Marketers are now being more creative with their campaigns in an attempt to adapt to the introduction of new technology. It’s now expected that campaigns are working intrinsically cross-channel to deliver integrated messages. If this is to be effective, they must connect all touchpoints and gain an understanding of their customers’ behaviour and response. From a business perspective, this requires a break down in silos across departments, to ensure that consistent messages are being delivered across all email, advertising and social campaigns.
Yet, communicating through digital channels has challenges marketers must overcome. We’ve seen recently the growth of ad-blocking across digital, meaning that marketers are again having to adapt to obstacles as they attempt to become more progressive. As a new strategy is developed that attempts to overcome this, marketers must ensure that they don’t forget about the most important thing; making sure your message delivers! Email should not be forgotten in an attempt to become more sophisticated, and it certainly shouldn’t be considered outdated or a secondary part of the plan. A recent Econsultancy report found that less than half of marketers (42%) agree that email plays a ‘central role’ in customer retention, yet this ought to be much higher, reflecting its role as the primary personal communication tool of the digital age. Email should sit at the heart of a brand’s communications ecosystem, and if used properly, it can inform far more effective approaches across the business.
Gone are the days where email communications are informed simply by preference choices; there’s now a wealth of data available for marketers that can provide much richer insights. Installing a system that can connect these touchpoints is a key starting point, as data can then be analysed in real-time. Email is a tried-and-tested medium that has effective results, and is therefore cost-efficient for marketing departments looking to deliver value and enhance revenue.
Retail is one sector that can reap the rewards if their systems are developed to make the most of available data. As customers increasingly favour online shopping, it’s vital that retailers are equipped with the insight to deliver effective campaigns that can enhance online sales. In fact, a recent report by retail analysts Verdict forecasts that by 2020, online retail expenditure will rise by 44.9% to reach £62.7 billion. Retailers therefore need to future-proof for further online developments and work cross-channel to ensure they are reaching the right audiences and encouraging them to spend online.
It’s clear that email can deliver huge value within this sector – delivering targeted offers, raising awareness of new collections and suggesting relevant items to buy are all examples of how retailers can add value to the lives of their customer. Without having the data that can feed into this, retailers will only be able to send generic emails that have minimal impact. Research into the top 50 online retailers we conducted this year revealed that retailers are recognising that they need more than basic data collected through preference centres, as the amount of retailers using one has fallen from 64% to 36% between 2014 and 2015. This suggests that there’s a shift towards finding those individualised insights that develop loyalty and are optimised to all devices. Currently, however, only 26% of the top 50 online retailers are currently sending insight-driven communications, highlighting a gap that needs to be bridged by retailers looking to ensure they’re making the most of customer communications. For sectors that are constantly evolving and adapting to integrate online purchasing channels, it’s important that marketing teams are able to communicate on a personal level with their customers if they wish to positively impact revenue. Email can successfully deliver this individualised feel.
Cloggs is an example of a company in the retail space that has realised the wealth of value email has to offer. By installing technology that enabled them to leverage advanced segmentations based on rich insights (such as product information, average pound spent and frequency of purchase), they successfully engaged their existing customer base. By using cross-channel optimisation and analysing individual customer interactions and behaviours, they saw a 105% increase in revenue within a year, all because their communications put the customer first. They were able to understand exactly who their customers are, what they want, and add value for their customers by allowing them to communicate through whatever medium they chose. All of this was initiated through email.
Email is the central hub of all outgoing communications, as it helps connect channels and touchpoints together. It should no longer be seen as a ‘back-to-basics’ approach – it’s in fine health and can drive innovative and creative campaigns, as well as push customers further down the path of purchase if the right insights are utilised. In an environment where ad-blocking is increasingly problematic and Google have started segmenting inboxes, brands should ensure that email remains a top priority and does not become a forgotten mode of communication.