By Jeanne Jennings
One of the World’s Top Email Marketing Influencers

This is one of three articles I’ve written this week on Living Social, the daily deals industry and email marketing, all utilizing information from eDataSource. See links to check out the other two within and at the end of this post.

I started diving into send quantities in my ClickZ column titled Is Living Social Overly Dependent on Email? While Groupon and Living Social each have year-to-date send quantities of just over 50 billion, the spread of the send quantities is somewhat different.

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Some highlights:

• Living Social sent 27% more email than Groupon did in the first quarter
• Living Social’s average send quantities were much higher in the first and second quarters, by 35% and 28% respectively
• Living Social’s median send quantities are consistently larger than Groupon’s, from 32% greater in the third quarter to 71% greater in the first quarter
• Living Social sends fewer campaigns than Groupon on a regular basis (from 6% to 15% fewer)

It’s interesting to note that Living Social announced they would be doing more segmentation and targeting beginning in the third quarter, in an attempt to improve relevance and performance by providing more ‘personalized’ deals. The number of campaigns did rise and their average and median send quantities did decrease, but both inbox placement and read rate fell. Which suggests that this initiative may not have been very successful. Average and median send quantities rose again in the fourth quarter and read rate is rebounding (but inbox placement is not).

Read rates for both companies are trending downward. This may be because more traffic is being pulled directly to these organization’s mobile apps and Websites, where subscribers pro-actively search for what they want rather than just watch emails to see if there’s something they desire. Groupon reported that approximately 10% of total traffic to their North American site searched deals in Q3, with people who searched spending significantly more that people who didn’t.

This doesn’t mean that email is less important to daily deals sites – the way it provides value is just morphing a bit. In the early days people weren’t in the habit of visiting Groupon or Living Social; email as a push technology not only delivered deals directly to the inbox, it increased brand awareness and helped build the habit of using a daily deals site. Years later the heavy lifting of brand awareness and building the habit are done; but email still has a role to play in the maintenance of each of these. Consider: if Groupon or Living Social completely stopped sending email tomorrow, how long would it take consumers to ‘forget’ about them? Not long.

What started this whole line of thinking for me was a quote that appeared in a Living Social Press Release back in November:

“This reorganization begins to address the need for the company to further focus on reshaping its mission and redefining the market in an industry that is stagnant, and overly dependent on email.”

So as I said above I do think that email’s role here is changing. But are the daily deal sites overly dependent on email? No. It was a critical part of their birth and even with mobile apps it will continue to be important to their success.

But I digress. Let’s take a look at average send quantities by day.

The charts from eDataSource are below in alphabetical order.

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Each company has a different best day for read rates – but one is working to optimize this by sending more on these days and one isn’t.

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Groupon is sending its highest average volumes on Monday, Thursday and Friday – with Monday and Friday also being days with top read rates. Living Social is optimizing on Wednesdays, but otherwise they appear to be missing the boat. Their other top days for read rates are Saturday and Sunday, days with their lowest send volumes of the week.

Just to be clear: I’m not suggesting that these are magic fixes which will boost Living Social’s performance, but they are small things that could be tested to see if things improve.

Want to read more of my findings?
There was so much to cover on this topic that I’ve written two companion pieces to this blog post, both focused on Living Social and the daily deals industry but with ideas and lessons you can use in any industry to improve your email marketing. Check out:

Is Living Social Overly Dependent on Email? My most recent Email Marketing column for ClickZ
Revenue per Email: How Does Living Social Stack Up? on my blog

 

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