No one would disagree that data is crucial to a successful email marketing campaign. In fact, for any organisation looking to positively influence and engage their customers, obtaining a deep understanding of their needs and requirements is essential to creating memorable, relevant and influential email campaigns.

Simply relying on information collected from a preference centre is no longer enough. It does not go far enough to providing the full 360 degree view of the customer. Live browsing behaviours, variants in how recipients interact with content, right through to the sentiment of their social media interactions, are now all playing a part in defining the much sought after single customer view. However, you need to be careful that you do not buckle under a deluge of data. Brands that do not invest in the right technology and capability to dissect and interpret the increasing amount of data available to them will be unable to monetise it in the right way.

That said, even if you have segmented your customer data effectively and you are targeting them regularly with relevant messages, you are not taking full advantage of the opportunities available to you.

With e-commerce spending per head now exceeding £100 per year, the increasing spread of 4G and the fact that smartphone penetration in the UK is expected to hit 66.7% by the end of year, the number of opportunities for customer contact is continually increasing. Brands therefore need to be ready to adapt and use this increased level of connectivity to their advantage, in order to avoid being overshadowed or overtaken by their competitors.

Personalised emails are an important part of this mix, but if retailers are to capitalise on the increasing number of touch points, when customers are travelling to work or the pub, when people are most likely on social media or email, they need to be far more proactive. You have to know what will emotionally influence your customers to engage, what to send them and at what time, plus understand each customers’ “moment of truth” or trigger point that you can exploit.

These moments of truth are those rare instances when customers are most receptive to interactions. They are those points when, if given the information they need to make a decision, they will, especially if you make their life easier. Marketers therefore need to look at redefining the customer/retailer/brand relationship and move beyond personalisation, if they are to delve deeper into the triggers that drive consumers to progress down the path to purchase.

So how do you go about delving deeper into the triggers that drive consumers to progress down the path to purchase?

Essentially you need to identify the crucial decisions in the buying process, which motivate your customers. What makes your customer go through/not go through with purchasing an item? Are they concerned by price? Or is the range or specification of products not to their liking? Are they purely browsing for research purposes before opting to buy from one of your competitors? Are they actually ready to buy? Or are there other factors at play?

These questions should provide you with enough insight into determining the “moment of truth” in each of these scenarios. Ultimately you want to find out if there is a way of securing the sale and what the most effective approach to do so is?

Whilst your regular monthly newsletter is designed to keep your customers informed and help you retain a high level of visibility, it is important your campaigns go beyond that. With the threat of “showrooming” looming large over the high-street, retailers need to continue to implement and deliver their highly personalised campaigns.

Halfords, originally focused on a traditional blanket email strategy to interact with their customers, but as their online store has grown they recognised a need for a more reactive and engaging approach, which went beyond simply adopting a personalised method.

Rather than using data from their preference centre to create personalised, targeted messages, Halfords was keen to investigate why customers were abandoning their online shopping baskets at various stages of the purchase process, with the specific focus on pinpointing the moments which were driving or turning customers away from buying goods online. These lost customers were highlighted as vital targets for a well-crafted email campaign.

The primary aim of these messages remained traditional, driving customers to the online store. In order to do this, they were keen to see whether a targeted email campaign could help to re-engage those lost customers, through relevant offers which would result in increased sales.

In this instance Halford’s was able to capitalise on the key moments of truth in their customers lives and fulfil them instantly. The customer gained valuable insight and Halfords saw engagement and interaction increase.

Since Halfords upgraded its email strategy to include web analytics software, open rates have risen to over 25%, with click through rates jumping to 8.5%. In terms of sales and overall return on investment, weekly sales revenues typically vary from 80% to 150% of the cost of the initial deployment.

Whilst this is just one example, this approach emphasises a far more strategic approach to email marketing. There will always be opportunities to jump on the back of one off live events, but the retailers that fully understand and continually look at how they can enrich their customers’ lives will be the ones that reap the biggest benefits.