Email comes in and out of fashion more than any other channel. However email is integral to most marketing strategies and whether it is part of brand awareness, customer acquisition or customer retention strategies, it is a highly cost effective channel which cannot be ignored. Furthermore as the online shifts to a mobile world, email key to communicating with customers across multiple devices.
So how do you go about understanding the value of email?
It has long been thought that the opens and clicks are the key indicators when it comes to email. This places little value on the branding impact of messages in the inbox that are not opened which is not dissimilar to display advertising. Most of us claim to ignore or not notice display marketing. However it has been shown that your brand is 7 times more likely to be searched for is they see display ads even without interacting. Similarly with TV advertising, many claim to ignore adverts but how many of us recognise the background music from an advert when we hear it out of context and still think of the brand or what it is trying to portray?
Returning to email, it is highly likely the customer has seen your brand name in the ‘from line’ and has taken note of your subject line which, if formulated well, will include your strongest marketing message within, even if they don’t intereact. The value of a from line should not be forgotten, ensure that even when using a third party mailer, your brand name is displayed. The interaction discussed here, although minor, may have sub-consciously put your brand on their radar.
Therefore when looking at the success of an email send, place some value of the delivery rate into the inbox.
Understanding your audience
This falls into two sections. Firstly, understanding which touch points in the consumer journey can benefit from communication via email and then secondly how you can use email to deliver a personalised message to your customer.
Email can be beneficial as a first point of communication in many verticals. For example, when considering travel offers, consumers are often enticed in by a strong deal but generally do research before they commit. Therefore you can reach a new audience using third party email acquisition campaigns but the majority of consumers’ last click will result from an alternative channel such as content or comparison sites. However by using email, you have sparked interest in a large audience at a relatively low cost.
This is also apparent in retail, where an email blast can drive a vast number of clicks in short space of time. If the email is correctly targeted, this can be a large number of valuable traffic landing on your site. In the retail vertical, it may be worth considering using lead generation and email in conjunction with each other, so that you include these consumers in your customer newsletter program.
If you are thinking of using email as a first touch point, ensure you can track the conversion journey. One way of doing this is by providing an exclusive voucher code. A major airline choose to do this, offering a 5% voucher code to customers. From the initial send of 100k, 2 sales were tracked directly. However when the conversion stats were supplied on the voucher code, 58 further sales were recorded. A second method would be using multi-channel attribution tracking. Google Analytics allows you to do this.
For lead generation, finance and competition, email is often useful as a final touch point. Email is perfect for these verticals as you can provide detailed information to both inform and qualify a prospective customer. For instance, in a Credit Card email, by ensuring you detail the benefits and acceptance criteria, you can reduce acquisition costs as you will not need to process a lot of applications that do not match your acceptance criteria.
Getting the copy right is critical as it will have a dramatic impact on results. In our experience testing different creative and different copy can improve results dramatically. The messages that resonate with you may not be the same ones that work with your target customers. Overall, when developing an email strategy consider the customer journey and provide the right level of information for each stage.
It is important to use email in conjunction with your other channels. Email can be the glue that connects channels together. For instance Social Media companies like Facebook use email extensively to keep their users informed. Businesses like Amazon and Ebay use email extensively to communicate with their customers. With close to 50% of emails being opened on a mobile device, it is important to design your campaigns for these devices as well as traditional screens. In today’s world everything is connected and email needs to be central to any integrated marketing program.
In this connected world it important to leverage each channel in support of the others. For instance many email lists are acquired through other web channels such as PPC or display. If you understand why they were interested in your brand when they signed up, you can segment your communications, improving response and increasing your return on investment.
It is also possible to use other channels such as social media to create your content. If there is a buzz around a certain product or even a seasonal event, use it to create your content. Consumer generated recommendations or comments are very powerful, although remember relevance is still key both in message and who you are sending it to.
It is also important to tap into your site analytics to discover what part of your website is most active and what content, or conversations generate the most traffic and then target your email to this. By discovering what motivates your audience, you can build a more effective email strategy.
Finally, use email to help your other channels. Don’t forget to use embedded links to your Twitter account, blogs and other social media channels.
To some marketers, Email is seen as an old technology. However if you look at any successful online business today, email is a key part of their multi-channel marketing strategy both in customer acquisition and retention programs. To get the most from email requires careful thought but the rewards are significant and many organisations find the return on investment is better than any other channel