By Daniel Hunter

The top online retailers in the UK and US are underperforming at critical elements of email marketing, including sign up and subject lines, a new report from email marketing specialists dotMailer has found.

Hitting the Mark: Email Intelligence Report 2013/14, the fifth edition of the benchmarking report by dotMailer, reveals that over two thirds of the UK’s top online retailers are still failing to create email marketing campaigns that are fully optimised for mobile devices, despite recent numbers indicating over a third of email is now read on email.

The report benchmarked 60 online retailers, taking the top 30 in the UK and US, against a set of 27 criteria including shareability, design, rendering and landing pages. This year, new scoring criteria were developed to embrace recent developments in email marketing strategy, such as mobile optimisation and responsive design. Overall, performance has improved by 8% since the last study in 2011, with the average total score amounting to 73%.

House of Fraser topped both the UK and global chart, a feat made more impressive considering the retailer scored zero in 2011 and was generally late to ecommerce in not launching a transactional site until 2007. Email marketing now appears to be a core part of its multi-channel marketing strategy, hitting 91% of the overall criteria.

Hitting the Mark: Email Intelligence Report 2013/14 is the first iteration of the dotMailer report to benchmark US retailers, and the global runner up and US victor was Macy’s, scoring 90%. Macy’s reportedly saw a 41% surge in online sales last year, indicating that its sound digital marketing strategy is paying off.

Across the board, the report found the top retailers are getting most of the basics right, with well-observed legitimacy, clear unsubscribe processes and strong calls to action.

Landing pages for campaigns were generally mobile optimised with an average score of 84%, however where retailers fell down was optimising the email content itself for mobile devices. Disappointingly, only 23% of emails assessed across the 60 retailers included code to adapt the content to smaller screens, a figure that was even lower for US retailers in particular, at 14%.

“Having scored the top UK retailers for a number of years it was fascinating to see how their US counterparts compete. dotMailer has recently opened an office in New York so we were intrigued to see how the two markets compare," Tink Taylor, Managing Director of dotMailer, commented.

"Interestingly, the US and UK are markedly similar in what they get right and what could be done better when it comes to email marketing, with the UK just about edging the US by five points out of the 280 total. The scores for mobile were a surprise, particularly as a third of all email is now read on a mobile device. Optimisation for mobiles is becoming less of a bonus and more of a requirement for today’s marketers.”

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