Top Email Marketing Benchmarks of 2017 (and How to Do Better in 2018)

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In a few short days, we’ll be starting another email marketing year. But before we do that, let’s first look back at 2017 and see how well email marketers collectively performed. Even more importantly, let’s use these email marketing benchmarks as guideposts to do better in the upcoming year.

Today’s blog entry compiles key 2017 email marketing benchmarks from Delivera, MailChimp, Inbox Marketer, and SignUp.to. The numbers cited here describe 2017’s email marketing campaigns in terms of oepns, clicks, bounces, and other metrics, plus some actionable tips to help you improve in each category. Let’s dive right in.

 

Opens

While there’s some variation in the actual number, our data sources all seem to agree on the average email marketing open rates in 2017:

  • The average open rate is 31.92% for all industries (Delivera).
  • On average, overall open rate was recorded at 24.79% (SignUp.to)
  • Open rates increase to 28.8%, up from 25.9% in the past year (Inbox Marketer).
  • On a per-industry level, open rates ranged from 15.2% to 28.4% and averaged 21.8% (MailChimp)

This year, the following tactics resulted in better-than-average open rates:

  • Subject lines less than 50 characters long resulted in 58% open rate (Adestra).
  • The open rate for personalized emails is 1.4 times higher than generic ones (Statista).
  • Segmentation results in 14.3% higher open rates (MailChimp).

 

Click-Throughs

In two of the references we used, the findings indicate overall higher click-through rates for the year (although the number widely varied):

  • Overall, CTRs incrementally increased by 0.8 percentage points, averaging 5.8% (Inbox Marketer).
  • Average CTRs across all sectors were reported to be 3.57 percent (Delivera).
  • CTRs came in at 4.19% for all industries (SignUp.to).
  • Depending on the industry, CTRs ranged between 1.25% to 5.13%, averaging 2.62% (MailChimp).

Here’s how email best practices enhanced CTRs of email campaigns:

  • Trigger emails generate 2x higher CTRs than traditional emails (Super Office).
  • CTRs for segmented emails are more than 8x higher than non-segmented emails (Super Office).
  • Subject line personalization improves CTRs by 17.36% (MarketingSherpa).

 

Click-to-Open

While CTRs measure the number of clicks over the number of emails sent, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) expresses the number of clicks as a percentage of the total opens. That’s why CTOR is a better gauge of email engagement.

SignUp.to finds that average CTOR is around 11.88% (SignUp.to). Meanwhile, Smart Insights recommends aiming for a CTOR between 10% to 15%. If your campaign is underperforming in terms of click-to-opens, follow the below tips:

  • Write short and clear subject lines.
  • Keep your copy between 50 to 125 words long.
  • Make sure your call-to-action (CTA) stands out.
  • Close with a specific option and end with gratitude.

 

Hard Bounces

Email marketers remain very effective at keeping hard bounces in check. According to Inbox Manager, bounce rates remain low at just 0.9% across all industries in 2017.

MailChimp’s industry-level email marketing benchmarks report shows that hard bounce rates vary from industry to industry, with a minimum of 0.7% and a maximum of 1.2%.

To keep your hard bounce rates within acceptable limits, try out the following:

Use a double opt-in list signup method

Keep your list spotlessly clean

Verify each contact in your list

Work with a data scrubbing and maintenance company

 

Conclusion

While averages and aggregate numbers give us a quick way to compare and evaluate our campaigns, keep in mind that these headline values oftentimes don’t tell the whole story. That’s why we need to go past these top-level email marketing benchmarks to find out what’s really going on. In that sense, the best reference metrics will always be your own campaign results.

Happy New Year!

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

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The holiday season is in full swing. Aside from crowded stores and endless checkout lines, the inbox gets particularly busy this time of year, too. In fact, people receive 1.5 times more promotional emails during the holidays than at any other period. This brings all sorts of email deliverability issues that can drag down campaign performance.

As Kevin Senne over at Oracle Marketing Cloud explains, ISPs tend to tighten their grip on incoming mail during the holidays. That’s because mailbox providers slow down the rate of email arrivals to deal with the seasonal deluge. Naturally, this throttling has an effect on both if and when emails reach a recipient’s inbox.

While these email deliverability issues largely bother senders of promotional emails, every marketer who wants to get in touch with prospects or customers during the holidays isn’t immune from these problems.

That’s why we searched the Web for practical tips and best practices to help you avoid holiday-induced deliverability headaches. Let’s take a look at what we learned:

 

  1. Keep your list spotlessly clean

As you’re making your email list, and checking it twice, you might want to have someone recheck it thrice. The first step to your recipients’ inbox starts with the list. Squeaky-clean lists help keep email deliverability issues at bay.

