The rise of social media/digital buzzwords in advertising, that aim to help brands reach consumers, have overshadowed effective communication methods like email. However, when it comes to ROI, email marketing cannot be cast aside. Econsultancy ranks email marketing as the best channel in terms of achieving ROI, with 68% of companies rating the channel as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

This is echoed by consumer behaviour, with more than 204 million emails sent each minute, a significant amount more than the 2.4 million Facebook shares and 277,000 tweets during the same time frame, according to Domo.

So how can marketers ensure they get the best ROI out of their email campaigns?

Strategy is key

Outlining clear objectives and an approach at the beginning is fundamental to achieve success. The email marketing strategy must be aligned to the brand’s business objectives – this is the basis for any campaign – and must be tailored to generate a single customer view. When Moss Bros re-launched their website, for instance, the aim was to optimise the customer journey using personalisation. To do this, it had to connect the dots between the data collected at different touch points along the customer journey. Ultimately all brands’ strategies are unique to their business but outlining the key objectives at the beginning of the campaign provides structure to help generate optimum ROI.

Evolving the campaign and embracing change

It’s important to map out the customer journey at the start of all digital strategies, highlighting every touch point the brand will have with consumers. This is the same for email marketing campaigns, as they have a goal to progress a recipient through the journey. Mapping helps organisations to identify points of difficulty that might be affecting the customer journey. Recognising barriers and identifying where change is necessary, is key. The Co-operative Travel and its pre-departure campaign, travels with the consumer from the point of booking until returning back from holiday. By increasing unique open rates by 26%, more than the industry average for the Travel & Tourism sector, The Co-operative Travel understood and identified their customer journey, prolonging their interactions with consumers and encouraging regular engagement. This enhanced the recipient’s experience and enabled the company to promote the up-selling of any additional products relevant to the customer.

The personal touch

With consumers receiving an influx of emails on an hourly basis, it’s important that brands’ email campaigns are personalised and relevant to the customer, throughout every step of the journey. The 2014 Consumer and Marketer Personalisation Study, conducted by RedShift Research, highlights 31 per cent of consumers would be more likely to make purchases if they were offered personalised experiences. By delivering emails that are personalised at ‘open-time’, brands can ensure emails are up-to-date and relevant to the consumer. Birthday and anniversary email campaigns, for example, provide successful open and click through rates due to the personal connection they make with the consumer. Personalisation is also key when re-engaging customers and a different customer journey is required for recipients who are long term un-engaged to those that are highly engaged. It’s important to understand why your customers aren’t engaging with content and then create personalised campaigns to rectify such issues.

Joining the dots

With any campaign, data should be used to connect the dots and generate a clear vision of the journey and track the effects on ROI. With the rise of cross-device usage, understanding data to inform brands of the full customer experience has never been greater. Jacques Vert Group uses behavioural data to segment their database based on customer engagement with their emails. Consequently, they can specifically target different customer types with email communications tailored to the individual. On a recent panel discussion around ROI in email marketing, this issue was highlighted explaining how some companies are yet to join the dots when it comes to using data and engaging their audience effectively. Millennials have different tastes and priorities to the retired generation, so brands must understand and maximise their use of audience data to ensure emails are tailored to different demographics.

It’s all about measurement

The ability to measure the campaign’s success is important to engage customers effectively. It’s no use just measuring campaign-by-campaign or email-by-email, brands must record and benchmark success over time to see what is generating success. This goes back to the importance of mapping out the customer journey to see which touch points generate the most ROI. After all, measurement of other digital channels such as SEO and PPC wouldn’t be based on a single campaign but more about establishing averages alongside peaks and troughs.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. For email marketing to continue to generate successful ROI, a customer-centric and personalised approach is integral.

See also: PerformanceIN interview with Jenna Tiffany, Communicator, on ‘The State of Email Marketing in 2015’