In this opinion piece, Tom Wright, managing director of Search Optics APAC, argues that no one likes generic marketing emails that prioritise the seller over the audience, and if you’re a marketer that includes your customers…
How often do you open your inbox and delete promotional emails without even a moment’s hesitation? If you are like me, probably very often. Why? Because we simply aren’t interested in the product or the offer.
It’s easy to see why some businesses try to find alternatives to email marketing. They just don’t stand a chance any more.
Done right email can be a hugely powerful tool, but it’s most engaging when it offers the type of compelling content consumers want to engage with, not simply what businesses want to sell. And with the rise of mobile, it’s more important than ever to take a strategic approach to communications that closely aligns with customers’ needs and interests.
In other words, no one likes generic marketing emails that prioritise the seller over the audience, and if you’re a marketer that includes your customers.
The need for timely, relevant communications
Just like you, your customers have grown accustomed to smart device interfaces and social media algorithms that can learn their interests and deliver an endless feed of personalised content.
As a result, they now expect total customisation on every platform—including their email inbox. Just think about it: if all the emails you received addressed a specific, personal need at exactly the right time, you’d probably open a lot more of it.
That point of view was reinforced in an eConsultancy and RedEye survey, which found that 90 per cent of companies experienced uplift in conversion when they personalised emails. 30 per cent of respondents called it a “highly valuable” conversion technique.
The survey also found that more businesses were looking to increase personalisation to boost conversion rates, with 47 per cent looking to use event-triggered or behaviour email and 38 per cent implementing abandonment emails. Clearly, the business benefits of personalised email communications can hardly be underestimated.
The shift toward data
Of course, creating customised, relevant communications that address individual customer needs is easier said than done. Ironically the digital marketing industry as a whole can partly blame their current communications challenges on their own traditional methods for evaluating campaigns.
Back in the days when TV, radio and print media dominated, marketers had the luxury of large audiences with predictable demographics. Campaign effectiveness was measured with impressions, simply counting the individuals who had the opportunity to see an ad. In large part, success was about numbers.
Fast-forward to present day, when fractured audiences divide themselves across multiple devices and channels, often according to narrow and specific interests. Marketers face an attribution nightmare as shoppers engage with a wide range of touchpoints, both online and offline, during a single buying journey. Opportunities for marketers to reach a unified audience with a homogenous set of interests have become almost nonexistent, and getting a message in front of as many people as possible has become less important than getting it in front of the right people.
The good news is you already have much of what you need to change the way you communicate with your customers.
That underappreciated resource is the information you keep in your databases, such as your customers’ shopping history, geographic location and content consumption habits.This data is antidote to the generic, one-size-fits-all marketing email: micro-targeted communications customised for specific customers’ needs and interests.
Best practices for data-driven campaigns
Of course, it’s impossible for your staff to manually sift through massive amounts of data quickly enough to distill it into timely, relevant communications. That’s where marketing automation comes in. Although it’s a technical process, it has the very human element of understanding customers as individuals, rather than as a monolithic group.
Here are some best practices that you should keep in mind as you develop data-driven campaigns:
- Target throughout lifecycle: Target your customers throughout their purchase lifecycle by considering key points at which they may experience a need your business can fulfill. Look at the times when existing customers make contact with your dealership – service appointments, lease expiration, vehicle trade-ins, etc., and plan to reach out to others at those times.
- Deliver timely messages: Driving engagement, loyalty and sales isn’t just about developing relevant content; it’s also about getting the timing right. Delivering post-sales or post-service messages is a great opportunity to show customers you care about their experience—sowing the seeds for repeat business.
- Think beyond sales: Customer information in your database may indicate an interest in communication beyond sales, which can go a long way toward building loyalty and preference for your business if properly targeted. For example, if a customer has attended a charity event your business sponsored in the past, be sure to send them targeted messages informing them of similar events, like a charity test drive event, in the future.
- Leverage third-party data: Your campaigns can gain an edge if you combine your own data with information from outside sources to target specific segments of your customers. For example, a marketing automation platform might enable you to create conquesting campaigns for in-market shoppers. Using data such as post code and buying history, you could deliver targeted emails featuring promotions for a selection of products your customers are likely to be interested in.
Leveraging data using a marketing automation platform has great potential to deliver a range of valuable business benefits. As customers will be more likely to open and read your emails, you’ll have greater opportunity to drive sales.
Over time, your customers will become accustomed to receiving your communications and taking advantage of relevant offers, building interest in your company over competitors.
Additionally, marketing automation helps solve attribution problems with email links and personal URLs, giving you a much stronger understanding of campaign ROI.