Poll Results: What Would You Do To Lower Your Email Sending Cost?
We’ve all watched CPMs for email drop dramatically over the last five years. But it seems that no matter how low CPMs go, marketers keep pushing for lower pricing. If this keeps up, it won’t be too long before ESPs will have to pay marketers to send their emails in order to win the business (just kidding… maybe). Which got me to thinking, maybe it isn’t such a crazy idea after all. Not that the ESPs would actually pay brands to send their emails. Instead, maybe there is somebody who, in order to reach a brand’s audience of email subscribers, would be willing to cover all or part of the sending cost.
So that’s when Only Influencers and Marketing Democracy decided to create a survey to understand what, if anything, email marketers would consider doing to lower their email CPMs—possibly to the point of paying nothing at all. The results we got were extremely interesting, to say the least! Before digging into the results of our short survey, let’s look at what our participants looked like.
It was great to get respondents from a wide range of email marketers including SMB, mid-market and enterprise. Given how CPMs are driven by the volume of emails sent, it is fascinating to see the differences in how SMB email marketers reacted to the questions vs. the mid-market and enterprise. For the purposes of this discussion I would put the mid-market from 50 -250 million emails annually, and enterprise starting at 250+ million.
The first question we posed was “Which of the following concepts--if any--would you be most likely to consider to lower the costs of your email marketing campaigns?” We gave 4 possible answers including none of these, and here’s what you, the email marketer, responded:
While a little over 50% of you said you wouldn’t consider any of the 3 options we listed, 20% said you would consider sending during off-peak hours to get reduced pricing. Even more interesting, 1 in 4 of you said you’d consider adding a display add to your promotional email campaigns if it meant lower CPMs! No one, apparently, was interested a co-registration-type solution within their emails (shocker there). The enterprise-sized email marketers in general were the least conservative in their responses and were more likely to consider adopting one of those options for a reduction in CPM. The lowest volume email marketers were more conservative as a group. What makes this somewhat surprising is the likelihood that the lowest volume emailers are paying the highest CPMs. On the other hand, despite low CPMs, enterprise email marketers tend to write big checks for their volume.
The next question focused on what it would take to get you to even consider the options offered. It didn’t go quite as expected!
What is so interesting about the results to this question is that only a third of you require the sending cost to be zero in order to consider adding a display ad or sending campaigns in off-hours. 43% said a 50% reduction in price would make you consider one of those options, and 1 in 4 are willing to go there with only a 25% reduction in CPM. Truth be told, I expected zero CPM to be the runaway winner on this question. The higher volume emailers were more likely to opt for zero, again because despite the lower CPMs they are likely paying, their volumes are still resulting in very large checks being written to their ESPs. I have no doubt the CPM you are currently paying influenced your answers.
The third question is where things get really interesting. No one likes to switch vendors without a good reason (we see that with every RFP we manage!). So is a significant reduction in CPMs still enough to make you consider switching? Apparently so!
An overwhelming 69% of you answered that you would consider switching vendors to achieve CPM savings of between 25 - 100% off what you are currently paying (assuming everything else was equal between the ESPs). That sentiment was equally spread across all email volume levels. And even those who said none of the options we originally listed were of interest stil came down strongly on the side of considering to switch for CPM savings. Which proves that for everyone, pricing reduction continues to be a strong motivator to switch ESPs despite how far pricing has dropped. It also begs the question, what would it take to get the remaining 30% to consider switching ESPs? Perhaps a platform outage in December? Oh well, it’s a topic for another day!
Bill and I want to thank everyone who took the time to answer our questions. Email marketing is a continuously evolving industry, and these types of surveys are very illuminating. Are what are some of the conclusions that can be drawn from this rather unscientific survey? Here are mine:
- Despite the plunge in CPM prices—particularly at the enterprise level—there remains a strong desire for further reductions in CPM.
- Email marketers themselves are very open-minded to new ideas that can help them achieve price-reductions. The fact that a quarter of respondents would consider including a banner ad from another marketer in their promotional emails is (frankly) stunning. “Conservative” and “cautious-minded” obviously are not labels that can be applied to you as a group!
- There are not dramatic differences in how the lowest volume email marketers behave vs. the highest volume when it comes to trying new ideas around cost reduction—though the highest volume senders are slightly less conservative.
- A significant number of email marketers (30%) are immune to the lure of lower costs when considering a change in ESPs. Nevertheless, since vendors don’t know who they are, they will still benefit from the lower costs being driven by the other 70%.