June 19, 2014, 10:35 AM

Spam, China and Gmail: Issues for e-mail marketers

A Responsys marketing report gives tips for e-mail marketers.

“Hard-core” spammers account for 80% of unwanted e-mail marketing messages in North America and Europe, according to e-mail marketing firm Responsys Inc., which e-commerce software vendor Oracle Corp. recently bought.

That is among the tidbits offered in the “The New School Marketer’s Guide to E-Mail Deliverability” from Responsys. It says that eight of ten spam messages can be “traced via aliases, addresses, redirects, locations of servers and [domain name system] setups to a hard-core group of around 100 spam operations.”

The reports also gives retailers tips about two other e-mail marketing areas: Google Inc.’s change last year to its Gmail organization, and how to reach consumers in China.

Google nearly a year ago revamped its Gmail inbox organization to automatically filter different types of e-mails into tabs based on the sender. One of the default tabs is “promotions,” and that’s where marketing e-mails go unless a consumer indicates it wants to see a brand’s messages under the Primary tab. Among the e-retailers that reported problems from the change was  daily deal operator Groupon Inc., (its Groupon Goods division is No. 44 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide), which says that change led to more shoppers leaving its e-mails unopened and led to financial losses.

The Repsonsys report sounds an optimistic note about the change, in that it gives “marketers an audience with a propensity to buy” as consumers use the Promotions tab to look for offers. To further reach those consumers, the report suggests that e-mail marketers “pay extra attention to subject lines.” That because with consumers seeing all marketing messages on one place, “the need to stand out is even more paramount.”

The report also notes that “e-mailing to consumers in China is becoming increasingly important for many marketers.” That’s understandable, given that China recently passed the United States in e-commerce: Online retail sales in China totaled $296.57 billion in 2013, 13% more than U.S. e-retail sales of $262.51 billion, according to a May report. That said, consumers in China tend to use e-mail more for work than for online retailing.

“Generic messages do tend to perform well” in China, the Responsys report says. “Be sure to send individually relevant information whenever possible.”

As well, e-marketers should accept a lower bar of success in China, the report adds. “The global open rates of major [Internet service providers] are around 25%. However, open rates are substantially lower in China. If you have an open rate of 12% to 15% in China, that does not necessarily mean your campaign did not fare well.”

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