5 Email Marketing Myths Debunked
There are misconceptions about every industry, and within retail, there are plenty about email marketing. But if we're going to make any kind of progression in the industry, it's important to debunk these mistaken beliefs. Below are my deconstructions of the five most common myths surrounding email marketing today:
Myth No. 1: Segmentation is easier than one-to-one marketing. Most retailers think their segmentation strategy must come first and take a "walk before run" approach to their email program. This is based on the myth that segmentation is easier than a one-to-one approach. It just feels intuitively right that it's easier to manage five versions of a message than a million. In reality, it's wrong.
The reason is that five versions tend to be executed manually, while 1 million is so clearly impossible to manage manually that it must be automated — and being automated is a lot less work than manual! The technology to automate at this scale is now available, both from email service providers that can take in dynamic content, as well as from analytics systems that can determine the best message at the individual level.
Myth No. 2: I need more data. Retail marketers tend to think they need more information about customers before they can do anything — demographic info, Facebook profiles, preference center profiles, etc. This is false. Retailers already have a wealth of data on their customers if they just look at the digital "breadcrumbs" they leave behind. Those breadcrumbs (not to be confused with cookies) may include recent transactions (online and offline), email logs and other online interactions that help decipher a shopper's individual behaviors, style and price points. Sure, more data is better, but there's already huge untapped potential from the data you already have. You don't need to wait to get started.
Myth No. 3: Shoppers think personalization is creepy. The privacy horse has already left the barn. Shoppers know they're being tracked; that isn't their problem. As Mark Zuckerberg said, "the default is social." Rather, the problem is they're being tracked yet still spammed with irrelevant messages. Shoppers expect that their favorite retailers understand them and know their preferences, tastes and interests. Yet 41 percent of consumers say that most emails they receive from brands don't contain anything that interests them. This is a huge problem. Not only does it diminish the effectiveness of a retailer's email marketing efforts, but it can actually damage the brand. The CMO Council reported that 54 percent of consumers would consider ending their relationship with a retailer if they're not given tailor-made, relevant content and offers.
Myth No. 4: Mobile means email doesn't matter. Mobile is making email more relevant than ever. In fact, commercial emails opened on mobile devices are on pace to surpass PC opens by the end of the year, with retail and consumer services seeing the highest mobile engagement. And the expectation is the same — shoppers want personalized communications from retailers, regardless of the channel used.
Myth No. 5: Email marketing is an art, not a science. There's a common misperception that email marketing falls in one of two buckets: it's either an art or a science. In reality, it's a combination of both. The "science" can take care of all the data-driven elements (e.g., exact products to show, specific deals to offer, etc.), which is extremely important, but the art is still essential to differentiate yourself from your competition. Why buy from you? What does your brand stand for? Why should a consumer have you in their consideration set? These have always been the essential questions for marketing, and this is truer now that technology can take care of highlighting the rights products or offer.
Graeme Grant is the president and COO of CQuotient, a provider of hyperpersonalized email marketing technology.