That’s because clean lists tend to give you lower bounce rates, which in turn improve your sender reputation. The better your reputation becomes (in the eyes of ISPs), the better your deliverability gets.

While there’s no shortage of tools and techniques you can use to do some D.I.Y. list cleaning, most sources we dug up strongly recommend working with a third-party data cleaning service provider for best results.

 

  1. Stick to your current sending IP address

If you’re thinking that switching over to a new IP address will give you better deliverability for your holiday campaigns, then you’re in for some very rude awakening. Deliverability expert Return Path cautions against changing your sending IP address, especially during the holiday season.

Using a brand new IP does let you start out with a blank slate, but it’s going to take a while to “warm up” a fresh address and earn the trust of ISPs. Building your sender reputation from scratch isn’t going to happen overnight, and the process will be much longer during the holidays when throttling and stricter spam filters are in place.

 

  1. Watch your mailing frequency

Return Path also warns email marketers not to abruptly increase their sending frequency in the run up to and during the holidays. The biggest mailbox providers keep a close eye on any sudden spikes in send-out rates, slowing down or stopping incoming mails from senders who step on the gas too quickly. In many cases, this can permanently harm sender reputation.

To avoid potential email deliverability issues from sending out too much mail during the holidays, most references we found suggest consistently maintaining your usual email frequency. Other sources also point out that, if you really want to increase your email volume, you need to slowly and gradually increase your frequency over several weeks ahead of the holidays.

 

  1. Wear your authentication badge at all times

Another way to improve deliverability is to use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication. These are tools that tell ISPs you’re someone they can trust. While enabling these items won’t guarantee deliverability (nothing does), they’re a crucial component of building and maintaining a good sender reputation.

As marketing automation provider Real Magnet describes, these three authentication systems allow you to improve your emails’ deliverability and credibility. They implement protocols that verify your domain as the sender, which is something that affects ISPs’ decisions to accept or reject incoming mail.

Enabling all three tools helps guarantee your emails make it into the inbox, as well as protect your emails from spoofing.

 

  1. Focus on the recipient, not the campaign

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other mailbox providers use engagement metrics (opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, etc.) to determine if your email should end up in the inbox or spam folder.

That’s why avoiding email deliverability issues also means improving how your emails engage your readers. From the subject down to the closing, your email needs actionable copy and compelling design.

We went over some effective tips to write engaging emails in a previous blog entry. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA
  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

With these steps, your holiday email campaign will surely minimize, if not avoid, email deliverability issues. From the ContactDB team:

Happy Holidays!

What Will Appointment Setting Services Look Like in 2018?

What Will Appointment Setting Services Look Like in 2018?

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B2B marketing continues to evolve. That, of course, barely registers as news. What’s really interesting is that, this time, the trends reshaping marketing are starting to impact traditional outbound strategies, including finding and booking sales meetings. If you’re looking to partner with a third-party appointment setting services provider in 2018, here’s what you should expect next year.

Generating leads and appointments still rank as the top challenge that B2B marketers face. That’s why B2B marketers allocate the bulk of their budget increase to prospecting activities. With more than two-thirds of marketers claiming they’re unable to consistently connect with high-quality prospects, a significant number of organizations plan to outsource at least part of their prospecting program.

This makes appointment setting a prime area for marketers to consider. But marketing itself has now changed so much that even appointment setting doesn’t look like what it did just a couple of years ago. Prospecting continues its steady march toward adopting pull tactics as more B2B buyers chart their own course in the purchase journey.

This means that an outsourced appointment setting services partner should deliver prospecting solutions that help you keep up with the times. At a bare minimum, here are four things you should expect from a reputable provider:

 

Account-Based

Account-based marketing (ABM) is gaining traction among marketers. In a nutshell, ABM strategies focus on targeting only a few organizations with the highest likelihood of turning into customers, rather than directing marketing efforts at huge numbers of target companies. It’s like fishing with a spear instead of casting a net.

A reputable appointment setting services company gives you ABM capabilities on top of personalized and targeted prospecting. They tailor campaigns based on an account’s characteristics, which is a step closer to the much sought-after “segment of one”. ABM-enabled appointment setting services target entire org charts of key decision-makers from target accounts, connecting with every person involved in the buying process within a single company.

 

Automated Prospecting

As much as 7 in 10 companies currently use some kind of marketing automation platform (MAP). That’s because MAPs boost lead generation for 80% of marketers and improve conversions for 77% of users. Companies rely on MAPs so much that, as a percentage of revenues, spending on marketing automation now outweighs other IT expenditures.

Appointment setting services that leverage automated prospecting use proven tools to rank leads and follow up on opportunities with minimal human intervention. This frees up their marketing and sales specialists to work on more value-added activities in your campaign such as live conversations with decision-makers. Automated prospecting accelerates one of the most time-consuming components of marketing and makes it more efficient and productive.

