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Why email is still essential

6th Dec 2016
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Why email is still an essential part of effective cross-channel digital marketing by Kym Reynolds, Senior Marketing Expert at SmartFocus

Since the first commercial email was sent out in the late 1970s with great success, email has been slipping down the cool chart over the decades and is now seen more like the ugly stepsister of digital marketing. But however much mud is flung at it, email is still the bedrock of marketing – it remains the most prevalent and dominant form of digital marketing, providing incredible return on investment.

Worldwide, over 200 billion emails are sent and received every day. This figure is due to rise by 5% each year, reaching almost 250 billion emails by the end of 2019. This could even be an underestimate. Email user numbers also continue to grow. Currently standing at 2.6 billion, by 2019 there will be almost 3 billion email users worldwide.

By the end of that year, one-third of the world’s population will be using email. Success via the inbox is hard enough now, imagine what it will be like then. Email however will continue to be a reliable channel to deliver ROI. But its success will rely on whether brands use email in its most traditional form, or will embrace the vision of email as a conduit to deliver targeted, real-time, personalized content to consumers who they know are at that precise moment in time showing a high propensity to purchase.

Common issues around email marketing:

  • Struggling to keep momentum with email campaigns
  • Difficulty standing out in the inbox
  • High frequency send – sending high levels of emails to try and maintain revenue levels, which can cause negative effects for a brand
  • Competing for consumer attention and share of their pocket

Email is the fundamental basis for effective cross-channel management – it gives proven results and is a robust form of marketing communication, but its power also lies in effectively enabling customer retention AND acquisition through enriched personal data. Cross-channel synchronization is not easy, but using a marketing platform that is built around a real-time decision engine (RTD) utilising both real-time and non-real-time inputs to drive next best interactions across all channels will make this work in perfect harmony.

Marketers can interact with a RTD through various interfaces; commonly the journey planner and the personalization UX. This is by either designing a channel agnostic campaign focused on a customer persona and next desired action, or to drive a response in a specific channel.

For example, the UK’s largest high street toy retailer The Entertainer target their lapsing purchasers with a promotional campaign displayed in email or web. This depends on where the engagement occurs when the customer qualifies. They also send a multi-stage email sign up welcome program to new customers/email sign-ups.

Using a Big Data structure truly changes the benchmarks for email marketing – meaning marketers need just one platform delivering real-time email that changes content on every open. This makes the complex simple so a marketer only needs to touch a single button and live recommendations – wholly based on customer persona – are rendered thanks to decisioning that has happened in real-time in seconds.

Email success in action

With over 120 stores and thetoyshop.com ecommerce site, The Entertainer required a world-class digital marketing platform that could let them personalize, segment and achieve a single view of their customers.

Rob Wood, Head of Online, The Entertainer explains: “Maximizing your customers’ lifetime value and capitalizing on your inventory to give you the best marketing revenue possible is a simple task when you have the right innovative and intuitive digital tools available.

“Luckily that is what The Message Cloud has given us; alongside the power to send unique and personalized messages, triggered by the customer and powered by split-second live data. We have now been able to make our marketing campaigns work harder and smarter.

“We tripled our email revenue last year compared to the year before, which is a brilliant result for us and something we are really happy with. We’ve used the same database – it’s not like we have massively grown it. All we have done is send better messages to the same people and got a better result from that.”

Within 18 months The Entertainer has:

  • Tripled email revenue, and had 97% YOY increase so far in 2016
  • 36% boost in new sales
  • 61% increase in conversion rates
  • 80% increase in CTR from behavioral segments using personalized email
  • 2x email open rates
  • 90% of marketing emails are now segmented and personalized
  • 120% increase in mobile sales
  • 64% CTR increase using recommendations in transactional emails
  • 48% YOY increase in transactional email revenue60% increase in returning shoppers
  • 29% increase in sales from website product recommendations
  • 25% increase in conversions from abandoned cart emails
  • Significantly increased average value orders (AOV)

Kym Reynolds is a senior marketing expert for SmartFocus. SmartFocus is an innovator in messaging and communications, enabling the world’s largest brands – including Nestlé, Mercedes-Benz and House of Fraser – to understand and connect more closely with today’s connected consumers; whether that be via web, mobile, email or social channels. Through The Message Cloud solution, SmartFocus genuinely listens to and learns from customers using patented algorithms and unique location-based marketing tools. Using The Message Cloud, SmartFocus customers have the rich data, intelligence and the tools for contextually unique engagements, through any digital channel. www.smartfocus.com

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