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Ecommerce marketing automation platform Omnisend, recently published its Email & SMS Marketing Stats & Trends Report (Q2 2020) . The results of the study provide interesting insights on e-commerce consumer behavior towards email, SMS and push marketing messages during the pandemic. One insight is that consumers gravitated toward trusted channels such as email marketing when doing their online shopping.

Omnisend analyzed email send data for over 2.4 billion emails sent from the Omnisend marketing platform during Q2 2020. They also looked at more than 1.8 million SMS and push messages sent through the Omnisend platform. The data below includes sends, opens, clicks, and conversions from April 1st through June 30th for both 2019 and 2020.

Email Marketing Performance

Email Open Rates:

Email open rates increased year-over-year for both promotional campaigns and automated messages during the second quarter. Promotional campaigns (traditional scheduled messages) registered an overall open rate of 10.85%*, a 29.37% lift compared to the same period in 2019.

This increased performance is not entirely surprising. As we saw in the COVID-19 email marketing metric report, when consumers increased their online shopping they turned to trusted marketing channels like email as a source of product discovery and awareness.

When consumers increased their online shopping they turned to trusted marketing channels like email as a source of product discovery and awareness.

Email Rates

Online DTC brands who don’t send these types of messages because their ecommerce platform isn’t integrated with their email provider are missing a huge growth opportunity.

Type of Automation

Open Rate

Lift Over Campaigns

Product Abandonment

51.64%

375.90%

Cart Abandonment

30.58%

181.84%

Browse Abandonment

26.34%

142.75%

Post-Purchase

24.58%

126.52%

Welcome

23.80%

119.34%

Birthday

23.22%

114.00%

Lapsed-Purchaser

22.11%

103.77%

* List management, send cadence, and the use of Booster sends (remails) on a per-client basis impacts promotional campaign open rates—often resulting in lower overall numbers. For instance, it is common for remailed messages, because they specifically target non-openers, to receive roughly half of the open rate as the initial send—therefore reducing the overall open rate.

Email Click Rates:

While promotional campaigns saw a decrease in click rates, the same cannot be said for automated messages. Automated messages generated a 21.24% click rate, marking a 15.37% YoY lift over automations in 2019.

Email Rates

When comparing click rates in Q2 of this year, automated messages see an improvement of 49.36% over scheduled promotional campaigns, with birthday, cart abandonment, and welcome emails leading the way.

Type of Automation

Click Rate

Lift Over Campaigns

Birthday

24.08%

69.33%

Cart Abandonment

20.85%

46.62%

Welcome

19.74%

38.82%

Product Abandonment

18.83%

32.41%

Post-Purchase

16.33%

14.87%

Browse Abandonment

15.76%

10.85%

Lapsed-Purchaser

15.50%

8.98%

Email Marketing Conversion Rates:

Overall, the conversion rate for promotional email marketing campaigns was 5.37%—an 88% year-over-year lift. Maybe more promising for brands is that the conversion rate increased each month of the quarter, hinting at an increased reliance on not only ecommerce but email marketing as a primary purchase channel.

This behavior is indicative of intent-based shopping. Instead of consumers clicking on an email and casually browsing the website, emails had to ‘earn’ their clicks—but once the subscriber clicked on the email their intent to purchase was higher.

Email Rates

Most importantly, automated messages drove 26% of the email marketing conversions while accounting for less than 2% of the email sends. Online brands should look to automation as a major component for increasing their sales.

Type of Automation

Conversion Rate

Lift Over Campaigns

Welcome

48.35%

799.88%

Cart Abandonment

25.37%

372.28%

Lapsed-Purchaser

20.96%

290.08%

Post-Purchase

17.06%

217.54%

Browse Abandonment

16.06%

198.88%

Product Abandonment

14.22%

164.60%

Birthday

10.45%

94.46%

 

Overall Campaigns and Automation Performance:

Scheduled promotional campaigns made up 98% of the email volume sent during Q2 2020. These campaigns saw YoY increases in open and conversion rates, while click rates slightly decreased.

