Why CX email marketing matters
The old models of customer communications through marketing are evolving to meet the needs and expectations of newly empowered customers.
Email marketing was once a one-way channel – one message pushed out to many recipients. Naturally, a good marketer did some research to find out what was on the customer’s mind and used the findings to shape the messages. Still the primary message was, “Buy this!”
All that is changing now that we know more about how our customers experience our brands, and how those experiences shape their perceptions and willingness to engage with us.
Customers don’t want to be marketed to or, even worse, to be blasted with irrelevant messages that treat them only like numbers in a database. Instead, they want evidence that brands recognise them as individuals with email campaigns that address their needs, concerns, interests, and history with a company or brand.
CX email marketing finds the balance between customer and company goals
Automation and wider use of customer data allow businesses to send these highly personalised messages. But companies also have to consider their own goals and objectives, not just for their own marketing programmes, but for the entire company’s benefit.
You see the conflict right away. How do we as brands balance our business objectives with our customers’ needs?
The answer: By being helpful, personalised, and customer-centric we meet their needs and objectives. Because we help them in this way, and better than competing brands, they engage with us and, by doing so, help us achieve our goals.
The rise of customer experience email marketing
The concept of CX email marketing asks a brand to organise its email marketing programme to answer this simple question: “How do my emails help my customers achieve their own goals and objectives and be successful in the parts of their lives that my products/services touch?”
CX email marketing is a major force in the rise of marketing that centres on relationships, rather than brand-focused, one-size-fits-all campaigns, to build sales and grow profits. It means not doing what’s easy for us only by repeating what worked in the past.
It means putting the customer’s needs, interests, and objectives first throughout the customer journey.
Naturally, we don’t ignore our objectives. Instead, we stay focused on them by developing strategies that support our goals and objectives.
Then, based on that strategy, we optimise tactics based on the three pillars of customer experience email marketing.
“More brands are recognising the critical role that email marketing plays in the customer experience. It’s the centre of every digital relationship and when focused on, ever-changing consumer preferences, behaviours, and context can sustain a customer throughout their lifecycle with a brand.” – Dave Holland, Regional Director, Liveclicker
Three pillars of CX email marketing
Three pillars form the foundation of CX email marketing: helpfulness, personalisation, and customer-focused. Each shares some service-orientated attributes with the other two, but also plays a distinct and vital role in building your CX email marketing programme.
These are elements in a message that would help your subscribers, customers or users be successful in achieving their objectives, however grand or simple. They can be anything that we can do to make the customer experience better. The below list is not exhaustive:
- Subject lines that set expectations and don’t mislead.
- Content that delivers upon the subject line and doesn’t make you work hard to find what the subject line promised.
- Contextual elements such as an in-message map showing your closest location based either on the customer’s address in your database or a real-time location element based on where your customer opens your email.
- The most current offer being promoted on the website based on the time of email open.
- A low-inventory warning on a product your customer has browsed.
- Links to your customer-support service for customers who broke off a process such as a purchase, download or registration.
- Personalised charts for loyalty points, rewards, and customer savings.
- Emails that explain how to buy or use your product.
- Current pricing, product availability, imagery – consistent with website.
We usually think of personalisation as the end product– the use of data to introduce personally relevant information in either a mass or triggered email message.
But true personalisation is more than that. It’s a strategy – the plan that helps you achieve your objective – as well as a tactic – the tool you use to carry out your strategy. It’s not just merging the customer’s name into the subject line or a greeting in the message.
Instead, it’s about using preference data in segmentation, behavioural data in triggered messaging, or contextual elements like those that make a message more helpful, and which underscore the customer-centricity of your emails.
This last aspect of personalisation – contextual personalisation – is a fast-growing technology that essentially takes marketers on the final step of the journey from broadcast to 1:1 messaging at scale. And the good news is that it’s easy – you don’t even need your database connected as it uses moment-of-open technology.
Contextual personalisation incorporates real-time data that can change every time your subscriber opens the message, whether it’s to show changing weather conditions; in-email polls for profile building and future targeting; in-message shipment tracking; a location map that changes based on where the recipient is when they open the message; and any number of other options.
This element of CX email marketing should be the easiest to achieve because it relies mainly on copy tone and focus. But, it’s actually the hardest because it forces marketers to change their habits. They need to reverse their focus and concentrate on showing how their products benefit customers instead of just listing features.
As marketers, we’re trained to sell a product on its features, or attributes – what it does, how it works, what makes it different from others. That can elicit a big shrug from consumers. “What’s in it for me?” they wonder. That takes their eyes off a potential purchase.
A customer-centric approach puts you in front of your customers by showing them what’s in it for them before they think of that question. You’re doing the work for them, and that takes more friction out of the buying process.
Moving to CX email marketing that focuses on benefits over features is easier said than done, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we seem to think. Changing your marketing mindset takes time, but the results will be evident and positive.
A good place to start is when you identify the objective of the email. Is it to sell products or services, register for a webinar, inform and educate? Good! Write that down. Now, flip it and take the customer’s perspective and write it down. Your goal is to achieve both your brand’s objective as well as your customer’s.