How to Use Email Marketing as the Centerpiece of Your Digital Retail Innovation

April 13, 2017 Jonathan Crowl

email marketing

Retailers have invested in smart dressing rooms and mobile checkout. They have experimented with heat mapping in stores, as well as augmented reality. They continue to push their stores to the peak of innovation, looking to create an experience that builds customer loyalty, advocacy, and enthusiasm.

Yet one of the most consistent sources of high ROI continues to be email marketing. A tactic that’s almost as old as the internet itself, email remains highly influential on shoppers and is a must-use channel for any retail brand.

This will come to a surprise to the many retail executives who haven’t given email the weight it deserves. And that decision has come at a cost: according to research from Business Insider, retailers consistently see their email performance fall short of their organizational goals. While 50 percent of retailers hope that email will increase store spend, only 29 percent get those results.

This isn’t the fault of email as a marketing channel. Rather, this poor performance is caused by a failure to squeeze email for everything it’s worth. While the campaign channel has remained viable over decades, the best practices for that success have changed significantly. The machinations behind successful retail email leverage emerging technologies and automation tools to give them more value to consumers than ever before.

Is your retail brand missing the mark with email? It may be because you haven’t integrated these critical new strategies.

Messaging With a Personal Touch

Personalization comes in many forms nowadays, which makes sense: Marketers have access to huge amounts of consumer data, allowing them to target by demographics, location, and behavior while tapping resources like social media and online shopping profiles. Email is well-positioned to leverage some of this data for better personalization, and this means going beyond the form email that inserts the recipient’s name at the top (though this tactic will boost the chances of your email being opened). Think about how you can incorporate geolocation, for example.

The stakes for personalized email are high. According to research from MarketingSherpa, simple personalization in the subject line of an email increases its open rates by 29.3 percent across industries. The body of that email also needs to be relevant to the consumer: A study from Venture Beat discovered that 74 percent of online shoppers get frustrated by emails when their content has nothing to do with their interests.

Image attribution: Clem Onojeghuo

Image attribution: Clem Onojeghuo

Retail email is most successful when it offers the highest degree of relevance. Ideally, a single email can combine a number of personalized components to maximize interest from consumers. Personalized subject lines can refer to both the recipient and, ideally, an area of interest or a recent purchase. Personalized discounts and coupons tend to perform well, and recommendations can be made on past purchase history. Location is another layer that can be leveraged to ensure retailers aren’t trying to sell snowboards in Florida.

It’s important for brands to understand how email integrates into their larger content strategy and how personalization should be evident throughout the email. The subject line personalization is a great start, but better email engagement—meaning click-through rates, purchases and other actions—are driven by personalization that informs the body of the email, too. Multiple approaches to personalization can be leveraged at once in a single email, and consumers may be incorporated into several different segments or branded email campaigns depending on their behaviors and interests.

If you’re a marketer feeling drowned by these personalization challenges, don’t worry: although this segmentation and customization may look like a lot of work, there’s a better way to get it done.

A Better Way to Send Email

Managing a retailer’s complex email marketing strategy is hard—if you’re doing it manually. But most retailers have invested into automation tools to make email more effective and less time-consuming. A number of automation platforms offer the combined benefits of increased emailing, better personalization, and reduced time demands on marketing departments. Segmentation can take place on several levels, placing consumers into separate buckets that all receive a different approach to email strategy.

Consider a mother of young kids who regularly buys both adult science-fiction novels and children’s picture books. Shouldn’t this person be receiving emails related to both purchase areas? Shouldn’t these purchases inspire recommendations of books the mother or her children might enjoy? Automation tools can help accomplish this without anyone having to pore over the purchasing habits of each individual shopper.

Some automation platforms are more amenable to personalization than others, so retailers need to do their research. If you’re seeking a solution that offers contextualized emails, behavior-based profiling, and even real-time email interactions triggered by recent purchases or behaviors, there are a number of solutions that could serve these needs. Many of the leading email automation platforms also feature easy integration with a range of CRM tools, so you can seamlessly incorporate this new technology into your current workflow and content strategy.

If you’re serious about improving your personalization efforts through email, an automation tool is essentially a requirement. The good news is that the cost of automation software is easy to justify, since it can directly boost the ROI of one of digital marketing’s most lucrative channels. By using automation to realize a better approach to personalization, retail emails can forge deeper connections with customers while speaking directly to their desires and taking advantage of those impulsive shopping binges.

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Featured image attribution: Glenn Carstens-Peters

The post How to Use Email Marketing as the Centerpiece of Your Digital Retail Innovation appeared first on The Content Standard by Skyword.

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