Campaign Email Performance Q2 2020

The worst-performing automated message, in terms of conversion rate, still saw a rate nearly double that of promotional campaigns.

The numbers don’t lie — automated lifecycle messages are powerful sales enablers for ecommerce businesses. Even though these messages accounted for less than 2% of the email marketing volume sent during Q2, they generated 26% of the conversions. In fact, the worst-performing automated message, in terms of conversion rate, still saw a rate nearly double that of promotional campaigns. Online businesses who fail to utilize automated lifecycle messages are limiting their growth potential.

Automation Message performance Q2 2020

For more insights including Transactional Performance, SMS and Push Message performance as well as E-commerce takeaways, please click here. 

In contextual  targeting, advertising media are controlled on the basis of the content of a website using linguistic elements. The advertisements themselves are selected and served by automated systems based on the context of what a user is looking at. Contextual advertising helps a brand understand what a consumer might like without needing personally identifiable information. Results of a new study show that digital advertising campaigns that employ contextual targeting are more cost-efficient than behaviorally targeted campaigns.

Amidst a wave of data privacy regulation and third party cookie phase-outs that have digital advertisers scrambling for solutions to maintain campaign efficiency and scale, contextual targeting has frequently been touted as a data privacy-friendly alternative to behavioral targeting––but until now the viability of that claim has gone largely untested. Tech and media firm GumGum published a case study called Understanding Contextual Relevance and Efficiency: A Comparison of Contextual Intelligence Vendors and Behavioral Targeting. Findings seem to give credence to the promise of contextual as results indicate that digital advertising  campaigns that employ contextual targeting are more cost-efficient than behaviorally targeted campaigns. The study was sponsored in partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network and conducted by an independent third-party researcher.

Contextual Targeting
GumGum CEO Phil Schraeder.
It is fabulous to finally see a head-to-head contextual-behavioral match up and get hard data behind contextual targeting’s value.

“Machine learning-backed contextual targeting has been a central tenet of our offering since the get-go, so to some degree, from our perspective, this study states the obvious, but it is fabulous to finally see a head-to-head contextual-behavioral match up and get hard data behind contextual targeting’s value,” said GumGum CEO Phil Schraeder. “There are plenty of doubting Thomas’ about contextual as an answer to the cookie’s death and this ought to give them some faith.”

While the study was principally designed to better understand the overall effectiveness of contextual intelligence in comparison to behavioral, it also sought to benchmark four of the top contextual intelligence vendors in the industry. For the study, Dentsu Aegis Network ran live campaigns for four of its major brand clients, including Sephora, across four contextual intelligence vendors, as well as by leveraging behavioral targeting. The campaigns utilized the same brand safe inventory. The campaign served 1M impressions, which were measured for cost efficiency and content relevance.

We needed to gauge the effectiveness of the numerous emergent contextual intelligence offerings.
Contextual Targeting
Brian Monahan, Global Client President and Head of US Ventures for Dentsu Aegis Network.

“In a world with diminishing access to audience targeting, as responsible partners to our clients, we need the most robust understanding of potential best practices and tools available for success,” explained Brian Monahan, Global Client President and Head of US Ventures for Dentsu Aegis Network. “Beyond value-testing contextual, we also needed to gauge the effectiveness of the numerous emergent contextual intelligence offerings. This study gave us both of those things––and the results are compelling.”

Indeed, the study found that, taking into account CPMs, the contextual Intelligence vendor in-demo impressions (eCPM) cost 29% less than behaviorally targeted in-demo impressions, with GumGum Verity™ impressions costing somewhat less (36%)––and overall that for CPC and vCPM the costs of using contextual targeting were lower than behavioral (48% and 41% respectively).

 

For the study, Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings Reporting, Xandr, GumGum, MOAT provided the cost efficiency measurement of impressions. Appen, a third party vendor specializing in human annotation of urls, measured content relevance.

