3 Steps to Stop Using Email Like a Billboard
As any accident lawyer or dubious plastic surgeon would tell you, the success of billboard marketing is an exercise in volume. Masses of road-trippers and rush-hour drivers glancing at your ad will see the same message. While only a fraction will feel compelled to act on it, that fraction represents a little of enough for the numbers to work.
For most retailers, this is the state of their email program. But should it be?
Email is one of the few one-to-one channels marketers wholly own. They have unbridled access to their list and the data they need to drive the program. Email offers them the opportunity to tell a tailored brand story, convert prospects and increase customer lifetime value (LTV).
In short, email lets you target down to the individual at a nominal cost. So why is it still a volume play for many?
The impact of email on the digital top line is no secret to B-to-C marketers. Most of this performance is attributed to daily marketing emails being sent to vast databases, regularly containing new product arrivals, clearance products or sales.
In a recent analysis performed by BounceX, however, the data showed that these batch-and-blast emails generate only about $0.04 in revenue per send for the average e-commerce retailer. Think about what that means in relation to your business. How many emails are you sending to hit your numbers, and how many of those actually result in customers taking action?
Behaviorally triggered emails, on the other hand, generate $0.95 in revenue per send while also posting a 4.1x higher conversion rate, a direct result of improved relevance.
So, how can retailers transition from a batch-and-blast email program to an individualized one? Consider taking the following three steps:
1. Understand who is on your site.
While triggered emails clearly outperform generic batch-and-blast, most retailers’ programs remain dominated by the latter. What’s preventing them from sending more of the former?
You can’t email a visitor if they haven’t given you permission, and you can’t know if you have permission if you can’t connect a visitor to their email address. Most online retailers can only do this for about 5 percent of their traffic. Much of the remaining 95 percent is opted in, just anonymous in that visit. Retailers need to find ways to better recognize their visitors, even as cookies expire or shoppers move between devices.
2. Use data to personalize the buyer journey.
The more accurately you segment your customers, the more personal your communication can get. Anonymous traffic has prevented brands from enriching known contacts with behavioral data from their site visits.
Once you’ve gotten better at recognizing more customers, you can collect more first-party data, allowing you to build deeper customer understanding. Then, you can build an advanced email program by diversifying your automated emails beyond basic abandonment triggers, segmenting your marketing emails using predictive cohorts and expanding to supporting channels like web push and SMS.
3. Ditch reliance on transactional emails.
The pressure to hit revenue targets has resulted in most brand emails being transactional in nature. However, consumers want brands with a mission. Retailers can use email to tell its brand story and build relationships.
A welcome series is a great way to familiarize customers with your brand's story, history and purpose. But today, welcome emails are often being used to simply pass along a first-purchase discount. Follow-up emails in the series can familiarize customers with your mission or provide a personal letter from an executive.
Beyond that, use improved customer data to start inviting the right customers to local events, introducing your best customers to account reps or reactivating lapsed customers with major announcements.
As a rule, retailers need to move away from batch-and-blast, billboard-like emails if they want to build real relationships with consumers. This process starts with identification, scales with a blend of consumer data, and ends with a renewed focus on brand story.
Ryan Urban is the co-founder and CEO of BounceX, a global marketing technology company.
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Ryan Urban is the Co-Founder and CEO at BounceX, a global marketing technology company. Under his leadership, BounceX has been ranked number one overall for both employee retention and career development by ComputerWorld, named one of the best places to work in NYC by Crain’s New York, and honored as one of Fortune’s best places to work. A veteran of the e-commerce space, Ryan was formerly Director of Acquisition at Bonobos and prior to that, Head of Ecommerce at Brickhouse Security. He has served on the advisory boards of both BabyAge.com and Bonobos.