Declining email response rates

By Angela Schuster

Guest Blogger, Jonathan Calver (Director of web based marketing system StrategyMix) discusses the alarming trend being seen in the UK of declining email response rates.

In the UK, email response rates are steadily declining. To my mind, this raises the questions:

  1. What would be the cause of this trend?

  2. Is this trend likely to take hold in Australia?

  3. What can be done about it?

Why would email response rates be declining in the UK?

  • Email list abuse

    Compared to Australia, the UK has pretty weak anti-spam legislation. Over there, you can still buy an email list and send it out without breaking the law.

    In such an environment, it is inevitable that lower quality marketers will take advantage of the situation and send out irrelevant emails to the wrong people. The problem of course is that the quality emails get drowned in a sea of rubbish, with a negative impact on response rates.

    Thanks to better legislation, sending emails to people who have not opted-in is less of a problem in Australia.

  • Lack of intention to provide value

    In the UK, it appears that a lot of companies are sending out "marketing" emails where the main purpose of the email is simply to "sing the praises" of the company sending the email, with very little genuine intention to provide the email recipient with meaningful and useful information.

    Unfortunately, this practice is all too common in Australia.

  • Failure to deliver on promises

    If someone reads a quality and relevant email that promises say, a white paper, which they subsequently find contains a load of marketing hype with very little usable information and therefore value, then the old adage of "once bitten, twice shy" soon applies. They won’t respond to your next email.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people in Australia have been "bitten".

  • Wrong message, wrong time

    It appears that many marketers prefer to "blanket cover" their database with special offers that make little or no attempt to match the email content with the stage that the email recipient has reached in their "Buyers Journey".

    Unfortunately, this "one size fits all", “email list” approach is also prevalent in Australia.

Is the trend of declining response rates likely to take hold in Australia?

Given points 2, 3 and 4 above, I'd say that the answer is "yes".

It's just a question of time. A bit like a pandemic.

The only good news is that not all pandemics are fatal for everybody.

Jonathan's next blog post discusses ways to stem the downward spiral before it sweeps through Australia. You can also read some of the white papers available from Jonathan and StrategyMix.