Email Marketing Through an Economic Downturn
While many retailers have been forced to transition to e-commerce business models in recent months, brands still need to find effective ways to communicate with key stakeholders, specifically shoppers. The best way to accomplish this is via email marketing. Why?
Email is the most cost-effective way to promote, communicate and achieve business and marketing goals. For every $1 spent on email, businesses gain $42. And in the retail and e-commerce industry, it’s even higher — brands earn an average of $45 per dollar spent.
The return on investment of email is greater than other channels because, unlike other advertising strategies, customers have opted into emails. And through segmentation and personalization, email has the ability to reach its target at the perfect moment with marketing automation.
Email is a particularly reliable, strategic channel in uncertain economic conditions, as we’ve seen with COVID-19. That said, it’s important retailers align email messaging and turn to traditional best practices when the economic future is uncertain.
Pre-Send Testing and Message Optimization
Like any other channel, brands can overinundate emails with excessive messaging and design, causing them to not capitalize on the efficiency of the message.
In most industries, less is more, as businesses should rely on more text than imagery in emails. However, eye candy is critical in retail and e-commerce. As a result, testing graphics in emails and ensuring readability on every device and browser is paramount. What good is a touchpoint if it can’t be seen anyway?
Another way brands can insert creative content is via an embedded video. It not only doesn’t take away from the message, but can, in fact, enhance the call to action (CTA) and increase engagement and goal conversion rates.
A CTA gives brands the opportunity to lead shoppers to complete a specific action. Recipients are more likely to complete a CTA if they’re not overwhelmed with multiple to-do items. Therefore, it's important to keep it simple in your messaging.
Furthermore, while the pandemic continues, advertising redundant CTAs and secondary messages might come across as dated and spammy. The best thing email marketers and retailers can do right now is include a point of reference for more data or simply direct recipients to their website.
Convey Authenticity in Messaging
When the pandemic first started, it was essential for brands to reach out with empathy for what was going on in our world. Now, we’ve had to evolve as we move into different phases. Brands can’t hold out marketing to and targeting consumers forever, but it’s still important to engage with empathy for what’s happening in our world. The best thing to do is to create authentic and meaningful human-to-human connections. Customers still want brands to be themselves, but to do so with empathy as well as authenticity.
Therefore, the most important topic in retail and e-commerce email today is intelligent and responsible personalization. Worldwide digital ad spending is projected to surpass $375 billion by 2021, yet 76 percent of marketers don’t use behavioral data for digital targeting. Consumers are engaging with a lot of digital touchpoints right now, as internet usage is up by as much as 50 percent. Therefore, brands need to ensure they’re breaking through the clutter by providing personalized experiences. However, while we're still in our temporary situation, be aware of who you’re targeting as it’s still necessary to be considerate.
For instance, many retailers have been updating customers on store closings and re-openings. It’s best to separate by geolocation to ensure those influenced are the only ones obtaining the message. Also, all businesses should double-check their automated emails and examine how they would change and resonate with customers, in the moment. Take a step back and see if any messaging would be insensitive today.
Though we’re still amidst a pandemic, brands need to make sure they’re creating customized digital experiences for customers. Email allows retailers to quickly and efficiently share information during such an uncertain time. Brands can and need to be relying on and investing in email as an efficient marketing channel.
Melissa Sargeant is chief marketing officer of Litmus, a company that helps email marketers work more efficiently, catch costly errors and accelerate campaign performance.