The Bottom 90: Best And Worst Email Practices From Dotmailer

  • The Bottom 90: Best And Worst Email Practices From Dotmailer

    by Ray Schultz , Columnist, May 2, 2017

    All praise is due to Best Buy, J. Crew and other brands that made into dotmailer’s top ten email matchup, “Hitting The Mark.” But what about the other 90 retailers? What did they do wrong?

    Plenty, as it turns out. For example, “The top 10 brands clearly understood the customer and delivered well-timed messages based on behavioral data,” dotmailer states. “The remaining 90 brands either didn’t have this data available or turned to ‘batch and blast’ offer-led messaging which was prevalent throughout our evaluation.”

    Then there’s this: “The 10 leading brands delivered consistently compelling messages using customer data and great copywriting,” dotmailer continues. “It’s clear that the remaining 90 brands lagged significantly behind the leaders due to either a lack of data, skills or time.”

    Sometimes you can learn best practices by studying what competitors failed to do, but dotmailer is trying to save you some of that work. It reviewed the emails of 100 leading brands over a six-month period. The result? A checklist of things to keep in mind (and some depressing stats on how many companies are forgetting them).

    Newsletter signup This is where you capture visitors “regardless of whether they’ve committed to a purchase or not,” as dotmailer writes. First you need a sign-up form.


    • Availability
    • Prominence
    • Incentive

    Welcome emails — Dotmailer was “alarmed to discover that 14 of the 100 brands in our study didn’t send us an automated welcome email after signing up to their mailing lists.” However, it did receive some great examples.


    • Timeliness
    • The subject line
    • Compelling proposition
    • Mobile responsiveness
    • Call-to-action placement
    • The clarity of T&Cs 
    • A ‘View-in-Browser’ Link
    • The Level of Personalization
    • The landing page

    Abandoned Cart Emails —  “We were surprised that only 40 of the 100 brands in our sample sent us an email notification after we placed something in our cart and left the website,” Dotmailer writes.


    • Timeliness
    • The subject line
    • Content
    • Level of personalization
    • Design
    • The call to action and ongoing journey


    After the Sale — Dotmailer reports that “46% of companies didn’t send us a feedback request email after purchasing a product or service.”


    • Order confirmation email
    • Customer feedback email
    • Shipping updates
    • Returns information and policy
    • Overall best practices — Some companies went “over and above the call of duty,” Dotmailer ad


    • Brand consistency
    • Unsubscribe link
    • ‘View in browser’ link
    • Email preferences

    Advanced tactics — This includes cross-channel promotion. Dotmailer found that 84% “promoted their social networks or network of stores within emails. It added, however, that “in general, we found that there was a lack of obvious targeting as well as an absence of personalized content.”


    • Level of segmentation
    • Level of personalization
    • Level of automation
    • Cross-channel promotion 

    Newsletters — Here, too, best practices seem to be observed in the breach. Dotmailer notes that “92% of retailers sent us offer-led newsletters, yet, in the latest DMA Marketer Tracker report, just 26% of marketers found this type of email content to be effective.”


    • The subject line
    • Relevancy
    • The level of personalization
    • Content
    • Design and layout
    • Clear T&Cs and privacy
    • Call-to-actions
    • The landing page
    • Overall best practices

    Beyond the email — This includes everything from search to checkout. Happily, “71 of the 100 brands featured in our study offer their customers the option to make payments via PayPal, Amazon Pay or both,” Dotmailer wrote.


    • Search engine visibility
    • Social media presence and activity
    • On-site search
    • Product pages
    • Shopping cart and wish list functionality
    • The checkout process

    Good luck to everyone, both in the top 10 and the bottom 90. 

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