- Email marketing was one of the success stories of the pandemic as open rates and engagement saw an uptick these past few years.
- As of 2021, 80.0% of the US population uses email.
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Gone are the days when all marketers used email in the same way. In today’s economy, marketers are using email to create deeper connections with customers, increase ecommerce sales, push consumers to new calls to action such as click and collect (buying an item online to pick up in-store), onboard new customers, and reactivate lapsed ones.
Consumers want personalized email promotions
Organizations are increasingly using customer data to create more relevant and personalized email marketing promotions for their customers. Targeted promotions aren’t new per se, but what is new is mainstream’s growing adoption of and demand for them.
Why do personalized promotions matter? For starters, 47% of US consumers prefer emails with deals and promotions from brands, according to September 2020 data from Fluent. And increasingly, brands are discovering that, when they don’t personalize offers, they may be eroding brand trust while wasting promotional dollars.
Without the proper cadence in mind when sending out email promotions, companies can create a negative CX. Accordingly, brands are getting more sophisticated about when they reach out to a customer with a promotion.
“If someone’s going to buy, don’t stand in their way of buying,” said Jason Grunberg, CMO at Sailthru, “[but] if they’re not predicted to buy, give them the right type of content that they’ll consume so that they can learn more and get back on that journey and then fall into that segment of customers predicted to purchase.”
There is a clear movement toward personalized promotions as opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach. Given how crowded consumers’ inboxes are, the best way to ensure customers pay attention to your messages is relevancy. If you can get 80% of a promotion’s sales by communicating it to the 20% of your audience who will find it most relevant, go for it.
While some talk about the death of brick-and-mortar retail, there’s more to it: We’re witnessing the death of non-data-driven commerce. And those online and offline commerce models embracing data-driven commerce and relevancy through personalized promotions are thriving.
Using data to unlock email marketing personalization and segmentation
One of the areas of greatest opportunity for marketers is personalization. That’s because despite most brands having reams of customer data, they are not actively doing much with it. Many email marketers agree that their personalization capabilities are still not yet where they could be: 60% of marketers surveyed by Litmus indicated that one of their priorities was increasing email personalization. According to the Ascend2 survey, 65% of US marketing professionals reported that more personalization was the best approach for improving the effectiveness of email programs.
Some industries, such as retail and consumer packaged goods, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) ecommerce businesses have placed a greater focus on personalization. It’s been viewed as less important for nonprofits, government agencies, and small businesses, though that may not stay true forever and personalization could give these entities a competitive advantage.
Over the next few years, “true” personalization within email marketing will go from advantageous to mandatory. In order to make this happen, brands will need to get more sophisticated at data collection, not to mention adopt more agile processes and automation to get emails out faster. Greater efficiencies on the whole will allow the typical email marketer to invest that saved time into a bigger emphasis on personalization.
Keep your emails customer-focused
All too often, brands think about their desire to send out an email before they consider the recipient’s desire to receive the message. Customer-centric emails often perform the best; for marketers to win, they must align their email organizations with that manner of thinking.
An August 2020 study from email production platform Dyspatch and SurveyMonkey found that relevancy trumps newness when persuading US consumers to purchase something from a marketing email. In fact, when asked what type of product recommendation in an email they would most likely act on, 59.4% of US adults cited product suggestions based on their purchase history, compared with just 22.7% who said they’d be most likely to purchase when presented with an email devoted to a newly launched product.
Brands must be judicious about what they communicate over email: What a brand considers to be essential information may not meet that bar for the recipient and may only present that recipient with an opportunity to unsubscribe. Only 19% of US consumers reported using welcome emails to learn about a new product, compared with the 60% who said they turned to Google for such information, per the SparkPost and SurveyMonkey research. Consumers do expect brands to keep them abreast of major product changes, with 36% of respondents saying email was their primary way of learning about such changes. Ultimately, half of respondents said they unsubscribed from email lists because the emails didn’t contain useful or interesting content.
Brands must be mindful of their content—but mindful doesn’t necessarily mean overly cautious. In fact, consumers increasingly expect email marketing to take the lead on communicating brands’ stances on important issues. A strong email marketing program conveys what a brand is and isn’t, as opposed to being just a vehicle for offering deals and discounts.