The field of marketing technology has revolutionized the way that campaigns are planned, executed, and evaluated. But mar-tech can be intimidating: Navigating the now 7k+ platforms that claim to help marketers understand, reach, engage, and measure their target audiences is no small task.

Here is a primer on marketing technology – what you need to know about today’s mar-tech platforms, how you can evaluate and select them for your specific needs, and how the industry will evolve in 2020.

The Basics

Marketing technology has traditionally come in the form of a software whose principle aim is to assist you in planning and carrying out marketing campaigns, gathering and analyzing the results, and applying insight to future campaigns.

At the most basic level, marketing technology can be broken down into six groups that marketing technology “godfather” Scott Brinker defined as:

• Advertising & Promotion
• Content & Experience
• Social & Relationships
• Commerce & Sales
• Data Management

The advent of marketing technology can be brought back to 1999, when Salesforce launched the Software-as-a-Service model with the goal of making it unnecessary for organizations to spend a fortune to create their own bespoke CRM systems that were often slow and tedious to use. Under SaaS models, brands pay a monthly or yearly fee to use the tools offered. These tools can cost anywhere between $5,000 to $50,000 a year.

Fast forward and today, 29% of marketing budgets are dedicated to marketing technology, Ogilvy has a 900-person mar-tech team, and mar-tech software are being acquired for billions of dollars.

What Mar-Tech Does for Marketers

The best mar-tech tools will offer a combination of the following benefits:

  • Automation of workflows: Most mar-tech solutions automate tasks that are too time-consuming and/or complex to complete manually, like pulling, organizing, and analyzing data.
  • Support streamlined communication: Most mar-tech solutions will enable better communication within and between work teams through tools that help teams track the status of projects and increase collaboration.
  • Generate insight: Mar-tech solutions should do more than pull data – they should be able to draw actionable conclusions that support better decision-making, optimize campaigns, and reveal opportunities and gaps.

Breaking Down the Software Types

Perhaps the most basic way to break down marketing technology is to think about them as either point solutions, which provide tools that address one specific aspect of marketing, or suite solutions, that address more than one category of tools. When a vendor combines these tools under one platform, it is often called a mar-tech stack. Whether a brand selects a point or a suite solution depends on a variety of factors determined by a campaign’s objectives and budget, and there are very good reasons for picking both.

Marketing Technology
Marketing Technology Vendors

To choose your suite of tools, it is important to consider your business model, marketing goals, and how your targets move down the marketing funnel. Often, products are more effective at assisting with a particular stage of the funnel than others, Smart marketers will make sure to combine tools whose tools will help you address the entire sales funnel. Getting to know the tools yourself will be important for both selecting and using them effectively: many of them offer free trials, which you can take advantage of when comparing your options.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the types of tools a marketing technology solution might offer:

Content Marketing tools address the content production process, providing assistance with content management. This means tools for search engine optimization, landing page and A/B testing, content discovery, content distribution,, digital asset management and lead generation.

Rich media tools assist with design, video, and audio creation and promotion, and include video making tools, video marketing platforms, podcasting tools, graphic design tools, and interactive content tools.

Social media management tools assist in planning, scheduling, posting, and measuring social media activity. Monitoring tools help you track your engagement as well as that of competitors, and identify trends. Influencer marketing platforms help brands find and connect with relevant influencers in your industry.

Marketing automation platforms assist in automating and simplifying the basic tasks associated with marketing: marketing automation software automates analysis and social media tasks, and email marketing tools streamline email marketing. Mobile marketing platforms assist in the design and management of push notifications, promotions and offers for mobile apps.

Advertising platforms and tools assist in paid advertising tasks. Search engine marketing helps you identify keywords, conduct competitive analysis, and optimize search engine campaigns. Social media advertising focuses more specifically on ads across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Native advertising tools help you create more effective ads for websites you do not own. Programmatic advertising tools automate the complex process of buying and selling ad spaces so that you can better reach your target audiences.

