The secret to email marketing success: delivering relevance
The only way to keep your customers on board is to learn about them and connect with them in a relevant way, explains columnist James Green.
It’s no secret why marketers rely on and continue to invest in email. In 2015, there were more than 4.35 billion email accounts and nearly 2.6 billion email users worldwide. And according to eMarketer’s Retail Email Marketing: Benchmarks and Trends in the US, internet users of all ages continue to open promotional emails, welcome targeted messages when shopping and think of email as a preferred channel for interacting with retailers.
While you might assume young adults have abandoned email for other channels, checking and sending email is still the leading digital activity for 18- to 34-year-olds. The fact is, customers still love their email.
But here’s the catch: You’ll only succeed with email if you deliver relevant content. We know that spamming customers isn’t the answer, and sending email that doesn’t align with your consumers’ interests doesn’t move the revenue needle, either.
Your audience will be most receptive to messages about merchandise they have already shown interest in, explicitly or passively.
Providing relevancy to your customers
There are two distinct ways to determine what products to feature within an email and when to send it. The first is focused on consumer actions, where emails (aka triggers) are sent and optimized based on a specific touch point or on-site interaction.
For example, you abandon a cart, and as a result, you get an email featuring that very product enticing you to come back. Sending triggered emails based on specific actions by the customer is a smart way to reclaim lost sales and catch a customer at just the right time, while engagement is still high.
Triggered emails also can be used proactively to cross-sell and upsell customers. For example, you can cross-reference catalog events (like sales and new arrivals) with subscribers’ profiles, which allow you to recommend products that match an individual’s interest.
According to email performance data from Magnetic (my employer), 22 percent of orders placed as a result of email recommendations will happen within the first hour, and 47 percent will happen within the first day.
Additionally, a study conducted by eMarketer shows the number of email users and the advertising spend on email in the US have steadily increased since 2014 and are predicted to continue to rise through 2018.
Email expectations and marketing realities
Even though email is generally well integrated into a marketer’s strategy, people still are not getting the experience they want and expect. A study conducted by Magnetic and Retail Touchpoints revealed that 78 percent of consumers expect retailers to deliver tailored email promotions, and 44 percent want retailers to give them more product recommendations.
However, of the 100 retailers that participated in the study, only 55 percent of respondents said that they currently send emails featuring relevant information to their customers, such as reviews, recommendations, sales and trends.
Consumers have grown to desire a certain degree of personalization in their interactions with brands. With the right mix of customer information and data science, marketers should be able to lean more heavily on algorithms to push out the recommendations that people want and expect.
Raising the bar for relevance
Email has evolved beyond the inbox, and when it’s coordinated with other channels where your customers engage, you can learn more about them (what they like, value and search for) and make recommendations that you may not have been able to make before.
You can populate emails with more than just the items that shoppers left behind and use predictive algorithms to add personalized recommendations based on the visitor’s explicit intent and behaviors happening across the web.
For example, if you know I am a price-sensitive shopper based on actions I’ve taken beyond your site and you’re featuring a sale, wouldn’t you like to send me an offer to participate in your promotion? This is an example of using additional customer signals to guide your email recommendations.
You also can turn on other channels like display advertising and activate email retargeting, which is coordinated with email opens and interactions. After someone receives an email, you have the ability to show a corresponding ad and further influence them to come to your site.
Email is one of the best one-to-one communication channels available. Once you’ve learned more about your customers and connect with them in a relevant, meaningful way, you can draw them back through the inbox and build the long-term, relevant relationship you need and they want.
Don’t underestimate the opportunities within email and the role that it plays in the future of personalization.