Email has for a long time enjoyed its place at the top of the charts in terms of customer engagement and ROI. As a medium, email is tactile and adaptable, and offers brands a wide variety of ways to catch the eyes of their potential consumers. But it’s more important than ever for email to be on the top of its game when it comes to engagement and personalisation. We take a look at some of the challenges and triumphs facing email marketing today.
Standing out in the inbox is a challenge, when you are competing against a myriad of other brands, social media networks and spam fluttering around in the digital ether. But there are numerous tools which marketers can employ to make their emails more than just a message. “Dynamic content is certainly making a big impact at the moment with more and more campaigns using countdown timers, animation, embedded video, points (for those retailers who have a loyalty system), and more!” Says Anca Staples, content executive, Adestra. “Email marketers have started to realise the potential of breaking the static nature of the email environment, and have done so in context and with purpose rather than just to tick a box.”
It’s Not Me, It’s You
And email marketers are right to up their game- with inboxes filling up fast, and consumers being bombarded with confusing and sometimes contradictory information about what they should be buying and where, inactivity, and even deactivation, is a growing risk. This is only exacerbated by the fact that many consumers find that they are being sent emails that are simply not relevant to them. “Lack of targeting and relevancy, combined with increased frequency are driving inactivity in the inbox. Consumers receive more and more emails, but the time they have to check them hasn’t increased. So they tend to be more selective with what they dedicate their time to.” Relevance continues to be an unavoidable buzzword when it comes to email marketing. Wooing your potential consumer with deals and loyalty offers will soon lose its novelty. It’s only through dedicated and careful personalisation that you can be sure of maintaining that relevant dialogue with your customers. “You can start by segmenting your audience into seasonal buyers, frequent buyers and VIPs and sending messages based on that. It only requires a bit of data digging, but can be easily done without additional investment in tech.” Says Staples. “When you’re ready, move on to product recommendations, lifecycle programs and more complex targeted programs. Better to start small than not start at all.”
Don’t Be A Stalker
But what about customers who have already gone inactive? Are they lost? Well, no. But reactivation can be a delicate process, and runs the risk of alienating your target if not done correctly. Barraging your inactive members with personalised deals and recommendations has the potential to come across as, well, creepy. The last thing you want to do is give customers a reason to end their relationship with your brand once and for all. “Honesty works best with reactivation campaigns.” Suggests Staples. “Remind them of why they subscribed, and what value you bring to their inbox. Don’t distract people with unrelated offers and links – focus on driving clicks to that single call-to-action: ‘Yes, I’d still like to hear from you’.” In a recent campaign with Crabtree & Evelyn, Adestra’s non-invasive reactivation program saw a 30% re-engagement rate. While this does mean that some contacts were lost, this ultimately leads to cleaner, more accurate data, and stands your brand in good stead in the long run.
It Never Ends
It’s unfortunate that reactivation campaigns are necessary at all, but in the long term, email marketers must remain adaptable and keep the customer at the heart of the process when planning their next campaigns. “Email marketers must adopt a First-Person Marketing approach. This not only focuses on personalisation and giving subscribers a one-to-one email marketing experience, but it also involves constantly testing, optimising and refining your message and processes.” Says Staples. Consistent testing will ensure that you have an accurate overview of how your brand is perceived before inactivity strikes. The road to retention is just that- an ongoing journey. “It’s an iterative process rather than a destination, but again, start small and grow from there.”