With focus increasingly shifting to digital advertising and especially newer concepts like app marketing and native advertising, it might be easy for marketers to put email marketing on the backburner if it were not for it continuously proving its efficacy. There are about 2.5 billion email users worldwide. A recent study said that 68 per cent of consumers preferred email as the channel for receiving commercial messages with 19 per cent or 1 in 5 consumers reading email newsletters for offers.
Kalpit Jain, COO of Netcore, shares his thoughts on this medium and how it might evolve in the days to come. Excerpts.
Netcore started email marketing a few years back. What are the changes you have seen in campaigns and user habits since then?
We started email marketing around 5 years back and we are now seeing a good RoI. The number of internet users in the country has increased which has led to more emails being seen. Customers who had started from the basics of email marketing have now graduated to an advanced stage.
Can you give me an idea of the scale of your operations?
We send approximately 300-350 crore emails each month, which is about 1 lakh emails per minute. We work with 1,000 to 2,000 brands in India and I believe we are the No. 1 player when it comes to email marketing.
What is the total market size for email marketing in India currently?
The total market size would be approximately Rs 125-150 crore currently and it was about Rs 20-25 crores 5 years ago. Email marketing would account for around 25-30 per cent of the total digital revenues in the country right now. The opportunity for email marketing has been growing 75-80 per cent YoY. E-commerce and BFSI have been the key drivers.
You mentioned earlier that some of your clients have now moved to an “advanced stage”. Would you care to elucidate?
I think marketing automation is the next stage of email marketing. A lot of e-commerce players are moving towards this stage and we have seen, at least in the e-commerce segment a lot of maturity when it comes to how to use e-mails. So, marketing automation is a capability which we have been building over the years.
Has there been a big change in terms of open rates or CTRs?
Open rates and CTRs change based on verticals and also depend on how engaged the customer base is with you. There are a lot of parameters. We have seen, on an average, 5-7 per cent open rates across industries. The average CTR is 0.8-1.2 per cent.
How has the proliferation of mobile devices had an impact on how consumers access emails and, consequently, on marketing campaigns?
Around 2 years ago, approximately 15-20 per cent of emails were getting opened on mobile. Right now, this number stands at around 35-40 per cent. Email is the most used application and the usage is only increasing.
A lot of email campaigns are also integrated with other things like applications, SMS, etc. The process is called deeplinking and we use it to create multi-channel communications. We have a platform called MARtech, which integrates all these mediums on a single platform. So, a client can send part of the messaging through, say, an SMS and part of it via email. This, we believe, will be the next evolution of email marketing.
From Netcore’s perspective, how important will email marketing be for you in the coming years?
In the next 2-3 years, we would like to see email marketing contribute to about 50-55 per cent of our total revenue but there will also be some overlap. We believe that it will be very significant to how we operate.
In your opinion what is the advantage email has, as a medium, compared to others?
Marketers do keep wondering this. We have seen email has always performed much better than other mediums. There are reports which claim that with email for every $1 spent you get $40 back. If campaigns are done with a database which is not opt-in or not active then the results will change.
Email is a push notification as compared to other digital mediums, which is also one reason why a lot of e-commerce players opt for it. For example, about 20-25 per cent of our total email revenue comes from e-commerce sector. We have heard from some clients that their business has suffered by as much as 40-45 per cent when emails have not gone out.
Apart from automation and multi-channel communication, how are some of the newer digital trends like video marketing fitting in with email marketing?
We have seen a lot of companies adopting videos embedded within emails. Another concept that is coming up is one of ‘Dynamic Content’, which is basically a live ticker where the content changes automatically every time the email is opened. The next important trend these days is personalization and relevancy. Relevancy is very important as email service provider like Gmail are now strict about how relevant the content is so you risk seeing your email being sent to the spam folder.
Speaking of Gmail, what has been the impact of segregation of mails into promotions and primary folders?
When it was launched initially, advertisers did think that it would have an impact on visibility but we have not seen a dramatic drop. Maybe a user might not see the email during the day but would be visiting the Promotions folder whenever he has time to go through the emails.
The only way to ensure that your emails don’t go to the Promotions or Spam folder is to ensure that there is engagement with the customer. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts these days, with thinks like SPF, DMA, etc. There are still some companies that buy databases from the market but if the bounce rate is high, the service provider gets suspicious.
How much of the total email traffic does Gmail account for?
In India? About 60-70 per cent.