Email is the veteran workhorse of digital marketing — it’s been around for two decades and is relatively cheap and simple to deploy. Despite this, 9 out of 10 email programs fail, Forrester research has found. It’s a shame because the medium can be a brands’ wedge into customer-obsession and help them better understand their audience and connect with customers throughout the lifecycle.
And here’s another jarring stat: 74% of executives don’t expect their business to be better if they don’t make a change. Though email is a tenured member of a marketer’s digital toolbox, it isn’t stodgy and stubborn. It can be the driver of change within a business and between a brand and customers. In a webinar with Persado VP of Campaign Management, North America Kat Dessenon that featured Forrester VP Principal Analyst Serving CMO Professionals Shar VanBoskirk, the two dug into the mistakes, potential and emerging trends in email marketing. ICYMI: Here's the webinar.
You May Not Be as Customer Obsessed as You Think
Marketers are aware their brands have customers, and they know they have insights on their preferences. They may look at open rates and rinse, wash and repeat products and subject lines that were successful. But that’s a reason brands are coming up short with their audience. Customer-obsessed brands place their audience at the center of everything they do, from hiring to choosing locations for brick-and-mortar stores. They are insights-driven and place a premium on speed, not perfection. (Note: This is not an excuse to be irresponsible, such as by releasing an unsafe product. Rather, it means customers are entitled and expect brands to act quickly. Instead of making sure every little thing is just right, roll out the product, gauge customer response and adjust.) Internally, teams work together, rather than in silos, to provide insights for getting to know customers.
It’s Time to Hack Your Email!
Email marketing is the tried-and-true method of becoming customer-obsessed — 95% of enterprise marketers are using it. But VanBoskirk suggested marketers hit the refresh button on their programs. For almost 20 years, the medium has played a promotional role. There’s still a place for that, but what if it could be used for more, such as connecting with customers at every touchpoint? Instead of looking like a newsletter with a bunch of blue links, email can be a complete digital experience. Take American Express. The brand identifies the user by their email address, recognizes an itinerary for international travel based on a credit card purchase, automatically updates the travel notification for the card and keeps the user informed. It’s helpful and one less thing for the user to have to worry about as they plan their trip.
Tenure Your Email Team
Quite often, email marketing is seen as a stepping stone, but tenured teams create more sophisticated programs. Try mixed-function seating, so no one is sitting by a member of their team or department — that way, employees are hearing and picking up on new things. Starbucks has a time-limited assignment program, where people can earn their way into different teams. When they come back to their “home job,” they have new, fresh perspectives. MasterCard allows junior employees to mentor senior ones, keeping them abreast on new and emerging trends including technology.
Hear Your Customers Out
Customers want to be heard, and brands can gain valuable insights from their opinions. Surveys are a popular way, but the above method, which often comes in the form of a pop-up on a brands’ web page, can come off as intrusive. Persado has seen positive engagement from surveys sent via email, such as these:
Me, Me, Me
Customers not only want to be heard, but they also want brands to make life easier for them and tell them more about themselves. For example, Sephora provides tracking information in an email — no need to click or enter a number somewhere else.
Spotify sends users an email with their top songs of the year, neatly wrapped in a playlist. Bonus: There are cross-channel possibilities with this. Notice how it’s a trending Twitter topic, and Spotify promoted a hashtag.
Bottom Line: Everything in marketing has had to evolve, and email is no exception. If marketers and executives want to see a bump in business in 2019, don’t look past the steadfast medium.
For a look at what’s coming to web and e-commerce in 2019, tune into our webinar Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. ET/ 8 a.m. PT. Register.