Done smartly, email can bring marketers the highest return on investment of all the media platforms. But email marketing can only be successful at the highest levels for marketers who understand customer expectations and new email trends and who explore ways to meet those expectations and play to those trends. That’s one of the top takeaways from a new report by Adobe, the digital marketing and media solutions company.
“Today’s consumers respond differently to email,” the report says. “They prefer to first read them on their smartphones and then perform follow-up activities, like purchases, on their tablet or laptop. And they expect emails to be visually attractive and easy to read on each device.”
Marketers must know their customers to determine which content and offers will resonate with them, the report says. And they must “deftly deliver those experiences while taking into account the customer’s location, device, on-site behavior and relationship to their brand.”
The report offers several guidelines that marketers need to follow if they want to get the most out of their email marketing campaigns.
• Follow the customer through the consumer lifecycle
When creating email marketing campaigns, brands need to consider the stage of the customer relative to the “customer lifecycle.” Have they converted and become customers? Are they active, repeat customers? Are they loyal customers and brand evangelists? Have they stopped interacting with the brand? “Each stage requires a different approach and content,” the report says. “Tactics like triggered emails and remarketing can start, strengthen, or breathe new life into customer relationships by emailing customers with offers at opportune times.”
• Trigger emails at key moments
The timing of an email message makes all the difference between relevance and irrelevance, the report says. Triggered messages like a welcome email after joining a loyalty program; a follow-up message after cart abandonment, or a customer service call; or a thank-you email after making an online or in-store purchase; lets brands react in real-time to key moments in the customer lifecycle.
“These types of emails can have a significant, positive impact on a customer’s relationship with the brand,” the report says. “Northern Europe fashion retailer Lindex used this tactic to increase open rates from 18% to 35%.”
Triggered emails can lead to more personalized communications and relationship between the brand and the consumer. But the report also warns marketers to not wear out their welcome. “Customers receive volumes of unwanted email, sometimes even from brands they love. When they don’t respond to a certain number of emails, adjust the channel and frequency of your communication.”
• Remarketing: An opportunity not to be missed
The report says when customers place an item into an online shopping cart, they may have intended to buy it, but found the checkout process too difficult or time-consuming to complete. Or they might just be satisfying a craving to shop, or maybe be pricing the full cost of the item with shopping for a later purchase.
The report adds that customers abandon merchandise “to the tune of approximately $4 trillion each year.” But it also cites a survey that determined that as much as $2.65 trillion, or 63% of that abandoned value can be reclaimed.
“Remarketing, sometimes called retargeting, is one of the biggest opportunities for revenue gain,” the report says. “Remarketing isn’t limited to abandoned shopping carts. [Brands] can also remarket to those who have completed purchases with related offers and products.”
• Tailor content for each customer and target emails based on a 360-degree customer view
Sending consumers smarter, better-performing and more personalized content requires a broad knowledge of each customer. Information on each consumer based on the brand’s interaction with that customer needs to be captured and stored in a central location where it can be referred to and used for targeting. And providing more specific content for each customer will require more content creation by the brand.
• Put customers in charge of their email experience
The report suggests marketers create a customer “preference center” which consumers can easily access and determine how much email interaction they want to have with a brand. “Your preference center can allow them to opt down and choose a lesser frequency of email delivery or change their topics of interest. They can choose how often they want to hear from you, and you might even let them choose what day of the week they’d like their emails. You can find out their interests and increase the likelihood that they will engage with your mailings.”
• Show customers you know them with personalization
The reports says “one-size-fits-all approaches to email campaigns must be put out to pasture in favor of campaigns that treat recipients as individuals, not members of a herd.” It adds, “Serving your customers personalized content…increases the likelihood that they’ll take the action you want them to take, like click-through to a product page or make a purchase.”
• Render emails using responsive design
The report cites studies that show people open 61% of emails on mobile devices, however, 80% of them will delete those emails if they don’t look good when they open them—and 18% will actually unsubscribe. Conversely, case studies show that responsive design in emails works, increasing open rates by 15%-17% and click-through rates by 21%-24%.