When it comes to email marketing, many involved in the creation of fresh, engaging and original content will be familiar with the challenges of constantly coming up with new ideas. This is especially true in an age where cutting through the noise is becoming incredibly difficult.
Email inboxes are flooded with messages on a daily basis, and with the world continuing to digitise around us, control has shifted towards consumers who are now more enabled to filter out the messages they do and do not want to see. Sometimes, technology can even make this decision for them - if an email campaign is failing to resonate, for example, a lack of interaction will signal to algorithms that messages from the sender should filter to spam. As such, brands need to work much harder to encourage interaction.
Today, consumers want better dialogue from brands. This has arguably been driven by the likes of Amazon and other digital conglomerates who have perfected the art of an excellent online customer experience. Amazon is synonymous with convenience and speed, which - let’s face it - counts for a lot in modern society. For example, some of the worst parts about shopping online include having to re-enter delivery addresses and bank details every single time you go to check-out. This alongside having inflexible delivery options and having to scroll through endless numbers of pages to find the products you actually want. All these aspects can lead to a clunky and hugely frustrating shopping experience.
As a consumer, we hand over our data in the hope of enjoying a somewhat better experience - many of us will gladly choose to let retailers remember our details in return for a more personalised service. As individuals, we expect to be recognised for our unique behaviour and preferences, and therefore presented with relevant opportunities or messages of genuine value.
Creative use of data
Sending messages of real value to customers comes down to effectively leveraging data and insight and using this creatively to craft a truly unique experience. There are several different ways to leverage customer information and create stand-out content.
Recommendation engines, for example, are tried and tested – Amazon itself has suggested that recommendations improve click through rates by 60%, while other retailers have claimed they can go even further in driving interaction. Brands using this tool are proving to customers that they know them, understand their needs and can offer a highly relevant online experience that reflects this.
Email campaigns can be built using this same advanced technology; insights from purchase history, real-time behaviour and purchase intent can be pulled together and analysed, meaning exactly the right recommendations reach individual recipients with a unique and personalised message. This content is ultimately useful to the recipient – and ‘usefulness’ is key. When a brand becomes helpful, it becomes convenient and serves to build trust with the customer. A recipient is more likely to notice and interact with helpful content.
Open-time content is another way to capture the attention of recipients with relevant information at the exact moment they open an email. A person browsing for a holiday can be presented with real-time pricing and availability on the hotels or packages they have recently viewed, or a customer browsing for festival outfits can be presented with a live countdown in order to create a sense of urgency and encourage quicker purchases. Highlighting the buying behaviour of other shoppers can have the same effect; the #trending feature used by Missguided, for example, is designed to make hesitant customers feel stylish and ‘on-trend’, and therefore more encouraged to purchase the item before it runs out of stock.
Trial and error are key
Analytics are one of the most useful resources available to email marketers, as they allow teams to test, learn and continually optimise.
Marketers often obsess over the best time to send an email, the best subject line to use and the best tools to implement. Although it can be tempting to think that broadcasting messages to a segmented audience at the right time is still the best way, the reality is that every customer is different. To cater to this, there is now the technology available to optimise the best time to send an email and the most successful subject headings based on individual recipient behaviour and when they are most likely to open it. Granular insights can reveal even deeper understandings such as where individual recipients click within the email, on which devices they tend to open it and where in the world these interactions are happening. The beauty of analytics means marketers can see what’s working, what isn’t and trial new ways of engaging individual recipients. Similarly, the automation tools available mean that this is no longer a laborious or tricky process for marketing teams.
Brands of all shapes and sizes have a huge opportunity to use customer insight creatively. By taking a moment to ask the question; ‘What would I think?’ new avenues for creativity start to form, followed by a desire to push boundaries and standout against other messages invading the inbox. The power rests firmly in the hands of those with a creative appetite. Data doesn’t necessarily provide all the ideas, but it does provide an opportunity to validate, test and try them. From here, brands can embark on building an emotional dialogue, which resonates with customers and really offers stand out alongside the competition.
By Mark Ash, CEO, Pure360
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