Ciceron Study: First Email Impressions? Not Good.

Ciceron Study: First Email Impressions? Not Good.

A study found Minnesota companies tend to neglect their email relationships with customers or smother customers with contact.

While it takes time for a consumer to feel at home with a brand, the business first has to open its door. Email-wise, we ain’t doing so good.

Minneapolis-based brand marketing firm Ciceron conducted a study to analyze welcome messages that companies send to new email subscribers. The study selected 70 businesses, mainly based in Minnesota, and assessed the first 21 days of email marketing.

The results were resoundingly negative: Eighty-three percent of brands didn’t make a good first impression—or any impression at all. Forty-one percent didn’t send a message within the first 48 hours, and 27 percent didn’t send a single message over the entire three-week period following a subscription. Of the 39 percent that sent a welcome message, more than half didn’t make a good first impression, according to Ciceron.

Ciceron studied frequency of emails and substance of messages. It defined a “good first impression” as providing an immediate welcome response, branding the message with a unique design, setting expectations, and calling the subscriber to action.

The industries that gave the best first impressions were restaurant, retail, and tourist sites, according to Julie Verhulst, lead researcher on the study. “The best welcome responses usually came from large companies like Famous Dave’s. Smaller brands like the Como Zoo did not even send a message,” she says. “Some sites would ask for emails but had no program in place to send messages.” For example, 23 asked for subscribers’ birthdays but only four actually sent a message when the date came—talk about trick candles.

On the other side of the coin, some companies drowned new subscribers in an incessant stream of email. One clothing retailer sent 19 messages in 21 days. According to Verhulst, the ideal amount would be one immediately, another that same week, and then weekly messages, although it varies by industry.

With all of the emerging forms of social-media marketing, some brands are looking past email. But according to a study by email marketer ExactTarget, 49 percent of consumers (including 36 percent of consumers with smart phones) still use email most often to connect with brands—more than Facebook and Twitter combined.