Can The Timehop Concept Work For Email Marketing?
Columnist Jason Warnock believes marketers can apply the ideas behind the popular flashback app to create a powerful email marketing strategy.
With more than six million daily users, the Timehop app has clearly resonated with consumers. It’s a fun app, but it can also feel a little daunting because it forces you to face moments from your past by automatically retrieving old photos and posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
Like other successful apps, Timehop has spawned a wave of knockoffs eager to take advantage of the concept. For example, earlier this year, Facebook released “On This Day,” a feature that integrates the Timehop concept into the platform’s user experience.
As the popularity of the Timehop concept continues to expand, the big question is whether or not flashback features have a practical application for brands. Specifically, is it possible to hijack the Timehop concept as an email marketing strategy?
Why Timehop And Email Marketing Are A Great Match
There’s a strong case for incorporating the Timehop concept and flashback features into email marketing campaigns. Triggered emails that remind customers of previous purchases and incentivize them to make additional purchases of similar items have the potential to deliver significant wins for online retailers, as well as consumers.
These are a few Timehop concepts that you could integrate into email marketing campaigns:
• Nostalgia. One of the reasons Timehop has been so successful is that it taps into consumers’ nostalgic tendencies.
While Timehop, On This Day and other applications allow users to reminisce about key moments in their personal lives, flashback-themed emails allow consumers to relive emotional connections with their favorite products and invite them to create new connections through additional purchases.
• Returning Customers. The marriage of the Timehop concept with email marketing targets consumers who have already made similar purchase decisions.
The people who receive triggered “remember when” emails are preconditioned to convert because they have previously purchased the item (or a similar one) from the brand. The result is higher conversion rates and better ROI than email campaigns that target first-time buyers.
• Buying Cycles. By integrating the flashback concept into email marketing, brands gain an entry point to consumers’ natural buying cycles.
In many cases, consumers buy certain types of products at specific times of the year or at regular intervals. This enables brands to send a fun and friendly reminder that it’s time to replace or restock a previous purchase.
How To Apply The Timehop Concept To Email Marketing
Like other successful email marketing tactics, the Timehop concept has to be used strategically. Simply sending customers email reminders about past purchases isn’t enough.
Instead, brands and marketers need to design emails that align customers’ purchase history with their current needs.
With that in mind, there are at least three factors that marketers need to weigh when developing email strategies based on the Timehop or flashback concept.
1. Seasonality. The Timehop concept is ideal for seasonal purchases. If a consumer purchases a seasonal item now, the most opportune moment to present a promotion for a similar item will be 12 months from now because that’s when the consumer will be most likely to purchase a similar item or items within the same seasonal product category.
Consider the apparel industry. Footwear is one of the fastest-growing categories in online apparel, and nearly a quarter of all fashion footwear sales are currently generated online, making footwear a natural fit for flashback emails.
Let’s say a customer purchased a pair of boots last October, during the prime season for boot sales. By sending the customer a Timehop-themed email this October, the brand can remind the individual about last year’s purchase and offer suggestions for additional purchases at the peak of this year’s boot season, when the customer is most likely to make a seasonal footwear purchase.
2. Durability. It’s also important to consider the durability of certain types of products when developing Timehop-based email marketing campaigns. Some products wear out or need to be replaced more quickly than others, making them perfect candidates for flashback-style email promotions.
Returning to the footwear industry, it’s unlikely that large numbers of customers will buy new boots every year, because they tend to be fairly durable. But not all types of shoes have similar durability. For example, running shoes only last an average of 300 to 500 miles. Avid runners can rack up that kind of mileage in a few months.
So by combining the Timehop concept with data about the customer’s running habits, marketers can present perfectly timed emails that remind the customer about his last purchase and enable him to effortlessly reorder the same pair of running shoes or select a different product based on suggestions offered by the retailer.
3. Fashionability. It’s a mistake to downplay the impact that consumer trends and fashionability have on the effectiveness of triggered email campaigns. The fact that a consumer purchased an item in the past does not guarantee they will be willing to purchase the same product now (How many people do you see walking around with fanny packs these days?).
The need to align flashback emails with current trends is critical for fashion brands. For example, a footwear retailer probably wouldn’t want to use a Timehop-style email campaign to encourage customers to purchase another pair of Crocs. But the Timehop concept could be leveraged to present past Crocs buyers with suggestions for alternative casual footwear products.
It’s difficult to predict how long consumers’ fascination with the Timehop app will last. But the concept behind it is solid.
By delivering enhanced email reminders about past purchases and presenting customers with opportunities to make additional purchases of similar products, brands and marketers can increase loyalty and forge meaningful connections with the right audiences at the most opportune times.