Insights and expert tips for the Australian email market

According to a new email deliverability benchmark report, Australian marketers are performing highly when it comes to email. Guy Hanson gives tips and insights on how to become a top-performing email marketer, even during a global pandemic.

If you’re a marketer in Australia — give yourself a pat on the back — you’re one of the highest performing email markets in the world. According to Validity Inc.’s 2020 Email Deliverability Benchmark report, Australia’s email inbox placement rate is 88 percent compared to 83 percent globally, while our spam placement rate sits at just 2 percent compared to the global average of 8 percent.

How has email changed during COVID-19?

While Australian businesses do email really well, unfortunately no one is immune from the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses and marketing programs worldwide have been impacted, with email being no exception. Global internet activity is up around 50 percent since the pandemic began, meaning marketers need to work a lot harder to ensure their emails actually get delivered, and that they’re compelling successfully to cut through the increased noise.

Validity Inc.’s analysis found that 5 percent of all global email traffic since the pandemic began has carried a specific COVID-19 theme and that inbox placement rates for these emails is 2.5 percent higher than average. What’s more, open rates for these emails are 20 percent higher than emails that don’t carry COVID-19 related content and they are 15 percent less likely to generate spam complaints.

Top-performing emails in Australia

To execute a best practice email marketing program, it pays to think like your subscribers. Last year we analysed a broad set of Australian email programs to identify the key attributes that appeal to Australian subscribers. The first thing we found is that while Australian consumers are happy to receive offers, they want them to be especially relevant to them —based on their previous purchases, or preferences they’ve entered. It’s also not just about offers — Australians want brands to send them a mix of content: inspirational ideas, information that is useful in their daily lives and things that make them laugh — variety is key in this region!

This is a best practice message we’ve promoted for years, but the COVID-19 crisis means we’ve seen far more senders put it into practice as they have sought to achieve a more empathetic and authentic tone of voice. Customers have responded really well to these more informational, value-added strategies, and we’re hopeful this will persist post-crisis.

Our analysis also found that Australian audiences prefer emails that are clear and concise, are visually balanced and symmetrical, and carry informative subject lines that make it clear what the email contains and why it should be opened.

Finally, Australian subscribers want choice. They want the opportunity to define their preferences to ensure they receive information and offers that they are most interested in — whether that’s sales, how-to guides, or trend pieces.

Tips to be a top-performing email marketer

Embrace new laws early

Australia is currently tightening rules and laws pertaining to digital privacy — from the federal government proposing larger fines for data privacy non-compliance, to updated definitions of personal data and stricter notification requirements.

Australian email marketers are generally proactive in embracing new legislation and adapting their programs accordingly, and they should continue to do so. Early adoption allows businesses to future-proof their program as they can iron out any issues early on and start refining it while their competitors wait until the last minute to comply.

There are also potential performance advantages from doing so. Europe provided a great case study of the benefits of writing acknowledged best practices into law. Recent DMA research showed a significant majority of respondents reported that open rates, click rates, conversion rates and program revenue have all increased post-General Data Protection Regulation. At the same time, negative metrics, such as complaint rates, have declined which clearly illustrates the improved engagement that now exists. 

Mix up your email messaging 

Emails programs don’t have to be a steady menu of offers, discounts and promotions. Our research shows that Australian consumers respond best when brands offer them variety. Think about how you can provide value to your subscribers through information, customer surveys and prizes. Richer and more diverse email content contributes to a higher-performing program.

During the COVID-19 crisis we’ve seen real innovation in this regard. The travel industry is a great case in point — with little inventory to promote, we’ve seen brand new campaigns built around ideas like virtual travel tours, dreaming about the future and crowdsourcing of favourite travel experiences.

Be interactive 

Subscribers value creativity and entertainment. Short games, quizzes, and challenges to unlock offers and prizes are a great way to get customers engaged and help to further diversify the type of content you’re sending.

Consider your frequency

There is a significant increase in spam complaint activity when a subscriber starts to receive more than five emails a week from the same sender. In addition, inbox placement rates begin to be decline as frequency increases. To avoid this happening, limit the number of emails you send each week to five, unless absolutely necessary. Also provide subscribers with genuine choice by letting them define their own preferred frequency.

Choose your timing

With many currently working from home because of the lockdown, rules around timing are not as clear cut as they used to be. For example, there is less to be gained from targeting early morning commuters when the majority of people are working from home.

Interestingly, inbox placement in the afternoon is a whole 5 percent higher than it is in the morning currently. It might be worthwhile mixing up your scheduling a little and analysing the results to see if your optimal send time has changed. Also think about tweaking the start time for your email sends. We identified that a whopping 70 percent of marketing emails go out within the first two minutes of every hour. Scheduling your emails to go a little later, for example 10 minutes past, means less competition for scarce bandwidth!

Guy Hanson is the VP of Engagement at Validity Inc.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash.