Delivery and Reach in the Office Supply Market

  |  September 24, 2009   |  Comments

The best and worst delivery rates for e-mail marketing messages delivered by Staples, OfficeMax, and Office Depot during the back-to-school season.

I recently undertook a study of the reach and deliverability of the e-mail campaigns of the top three companies in the office supply market sector: Staples, OfficeMax, and Office Depot. Below are some of the results of that independent study.

First, the methodology. We combined and matched data taken from my firm's database and a 50,000-member panel. Reach is defined by the percentage of those 50,000 panel members who received any particular e-mail campaign and then we took a look at what percentage of those e-mails ended up in the spam folder. The panel consisted of AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo users; data was collected during July 2009. Note: The 50,000 panel may not be representative of the three retailers' lists. Nonetheless, my research offers a relative comparison of the delivery issues related to the trio.

Within our panel, for the month of July, Staples had the highest reach with a campaign that ran on July 31 with the subject line: "$10 coupon and more." This campaign reached the inboxes of 929 members of the panel, representing a reach of 1.86 percent. However, 5 percent (48) of the e-mails delivered ended up in spam folder, lowering the effective reach to 1.76 percent.

Office Depot came in second with an e-mail campaign on July 29 with the subject "Your Back to School Offer Is Here" that had a reach of 1.47 percent with 8 percent of the e-mails going straight to the spam folder and thus an effective reach of 1.34 percent.

In third place was OfficeMax. During the month, its largest campaign was sent on July 21 and reached 0.41 percent of our panel. Its subject line was: "$30 Coupon - Save Through Friday." Unfortunately, 25 percent of those e-mails went into the spam folder, giving OfficeMax an effective reach of 0.31 percent.

In general, Staples had a much better delivery rate on average than the other two brands. Six percent of their e-mails on average ended up in the spam folder (with a range from zero to 13 percent for its best and worst performing campaigns). Office Depot's spam folder average was 11 percent (with a range of zero to 50 percent, best to worst). And finally OfficeMax had the worst delivery with 29 percent of its e-mails going into the spam filter on average and range of 15 percent to 38 percent.

Of the three office supply companies, the top 10 list for the most poorly delivered e-mails in July, from the standpoint of being shuttled off to the spam filter, follows. This list starts with the worst.

  • "Free Back to School Supplies. Details Inside," from Office Depot was the worst; 50 percent of the e-mail messages from this campaign were caught by the spam filter. Notice the word "free" in the subject.

  • "Celebrate Christmas in July + 10% Off," also from Office Depot arrived in the spam folder 43 percent of the time. Was it "Christmas" or the word "off" that got the spam filters in a bunch?

  • An interesting point: 38 percent of OfficeMax's monthly statement notifications ended up in the spam filter!

  • OfficeMax took top honors again with "3 Hot Items for $99 Each + Back to School Specials." A total of 38 percent of these e-mails were never seen.

  • At 34 percent: "Free Gift with Toner + Hot Paper Price" from OfficeMax. Again, notice the word "Free" in the subject line.

  • OfficeMax took the next two slots with "Online Only Paper Deal + Save up to 50% on Printers " and "2 Days Left to Save - $30 Coupon" coming in at 33 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

  • Eighth place went to Office Depot with "Free Back to School Supplies. Details Inside." Again, that pesky word "free" shows up here. I hope Office Depot picked it up on the backend with higher CTRs (define).

  • Ninth and 10th place for worst delivery rates went back to OfficeMax with "Today's Daily Deal + Preorder Windows 7 and Save up to $100 " and "Free Gift with Toner + Save up to 50% on Printers."

To download the report, go here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill McCloskey

Bill McCloskey is the founder and chief evangelist for Email Data Source, a competitive intelligence resource for e-mail marketers. He was named one of online advertising's 50 most influential people by "Media" magazine and one of the 100 people to know by "BtoB Magazine." He's been a recognized pioneer in interactive advertising for over 10 years.

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