Email marketing has long been a stalwart in the marketer’s arsenal, and brands have found so many ways to adapt the medium to suit their needs. These days, the average consumer’s inbox is like a window into swirling maelstrom of offers, discount codes and new releases. But have marketers stretched the humble email too far? With consumers becoming more and more saturated by content, how can email fight the rising tide and stay relevant to the consumer?
The effectiveness of email as a vital marketing resource has remained gratefully high, and brands and agencies are continuously innovating and developing new ways to increase their revenue from this flexible platform. As a tried-and-tested method, email can’t be faulted on its adaptability to meet the individual needs of brands and the consumers that they are trying to reach.
That’s not to say that email marketing is without competition. Growing steadily over the past several years, and still gathering momentum, social is no longer the dark horse when it comes to creating that customer impact. With consumers checking their smartphones and social media pages multiple times a day, and platforms offering their own dedicated analytics, social media is becoming more and more brand-friendly in terms of making those customer connections. But can this still relatively experimental platform really hold up to email’s well-established reign?
Ivan Mazour, CEO, Ometria, doesn’t think so. “It’s important for retailers to see email campaigns in the context of their wider customer life-cycle strategy,” he says. “[…] a complete customer life-cycle strategy will include everything from cart abandonment campaigns to complex email series aimed at, say, activating a customer when it’s time for them to make a repeat purchase, or reactivating customers who have lapsed.”
Contemporary womenswear brand Finery, partners of Ometria, agree that email’s flexibility particularly lends itself to cementing relationships with customers, even those who may have drifted. “It is cheaper to make a customer purchase again than to find or convert a lead[…] ‘even unhappy or dissatisfied’ customers are willing to leave constructive feedback and will give you a second chance provided that you communicate well and offer them an appropriate next step- often a second chance discount.” Says Olivia Delebarre, marketing manager.
Hello Inbox, My Old Friend
In a constantly evolving digital space, the consistency and familiarity of email is continuing to connect with people from a wide demographic: “The new technologies, from chat apps to social media, are relevant only to the newest generation, who have yet to get the level of disposable income that makes them vital to retailers[…] As of right now, consumers are used to, and happy to be, receiving emails from every type of source, friends, family, colleagues and brands trying to sell to them.”
Happy, of course is a tenuous term when it comes to email marketing, as personalisation really is vital to keeping your consumers engaged on this platform. Sylvain Piquet, VP Sales and Strategy, Criteo, says: “Traditional, static, design-led mass marketing emails are no longer engaging, whereas intelligent automation and personalised content can be the key to pique interest.” Email might be a familiar and consistently performing platform for marketers, but that doesn’t mean it’s without scope for regular development and innovation. According to Criteo’s Performance Metrics, “email conversion rates are five times higher than social media and 1.5 times higher than non-personalised display advertising.” Piquet adds that “email is a channel that still has considerable potential to be optimised and improved, rather than replaced by newer (or social) platforms.”
A Plan For The Future
But does email have anything to fear from social media’s rise in popularity? Perhaps not just yet. “Email as a consumer channel is streets ahead in the consumer preference stakes, with 67 per cent citing email as their favourite channel to be contacted by brands, followed by Facebook with just 12 per cent.” Says Mazour. Email’s considerable lead stands them in good stead for the next several years, or at least until the millennials have reached that higher disposable income bracket. “The most effective ecommerce marketing campaigns will target consumers on the platform that they are most likely to interact with your brand on.” The effectiveness of email will depend on its continued relevance to individuals, just like social media. But Delebarre can see efficiency in social’s wide outreach. “Reaching out to audiences is easier on social media. But once someone has engaged with your brand, email marketing will always be a very powerful tool to keep your audience engaged in the long term.”
The key take away, however, is never to underestimate the power of personalisation in wooing your customers. Whatever the future holds for customer-brand communication, it’s the personal touch that will keep them coming back for more. “Personalisation is key,” says Mazour. “[…] whether that’s email, social, web or app-based push notifications, direct mail, or indeed a channel that hasn’t even been invented yet.”