Email Acquisition is the New Directive in the Post-Cookie Era
For brands and retailers, email has always been important. Since the inception of e-commerce, email has remained the No. 1 conduit for one-to-one communication between companies and their customers. Over time, however, it has become easy for brands and retailers to take this communication channel for granted — but the days of resting on laurels with respect to email are over.
As governmental regulation and industry mandates have pushed the envelope towards the phaseout of third-party cookies as identifiers for unknown audiences across the internet, email addresses are becoming more important than ever, taking up the mantle as the currency of the entire online advertising ecosystem.
There has been a push to get more relevant, actionable first-party data for years, as the reliance on third-party cookies has proven itself unreliable to aid in the personalization efforts needed to drive conversions and more focused targeting and promotions. Third-party cookies often rely on outdated demographic information, and while they’re cheap to implement on a massive scale, they’re often low percentage to aid in these crucial personalization efforts, which can impact customer loyalty and retention over time.
The new imperative for brands and retailers needs to be on consumer email acquisition. As email continues to move beyond the inbox, these important identifiers can be the key to building better, more personalized outreach efforts that not only reinforce customer loyalty and retention efforts, but preserve margins as well.
Focusing on Email Acquisition in the Context of a Value Exchange
Of course, if getting new customer emails was as easy as flipping a switch, everyone would do it. Brands and retailers go to great lengths to build their email subscriber lists, if for no other reason to simply fight attrition. It’s estimated that 25 percent of email lists can be lost every year (i.e., churn) through customers changing jobs, changing their address, or simply unsubscribing.
For how essential list growth is, there has been very little innovation in the field of email acquisition, especially with respect to first-party, on-site email capture. The closest the industry has come to innovation has been pop-up lightboxes that prevent a customer from “bouncing.” In the place of this innovation has been a laborious, manual testing process and hoping and praying that customers will sign up.
In order for brands and retailers to truly incentivize email capture, they need to structure their efforts around a value exchange, meaning consumers need to feel like they’re getting something of value in exchange for offering their information. This value exchange can be everything from access to exclusive content or early access to product lines, the promise of a more traditional rewards program or, more commonly, a discount incentive.
While discounts are an increasingly important facet of email acquisition efforts, they need to be applied carefully. By incentivizing email signups with a 50 percent discount, for example, consumers will be conditioned to expect that level of deep discount in the future. And, if a brand fails to deliver on that level of offer, it can harm loyalty and retention. Furthermore, if a 50 percent blanket discount is given to a consumer who may be motivated to sign up with a 10 percent offer, the brand is needlessly impacting their margins for minimal gain.
For more progressive marketers, emerging tools in artificial intelligence are being deployed to help in hyperpersonalization efforts — even for unknown audiences — to provide individualized discounts that not only incentivize email acquisition, but additionally preserve margins and combat discount dependency.
By leveraging these progressive marketing tools, brands and retailers can have their cake and eat it too, building out email lists that will serve as the foundation for future marketing efforts, all while giving customers the value add to motivate their participation — and without damaging long-term retention efforts.
Jonathan Treiber is co-founder and CEO of RevTrax, a promotions marketing platform.
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Jonathan Treiber is CEO of Revtrax, an offer management platform who works with clients such as Express and Men’s Wearhouse.