Sales enablement tools manage the sales and customer management processes. Sales automation platforms manage contacts, leads, sales planning, email marketing, and tools like click-to-call. Customer support tools streamline communication with customers, and customer relationship management tools assist in contact management, task management, and sales reporting.

Data and analytics platforms offer web analytics, tagging, and predictive analytics tools. Data management tools gather third-party data to inform ad targeting and media buying. Customer data platforms collect first-party data for improved targeting. Web analytics tools assist in forming a better picture of those visiting your website in terms of demographics and behavior. They also include tag management tools simplify the process of tagging different types of data on your sight. Predictive analytics tools use machine learning and data mining to create predictive models for your websites.

The Rapid Growth of Marketing Technology

As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, the value of effective mar-tech solutions and the money brands are willing to invest in them increase rapidly.

In 2015 alone, over 300 mar-tech companies received $17 billion in funding. Between 2017 and 2019 the value of the market increased from $34.3 billion to $65 billion in the US and UK alone. A 2018 survey found that UK and US firms are spending 26% of their budgets on mar-tech compared to 23% last year. This is a whopping 13% increase in mar-tech budgets since last year.

All-in-One Solutions, Big Acquisitions Shaping Marketing Technology Today

In terms of how the mar-tech landscape is evolving, there are several trends worth noting.

Brands are forming a better understanding of how they can use marketing technology to support their digital marketing efforts. In recent years, brands felt like they needed to invest in dozens of independent vendors to meet their needs. Now, while brands recognize that independent specialists are necessary for some functions, they are increasingly turning to one primary vendor. A study by Walker Sands found that more than a third (34%) rely on a best-of-breed stack (the same rate as in 2018) while 27% rely on a single-vendor suite. 45% of those surveyed asserted that the consolidation of mar-tech has made it more accessible. 

Large legacy brands’ acquisitions of smaller specialist providers have driven this consolidation and strengthened the core of their offerings.

In the recent years,  IPG media acquired Axciom for $2.3bn, Publicis acquired Epsilon for $4bn, Dentsu Aegis Network acquired Merkle for $1.5 billion, Adobe acquired Marketo for $4.75 billion, and Salesforce acquired Tableau for $15.7 billion. In addition, the best mar-tech platforms are investing in integrating emerging technology into their solutions.

Marketing Technology Trends: The Rise of AI and the Ad-Tech Boom

Artificial intelligence is one of the hottest trends in mar-tech. Today, it allows marketers to automate the

Walter Sands’ “State of Marketing Technology” report

process of gathering, analyzing, and drawing insight from data. It automates the process of sifting through the massive amounts of information brands gather through their campaigns to help brands understand their customers’ journeys.

Nonetheless, marketers are still figuring out how to use AI in their technology solutions. 40% of respondents to a Walker Sands study believe AI will continue to be a buzzword in 2019, though only 32% currently use AI or have plans to invest in it this year.

Finally, the growth of ad-tech capabilities is driving the use of mar-tech, with 54% of respondents to the Walker Sands study currently incorporating adtech into their strategies, making it one of the most-used categories of mar-tech. This can partially be explained by improvements in attribution measurement capabilities, as Big Data is making it easier and easier for marketers to drive ROI. In terms of where marketers want ad tech to help them,  52% prioritize ad spending in social media, while 17% prioritize it for Google Ads. This suggests that driving engagement and conversation, not just clicks and brand awareness, are the most important goals for today’s marketers.

The Bottom Line: Marketers Are Happy with Marketing Technology Investment Levels, Becoming Savvier

While the mar-tech landscape is certainly evolving, marketers appear to be satisfied with their use of the technology. 75% of respondents to the Walker Sands study believe their company is investing in the right amount of mar-tech. This is compared to 63% in 2018, a record high for the State of Martech report. This indicates that marketers are learning how to do more with smaller budgets, and run and measure integrated programs. In 2020, smart marketers will continue to take all of these trends and market shifts into account.