With the advent of mobile, email marketing has lost some of its luster. Let's look at how to refine an email marketing strategy to drive better results.
Email marketing serves one purpose: customer retention – essentially, existing customers subscribe to receive email updates and subsequently should visit more often. Prior to the mobile explosion, email served as a solid way to reach customers.
Now, with mobile overtaking email as customers' preferred method of digital contact, personalization, relevance, and timeliness have become mandatory tactics for effective communication. As a result, email marketing on its own cannot change customer behavior. Fortunately, by complementing email with other data sources, email marketing has the potential to be even more effective than it was before.
Why Email Marketing Needs To Evolve
Every single email marketer has the same three goals:
- Grow email list (i.e. more loyal customers)
- Improve email KPIs (i.e. better open/clickthrough/reply rates)
- Get results (i.e. more revenue)
These three tenets represent the fundamentals of retention marketing. No surprise there.
However, recently email has become a weakened communication channel, as consumers feel inundated with spam. According to Epsilon, overall email engagement rates dropped to 4% in 2014 (off 20% from a few years ago) while MailChimp shows opted-in email “click through rates” to be even lower – just 1.7% for restaurants and 2.9% for retail. Email marketing technology has matured – formerly advanced features such as subject line A/B testing are now “table stakes” for any email service provider. No wonder "people change email addresses every four months" and the average customer uses more than 3 email addresses (a 20% increase from the year before).
Clearly, to be effective, marketers need to make their content more relevant for customers. But how?
The Power of Integrating Loyalty and Email
According to Experian, emails targeted to loyalty program members have 40% higher open rates, 22% higher click rates, and transaction rates and revenue per email that are 29% and 11% higher, respectively. ExactTarget found that loyalty-powered emails generate up to 50% higher response rates versus regular promotional emails.
Whoa. That's a huge impact on achieving our three email marketing goals. But what does that mean, "targeted to loyalty program members" or "loyalty-powered emails"?
Glad we're here:
- Loyalty-powered emails give customers the ability to sign up for an email list in-store (in addition to online) = a bigger email list.
- Loyalty-powered emails use customer loyalty data to target messages to customers = improved email KPIs.
- Loyalty-powered emails allow brands to tie email campaigns to individual transactions = better results*.
*To be clear, no email service provider can capture transaction data without a third-party integration
Specific examples of loyalty-powered email campaigns include:
- Personalized rewards: send customers an email saying that they can get double progress toward their next reward on any purchase made in the next week.
- Targeted campaigns: during a typically slow month, send an email to loyal customers letting them know that if they come in 5 times during the next month, they'll get 50% off purchases in the following month.
- Winback emails: wait, you don't know about Winback?
Cool? Cool. Let's take a look at a case study that shows these principles in action.
Case Study: Get Better Email Marketing Results By Integrating Loyalty And Email
To see the power of a loyalty/email integration in action, click below to view the case study. As you read through, keep the following 4 principles in mind:
1) An "out-of-the-box" integration matters
Any service provider can tell you that integrating email and loyalty is a good idea. However, building an integration is much different than having one already in place. Seek out providers who can implement something right away (something that has a track record of driving results).
With that said, keep in mind that there are a billion email service providers out there. If a loyalty provider has successfully integrated with at least two email providers, you can be sure that the next integration will be just as effective. The first one is the toughest.
2) Use communication channels for what they're best suited
With email and loyalty integrated, brands run into trouble when they use the wrong channel for the right purpose. Though email works well for non-interruptive communication, there's no better "interrupter" than mobile. If customers have a reward that expires, don't send a mobile push notification at 5AM letting them know that it's available; use email. Along the same lines, don't send an email when a customer is within walking distance of a store; use mobile instead.
3) Remove all hassle
Want to track the success of an email marketing promotion (maybe a coupon)? Do NOT email customers a barcode that they can scan in store. Bringing a barcode in store is something only a minuscule amount of customers will ever do. Even if you did get massive usage, you'd still have employees struggling to scan hard-to-read codes and slowing down lines.
Instead, tie email address to customer transactions. That how you close the loop.
4) Test and Iterate
Remember, in today's new age, nobody wins email marketing right out of the gate. Set up the proper tracking channels to capture every success and failure, iterate based on that information, and continue creating incremental success.