 

Data-First

Around 42% of marketers blame poor data quality as the main reason why prospecting campaigns tend to underperform, while about half point the finger at bad data for their MAP’s failure to deliver decent returns. In addition, marketers think they don’t have access to detailed data on prospect behavior and intent, which can help refine their targeting accuracy and enrich segmentation.

Any third-party appointment setting agency should (at the very least) transparently describe their data validation and enrichment processes. You want appointment setting services that let you target, track, and test all aspects of a prospecting campaign. It’s no longer enough to be data-driven, it’s now about being data-first.

 

Experience-Led

Adobe finds that tech marketers prioritize “customer experience and being experience-led” for 2017. This pretty much sums up the trends influencing today’s prospecting strategies in the B2B space. Appointment setting now requires not only a multichannel approach, but also an omnichannel mindset. The difference is that multichannel strategies tend to revolve around marketers’ perspective, while omnichannel takes the entire customer (current or potential) experience into account.

Omnichannel appointment setting services goes beyond integrating different marketing channels to engage prospects. They weave the entire buyer journey into a coherent process for you and your target leads.

So, be on the lookout for these four qualities. These form the baseline for “good” appointment setting services. Make sure that a potential marketing partner meets all four characteristics.

6 Handy B2B Marketing Services to Outsource in 2018

6 Handy B2B Marketing Services to Outsource in 2018

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We’re well within the last quarter of 2017, and most of you are probably already making the final touches to next year’s marketing plan. If your strategy involves working with a B2B marketing services provider but you’re not sure which marketing initiatives to outsource and which ones to keep in-house, we’ve got you covered. This post goes over six potential areas in your marketing program that an agency can help you out with.

Outsourcing part of your marketing efforts to a reputable third-party agency brings tremendous advantages. When you place specific marketing tactics at the hands of experts, you get better results at practically lower cost. In fact, outsourced B2B marketing services outperform in-house activities by as much as 43% in terms of productivity.

So which activities should you let an agency do for you? Here’s a list of six possible B2B marketing services to outsource next year:

 

  1. PPC

Pay-per-click tactics remain one of those things in marketing that sound simple in theory but are really hard to nail down in practice. It’s very easy for inexperienced marketers to mess PPC campaigns up with the wrong approach. The challenges begin to pile up even higher once you take ad-blockers and declining conversion rates into account.

Navigating all these things can quickly become a full-time job. Unless you have the resources to bring new full-time PPC specialists, you’re better off outsourcing your paid search initiatives.

 

  1. Branding

There’s a very interesting Inc. article that argues why business should avoid DIY branding. In a nutshell, the article says that branding is best left to the experts because, too often, non-specialists don’t even understand its basic concepts and that branding does need some outsider viewpoints.

That’s why if you’re lining up some branding initiatives for next year, you’ll probably get better results if you let a talented branding company do it for you.

 

  1. Demand Generation

Demand generation strategies typically consist of top-of-funnel activities that drive interest and awareness. That’s why it’s a prime outsourcing candidate for organizations that want their marketing and sales teams to focus more on high-value activities such as conversion and closing.

An ideal demand generation solution provider offers B2B marketing services with functional expertise and industry knowledge. While the cost savings alone can already be a good reason to choose the outsourced path, the important benefit that demand generation agencies deliver is value.

 

  1. Lead Generation

Ascend2 estimates that 8 in 10 B2B marketers outsource part or all of their lead generation campaigns. That’s because as lead generation becomes increasingly tied to revenue generation, the pressure to deliver results is mounting.

This trend indicates that organizations find it difficult to meet the needs of a changing marketing landscape with the resources available in-house. The main criterion for choosing a third-party lead generation agency is their ability to identify and convert prospects with purchase intent.

 

  1. Lead Nurturing

Shouldn’t you nurture leads with the people and processes you have in-house? Yes, but there are a number of ways a B2B marketing services company can help you with lead nurturing, too. This is particularly true for organizations which have yet to lay down the right infrastructure, such as marketing automation platforms.

Even for companies with a mature tech stack, an experienced marketing partner can still make all the difference in the world.

 

  1. Appointment Setting

Most B2B marketers start out with the lofty goal of “keeping the sales calendar full”, but only a few have a clear idea of exactly how to get there.

That’s why it’s an excellent idea to partner with a B2B marketing services agency that does finding, qualifying, and booking sales appointments for you. Appointment setting offers a clear path toward keeping your sales team busy and productive, and an experienced third-party partner gets you there faster.

Knowing what marketing programs to outsource is a key part of the planning process. This often boils down to your objectives and your budget. Working with the right partner lets you tap into a rich pool of experience, technology, and connections which would otherwise be out of reach on your own.