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Email marketing: are you missing your targets?

22nd May 2017
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We’ve seen a number of stats that say retailers regularly miss their email marketing goals:


THAT’S SO 2006

You’ll have to forgive me, but I tend to think a little differently than most when it comes to these marketing basics. As I read the data in this article, I was a bit put off by the title. Retailers aren’t really missing goals with email; the truth is that you can’t look at email as a standalone option anymore.

Here’s the deal, and this might not be obvious to everyone: Consumers no longer shop in a single channel or in a linear fashion. Traditional email analytics don’t typically see a direct path from sent, to opened, to click-through, to purchase these days… that’s so 2006. So, if you are trying to measure email performance by looking directly within the email silo, you’re missing the point.


Email reminds the customer that you’re there. It demands that they shop. That being said, the subject line has become the most important aspect of an email campaign, hands down. Why? Well, email is primarily read on mobile devices now, floating in a sea of other emails. If the subject line doesn’t catch the eye of the viewer, your email will likely be deleted. Even more upsetting to many marketers is the harsh reality that it is often the only part of the email that is truly read and retained by the user.

The Business Insider article linked above goes on to pitch a full, gated report on mobile usage. It’s solid, and might well be worth the money for your organization to examine in full. Either way, here are my key takeaways:

Marketers can no longer look at channels separately. In fact, channels are now irrelevant to your strategy; they’re a mechanism to reach the consumer and only guide your content, not dictate it.

Content should now be guided by your ability to understand and utilize the latest state of the customer’s relationship across all channels at all times. In other words, focus on the right message instead of getting caught up considering channels.

That being said, you still need to use email and know how to do it well.

Ultimately, you need to understand the strengths of each channel and how they can affect your overall strategy during a customer interaction, including email. In terms of I see it this way:

Email marketing is primarily used to drive demand. Use it to start or keep a customer on a purchase path.

Mobile is a highly-personalized tool.

SMS is a customer service tool first. Use it sparingly for marketing.

Push notifications are a great marketing tool, especially when combined with geographic and demographic personalization.

Make sure that all email content is mobile-optimized!

Web is a demand-capture event. You need to provide a highly Adaptive Customer Experience™ here that is tied to both your email and mobile strategy.


In the end, it’s time for marketers to forget about the channel and focus on the customer. First, define the customer experience by starting out with an audience or persona and a business objective. Then—and only then—design the experience itself. This will connect you to your consumers more deeply than a channel-centric approach ever could.

Curious how to achieve this awesome marketing dexterity? Learn more about becoming an Adaptive Marketer™.


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