Jan 8, 2013

AOL and Hotmail Users Spend More than Gmail Users, and Other Research Finds

Now that the holiday rush is behind us, it’s time to recap some fun research finds from 2012.

We’ve updated our research page, so check it out for any details I gloss over here. Let’s get started.

AOL and Hotmail readers spend more than Gmail readers

Using our eCommerce360 feature, users are able to track their customers from a MailChimp email campaign all the way to an order on their website. The user can then pass this order information back to MailChimp to keep track of their subscribers’ purchases and the return of each email campaign.

For MailChimp users conducting online retail, tracking purchases beats the pants off merely tracking clicks, so over the past year we’ve built up a lot of eCommerce360 data from those who are syncing email address purchase data back to us.

Well, we wondered if we could use this data to say anything about the spending habits of email addresses by domain. For example, do AOL users spend more than Gmail users?

It’s a deceptively simple question, but our users operate across the globe in all sorts of currencies. (I didn’t know there were 20,000 Vietnamese Dong in 1 US dollar until I started trying to answer this question.) Furthermore, each list in each MailChimp account has different emails and domains on it, so both AOL and Gmail, for example, may not be present on the same list.

We managed to get around these difficulties by staging one-on-one fights between any two email addresses making eCommerce360 orders in a user’s account. This yielded individual data points of the form, "RoryGilmore@yahoo.com spent 10% more on user X than JessMariano@gmail.com." Once everything had been transformed from raw currency into percents, we then aggregated to the domain level across all users.

What we found was surprising:

Read the chart from top to bottom. Hotmail email addresses tend to spend more than the other big ISPs. A full 6% more than Yahoo addresses! Gmail and Comcast clock in at the low end.

The operating theory right now is that Hotmail and AOL addresses skew older in age and hence have more disposable income. Right now a 16 year old is more likely to sign up for a Gmail address than an AOL address, but I doubt they’re dropping their minimum wage dollars on Crate & Barrel couches just yet.  If you’ve got a different theory, drop in a comment.

Get out of the Daily Deals business and into the Priesthood

We’ve updated the stats by industry and stats by business size pages, and some really interesting facts bubbled up.

For example, daily deals have the lowest average campaign open rate at 19%, while religious newsletters have the highest at 48%. Overall, photo and video businesses engage users extremely well from both an opens and clicks perspective.

From an abuse perspective, the construction industry, interestingly enough, has the highest abuse and hard bounce rates. Daily deals actually have some of the lowest unsub, abuse, and bounce numbers.

So why would daily deals have some of the worst engagement but some of the best scores regarding negative feedback? First of all, if you’re being flogged deals each day, there’s a chance you’re going to disengage, become a zombie, relegate the mail to a folder, etc. By that same token, however, you’re too disengaged to unsubscribe or click the spam button. The mail is just background noise to be ignored, both positively and negatively.

We’ve said it before: Purchased lists are bad news

We buy purchased lists, usually from the trunk of an Albanian’s car, obscured by the shadows of an empty parking garage. The loose piles of printed email addresses flutter in the breeze when we stuff them into the inner breast pockets of our khaki trenchcoats.

No, it’s less noir than that. Heck, some users actually fess up and just tell us they’ve uploaded one (thanks for that, by the way).

We then push the lists into the Email Genome Project database, where we compare them to our users’ lists. If a user’s list comes up as a match with a purchased list, things get ugly.

But why? Is our anti-purchased list stance just an aesthetic or moral one? Sure, but it’s also a pragmatic one. Purchased lists lead to the kind of stats that get ISPs to block our IP addresses.

For 2012, here’s how complaint rates rose with a user’s correlation with our purchased list database:

In the graph above, we can see that a 100% purchased list has an abuse rate nearly 6 times higher than a 0% purchase correlated list. Yikes!

Check out the rest

These’s more goodness where those three stats came from, so take look at our research and get some knowledge!