Email marketing in the age of the customer
Whether you’re a retailer or a manufacturer, e-marketing has become a mission-critical business tool. Find out which tactics have helped British companies rank among the top e-marketers
There can be no doubt that we are in the age of the customer. The digital world we live in means it is no longer the company that decides when, where, or how its customers connect, but the customers themselves. Businesses are in a race to adapt, tailoring themselves to the needs of the customer.
Today, the priority is placed on connectivity – with businesses pushing themselves to be present and responsive for customers, no matter what platform the customers choose. This multichannel, always-connected world is forcing brands to adopt and master emerging technologies. From the simplest marketing practices to the latest, most sophisticated techniques, customer expectations of a digital-first approach have forever changed the way businesses communicate with their user base.
A mainstay of the customer engagement mix, email marketing is also continuing to evolve. Specifically, the democratisation of software in today’s marketplace – helped enormously by the sudden ubiquity of cloud services – means a company’s success is no longer hampered by its technology; it is predominantly shaped by the team behind the tactics.
ASOS, Asda, easyJet, and John Lewis set the benchmark
Email is a marketing channel that can deliver returns of more than £30 for every £1 spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association Email Tracker Report. Yet it is equally clear that a substantial proportion of brands are leaving money on the table. Dotmailer’s new report, Hitting the Mark, has unearthed some worrying trends. Many brands are failing to migrate beyond basic email marketing methods and move towards tactics that are proven to increase customer satisfaction as well as return on investment.
The research shows that easy opportunities are being missed by companies of all sizes in all sectors, across multiple geographies.
It is not all bad news, however. British businesses take up six spots in the top ten best brands for email marketing and customer experience, as ranked by the report. ASOS, Asda, easyJet, and John Lewis set the benchmark by nailing the basics and performing comprehensive and innovative engagement strategies.
Building better practices
While some organisations excel at basic automation, the report also found that many businesses are struggling to implement more advanced tactics. Too often, customer data is not being properly used, with many retailers resorting to untargeted email blasts rather than analysis to share personalised and relevant offers.
Even worse, nearly a sixth of businesses were missing out on tactics as simple as automated welcome emails, failing to acknowledge customers that have created an account or registered online.
A considerable proportion of retailers (40 per cent) undermine their marketing effectiveness by foregoing abandoned online shopping cart programmes, leaving revenue on the table. With global cart abandonment rates now estimated at over 69 per cent, this could well prove a costly mistake.
Similarly, retailers are frequently faltering during the after-sales experience, with 46 per cent of organisations admitting they do not send feedback requests following purchases – losing out on a possible opportunity to foster stronger relationships with their customer base and the valuable social proof that helps convert new customers.
Walking before we run
This is not to say that there are no bright spots. Email segmentation techniques are being adopted across the board. We should remember however, that segmentation is not a new email marketing tactic and is one of the easiest to implement. Delve beyond this and you realise that there is a huge disparity between what the 10 top-scoring companies are doing to drive relevancy versus the remaining 90 brands.
Catching customers at the right moment with compelling messaging is crucial in what a typical subscriber would deem as relevant. A considerable number of brands appear to be failing in this area and, subsequently, are at risk of alienating their customers and damaging the reputation of email as a marketing channel.
Right now, there is a flurry of excitement around the potential of artificial intelligence – but it is clear that companies need to avoid becoming “magpie marketers” and focus on mastering the fundamentals. When it comes to planning for email marketing, think big, start small and scale quickly.
Many businesses – regardless of size and sector – are falling behind their counterparts when it comes to taking the next step to applying more advanced strategies. The value of email marketing is clear and, when done well, it can fundamentally change the way businesses communicate and engage with their customers.
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