Email marketing is as old as email itself, and as a great tool for personalised campaigns and maintaining customer loyalty, it remains a valuable element of strategy for many brands. Yet although it is easy to think that email marketing is straightforward, there are a number of mistakes frequently made that could be affecting your efficiency, ROI and engagement. Ironing out these difficulties and improving your email marketing strategy is therefore a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.
While it may sound like the simplest rule when discussing email marketing, many brands still fall in to the trap of not personalising emails, or rather not providing the right kind of personalisation. While once upon a time an automated “Hi Mr/Mrs. X” might have sufficed to give the impression of personalisation, customers are now far too marketing savvy to be convinced by such transparent attempts at personalisation.
According to an article for The Drum by CRM consultant Russ Groombridge, ‘consumer perception of email is really poor.’ He points to data which shows that ‘60% don’t think any brands do email well [and] 59% agree that most emails are irrelevant.’ Yet at the same time, insight data also shows that ‘75% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from retailers that personalise.’ What this shows is that, if done right, customers are still open to receiving offers, information and announcements that they deem relevant for them and this will have a direct impact on their purchasing decisions.
Getting the level of personalisation right can be tricky, and will vary from brand to brand and customer to customer, but there are steps you can take. Groombridge suggests that ‘product recommendations, live updates, notification buttons etc. should become the norm not the vision,’ when it comes to personalising email marketing. He also points out that in the wake of GDPR, brands will have had to get their data in order to meet compliance standards, which could in turn become a useful tool for better personalisation.
In the same way that you trial and test other aspects of a marketing campaign, email testing should be seen as an important way of improving your email strategy. Without testing which emails do and do not work for your brand, valuable effort and money is simply being ploughed in to a method without guaranteeing results. According to an article by Marketing Week, Direct Marketing Association (DMA) figures show that ‘47% of organisations test under a quarter of their emails,’ while ‘19% rate their organisation as having no competence with regard to testing and a further 15% say they do no testing.’
There are a number of ways you can test emails, but as Sarah Pickersgill from Cancer Research UK told Marketing Week, ‘it’s important to be clear what [your organisation] wants to learn from testing and how it will add to the [customer’s] experience.’ By having clear goals regarding you want to learn, it is easier to choose which tests will work for your organisation. These can include A/B split testing, heat maps or subject line variation to isolate individual aspects of each email in order to see which options and combinations drive the best results. By ensuring that your email strategy is then based on the insights gained from this testing, you can increase the efficiency and ROI of your campaigns.
Timing is everything when it comes to email marketing, whether this means how often you email, the time of day you email or, crucially, when you email in relation to the customer’s stage in their purchasing journey. All these factors must be considered if you are going to ensure your emails reach the right customer, at the right time.
According to an article by MarTech Advisor, ‘the best email marketing […] is when a marketer sends timely and relevant emails as per the actual stage of the buyer’s journey.’ It explains that ‘a thorough understanding of the customer lifecycle, understanding of where they are in their buying journey and what can best be done to tempt them to convert or buy more, as the case (or stage) may be based on their usage or browsing data, and predictive analytics,’ is crucial for ensuring good timing of your email.
Again, testing a variety of options could be one solution to determine what frequency and time of day works best to email, but when it comes to tying your email to the wider customer journey, data and careful mapping are a must. This level of integration will not happen overnight, but it is worthwhile investing the time and effort needed to increase the sophistication of your email campaigns in order to improve your strategy going forwards.
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