Among the myriad tools and processes covered by Gary Hennerberg, president of direct marketing consultancy Hennerberg Group Inc., in last week's Target Marketing webinar, "Online Competitive Intelligence," two key developments on the e-mail creative front stood out as something to consider.
After analyzing more than 300,000 e-mails collected and categorized in the E-mail Campaign Archive, a competitive research tool on U.S. e-mail campaigns (and, in the interest of disclosure, a service provided by Target Marketing's sister division, DirectMarketingIQ.com), Hennerberg identified a couple patterns, two of which have bearing on the creative development process:
1. Word count is dropping. Comparing e-mails received in the first quarter of 2009 versus the same quarter this year, the word count had dropped about 20 percent. Hennerberg theorizes that what's likely happening is a shift from two-step to three-step selling processes; in the latter, more teaser-style e-mail messages drive recipients to a tailored landing page for a more involved sales presentation and then on to either a deeper product/service page or order/conversion action page.
2. Even the most frequently used word or symbol in subject lines appears in only a little more than 16 percent of e-mail campaigns. That top element is the percent symbol, closely followed by the word, "off"—in the research, and also probably the subject line. Other key terms, in order of popularity: you, new, free, $, save, shipping, free shipping, get, up to, gift, now and today. Depending on how you look at it, you might want to stand out from the crowd with less typical word choices or not sweat the small overlap.