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Email marketing leads customer engagement efforts

29th Jun 2009
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MyCustomer.com

What role is there for customer engagement within the current economic climate? The latest Online Customer Engagement Report provides insights into how firms are targeting and segmenting customers, and working to learn how they are changing in the new environment.

In the economic downturn, customer engagement is set to become even more important, but too many firms are behaving like ostriches and burying their corporate heads in the sand in denial at the seriousness of the recession.

According to the third annual Online Customer Engagement Report from digital agency cScape, half of organisations reckon they are now placing more emphasis on customer engagement, but an alarming 49% said this was not the case.

"Organisations able to grasp the changes in customers' behaviour and psychology, while placing an emphasis on delivering increased value, will be able to reap the rewards of customer engagement."

Richard Sedley, custumer engagement director, cScape

The report is based on a survey of 1,300 respondents and looks at how companies plan to adopt customer engagement campaigns during these tough economic times. Lack of budget and time is being cited as the biggest barrier to starting a customer engagement campaign. Sensitivity to price is the type of customer behaviour which responding organisations feel that they will most likely need to address over the next 12 months. Nearly half of companies surveyed (48%) said that this would be a behavioural trait which was significant for them next year.

But the research did find that companies believe email marketing to be the tactic that has helped them engage most with customers, with 59% intending to increase spending in this area. That's more than the third of respondents who say they are planning to invest significant amounts in blogging and social networks.

While 37% of respondents plan to invest in blogging, user-generated content and social networks, it’s email newsletters that will receive the greatest investment. This is attributed to the fact that metrics for email marketing have been long established, enabling marketers to understand the impact of their efforts to the bottom line.

Email marketing

"Organisations able to grasp the changes in customers' behaviour and psychology, while placing an emphasis on delivering increased value, will be able to reap the rewards of customer engagement," says Richard Sedley, customer engagement director at cScape. “A year ago we might all have accurately predicted that email newsletters would remain a staple technique for improving online customer engagement, but far fewer might have predicted that 13% of companies would be looking to invest in micro-blogging utilities like Twitter.

"In a troubled economy the emphasis on engagement is one of the few activities that can deliver value to both customer and business alike, over both the short- and long-term.."

Richard Sedley, custumer engagement director, cScape

“There have been a number of constants across the years that the survey has been running but this report is published into a very different world than the previous ones. The shadow of a credit crunch in 2007/2008 has already turned into full-blown recession in some countries and the impact of international economic woes are predicted to reach well into the next decade. The instability that the market economy creates for all organisations means that it is increasingly difficult to think beyond the short-term and even the best laid business plans can be unhinged at a moment's notice.”

So what role is there for customer engagement within this climate? “To effectively engage we must endeavour to understand and provide relevance, and this year's report provides insights into how we are targeting and segmenting our customers, as well as what methods we are using to learn how our customers are changing in this new world,” suggested Sedley.

“Indeed, in a troubled economy the emphasis on engagement is one of the few activities that can deliver value to both customer and business alike, over both the short- and long-term. Those organisations able to grasp the changes in our customers behaviour and psychology, while placing an emphasis on delivering increased value, will be able to reap the rewards of customer engagement and will be best placed to emerge winners from the current economic situation. Those that can't have a lot to lose.”

Certainly email marketing is still seeing significant peaks. For example, the US retail sector saw a 14% surge in activity in the week ending November 28 – the period covering the so-called Black Friday for the US economy. 


The Retail Email Index rose to a new high for the year to date, reaching a score of 311, a 32% month-on-month increase.
On average, each of the top 100 internet retailers sent more than 3.1 email marketing messages during the week, with Friday being the most popular day to do so.


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