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Whilst identifying the “Cost per Influence” of your email marketing campaign is crucial to evaluating its success, you won’t be able to achieve that success if your campaign is not based on customer insight and responsive to behavioural change.

Part of this is identifying the role of your email newsletter and what you want it to achieve. Are you trying to drive people to your retail store? Are you trying to incentivise them to buy a new product? Do you want to just send out information about your latest offers? Or do you want to increase the level of engagement you have with your customers? Whatever your objectives are, they need to compliment the customer journey and purchase lifecycle.

Our recent study into the email campaigns of the top 50 retailers in the UK – which revealed that 77 per cent are failing to deliver tailored marketing collateral to their customers – proves that to some extent, many businesses are yet to recognise the power and impact their digital output can have on the bottom line. Relevance and timeliness has never been so important. Rich, personalised, targeted email content is increasingly becoming a vital tool in influencing consumer behaviour. If businesses want to remain at the forefront of their customers minds, they need to earn it, empower their customers and make them feel valued and listened too.

So what can marketers do to make sure they are equipped to deliver it and capitalise on changing consumer behaviours in real-time?

The answer is a fully rounded preference centre. Adopting a preference centre provides brands with a vast amount of personal data, which if used effectively, can help them target customers with content that is relevant to them. But, it’s important to note that the preference centre is not only a great tool for capturing valuable customer data to use across the entire CRM strategy. It can also provide you with an invaluable opportunity to enhance the customer experience further with personalisation – emails addressed to the recipient and targeted content. Some provide customers with the ability to subscribe to multiple newsletters based on their gender or whether or not they are a member of their loyalty card scheme. Whereas others include a double-opt in process, which allows recipients to customise the emails they receive, so they are highly personal and relevant to specific key interests or products. That might be anything from men’s health or allergy advice to women’s fashion or holidays to the Caribbean. But make sure you listen, if they’ve told you that they are a male interested in male fashions, don’t send details about your upcoming sale on women’s summer dresses. The data you collect in your preference centre should clearly match the content your customers have asked to receive from you.

The fact that our study highlighted a disparity between those with a preference centre and the level of personalisation retailers are delivering, clearly demonstrates that whilst some brands have got it spot on, a large majority are not taking full advantage of the data they are collecting. Despite providing a wealth of benefits only 38 per cent of the retail brands in our study had a preference centre attached to their newsletter campaign.

So what’s the secret to creating the perfect preference centre?

Whatever you do, it’s important to recognise that this shouldn’t be a static process. A preference centre should be an on-going experience and evolve. Especially if it is to be truly relevant and deliver the kind of “cost per influence” that is going to put a smile on the faces of the sales and finance directors within your business. Take Thomson for example, one of the travel champions from our top 50 study. In every email sent, they include a link to the preference centre providing recipients with the ability to update or amend their details as and when they choose.  If you want to add an extra touch to this process, why not show users an example of their desired email too, before you start mailing them. If your driving aim is to cement a stronger relationship with your customers you need to look at working with them collaboratively to make sure you both get equal value out of the experience and the data exchange process.

Try to avoid boring questions too. Focus on dynamic questioning instead. Think about asking lifestyle questions like; How many times a year do you buy technology? How much do you spend on your annual summer holiday? Do you enjoy going to the cinema regularly? These will provide you with highly personalised answers which will equip you with the knowledge you need to segment your customers into specific data sets, identify specific needs and provide you with the ability to pinpoint specific opportunities to target them with in real-time.

Ultimately, you need to empower your users to take control of the communications they want to receive from you.

Brands have to be smart and act smarter. Think about what you’re sending, to whom and when. Smart brands will be those that target the thirtysomething male, who is married with kids, just before their wife’s birthday with suggested gift ideas. Or those who send details of the latest gadget offers at 8am so they can read it on their tablet on the train into work. Retailers who go one stage further and track their customers’ online activity will be able to capitalise on the key moments of truth that drive the purchase lifecycle. So if you notice that your customers are researching bikes in your online store for instance, make sure you send them an email straight away with information to help make their purchase decision much simpler.

However, don’t just focus on content, design is also a vital part of the customer experience. Make sure you allow your users to create their own bespoke newsletter using the AJAX drag and drop module selection, this can make your email send far more appealing. Plus if the customer has essentially designed it to their preferences, the chances of them engaging with the content are infinitely higher.

Ultimately, you need to empower your users to take control of the communications they want to receive from you. You want the experience to be personal and fun at the same time as being rewarding and fulfilling. If you provide a tailored experience using soft GUI buttons as control mechanisms or a control patrol within the email to show how users are in control of every element, you can really help bring this alive in the eyes of the recipient. However, whilst creating a process which is dynamic and interchangeable is imperative to the whole experience, the nature of your questioning is perhaps the most important aspect to get right. Remember personalisation and relevancy are key to ensuring higher open and click-through rates.

Mark Ash

Mark Ash


Mark Ash is Managing Director Teradata Interactive International.