5 Takeaways from The 2014 Science of Email Report

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The email marketing world is constantly evolving: subscriber preferences change, support for HTML and CSS is added (or removed, as was the case with Outlook.com and margins!), and email clients change the way we manage our inboxes. It’s up to us as marketers and designers to stay up on these trends to ensure that we’re putting our best email foot forward.

We recently worked with HubSpot to look at trends in the email marketing industry. These trends aren’t meant to be a measurement bar to compare your email marketing efforts against; rather they aim at inspiring you to test and optimize your campaigns. After all, there are no one-size-fits-all techniques and best practices that work across the board when it comes to email.

Together with HubSpot’s email team, we looked at attitudes towards marketing, the effective components of emails, and email open data across nearly a half a billion marketing emails, six million one-to-one emails, and over a thousand survey participants. What did we find? Here’s a quick preview:

Two-thirds of those surveyed prefer to receive mostly image-based marketing emails, rather than mostly text emails. Keep in mind that many email clients block images by default. As a result, it’s important to use images-off optimization techniques like ALT text, bulletproof buttons, and a background colors.

How often do people buy product or services from email messages they’ve received? Thirty-five percent of respondents said they never buy from emails—which is a 40% increase since 2011 when the same question was asked. This doesn’t mean that email marketing has become less effective—it just means that you need to be more strategic when it comes to interacting with your subscribers.

What do subscribers do when they receive an unwanted commercial email? Over 68% reported they would delete the email, 58% stated that they would unsubscribe, and 49% declared that they would mark the email as spam. While it’s reassuring for marketers that subscribers would delete or unsubscribe before marking an email as spam, it’s still not ideal. That’s why it’s crucial to send relevant, useful emails to your subscribers.

Where do subscribers most frequently open their emails? 39% of subscribers open email on iOS devices (iPhone and iPad). This is great news for email designers since iOS has great CSS and HTML support. However, Outlook and Gmail hold the number two and four spots, respectively, in the top 10—both of those clients have lots of rendering quirks and inconsistencies. As a result, it’s important to test your emails before you send!

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