale.
However, far from unfaltering perfection, the report suggested one change that John Lewis can make. This is probably one of the most important changes that any eCommerce business can make to their checkout. Unlike ASOS and many other brands, JL doesn’t offer a guest checkout option which offers increased simplicity and the consumer, a choice. Not all users what to sign-up there and then, so guest check-out is better than no check out at all.
American, multi-channel, speciality fashion retailer and lifestyle brand J. Crew Group, were founded in 1983. They offer an assortment of women’s, men’s and children’s apparel and accessories.
Although number 6 on the list, we found J. Crew to be pushing boundaries other retailers have not yet even contemplated. Engaging content found in their welcome emails consisting of inspirational quotes from the company creative director and encouragement to explore site, pop to a local store, sign up for monthly printed style guides or bookmark the website are all new calls-to-action features not seen in this dotmailer list.
Humanising their brand is innovative and encourages engagement from the consumer, as they can relate to what they’re seeing. By sending a ”staff picks” emails, featuring real employees and placing the customer at the centre ‘Your Style Stories’ allows customers to share fashion tips in a blog-type format.
Like most retailers in this list, J. Crew have realised it takes more than one email to get customers to sit-up and take notice. They also know that it takes snappy and playful copy to get customers to actually engage with the reminder emails.
Dotmailer improvements include better segmentation techniques, which are a must have, to ensure J.Crew are aiming content at the right gender, to increase more targeted sales. The absence of a feedback form is also damaging to potential custom, as it doesn’t allow consumers to express a negative or positive opinion, making them feel like their voice is not being heard.
Rounding off, it’s clear that these brands really know their stuff when it comes to email marketing! They all seem to be doing similar things but in their own unique ways that fit in with their business models. Whether it’s email segmentation or engaging copy – staying true to a brand message, tone, consumer base as well as keeping it consistent across all your channels, is crucial.