While other channels tend to get much of the hype, email marketing continues to be the most widely used and effective digital marketing tool for engaging with B2C and B2B prospects and customers. That’s an amazing testament to the skills of email marketers—especially when you consider that over 100 billion emails are sent each and every day.
It takes a certain type of individual to accept those odds and say ‘I can cut through the clutter.’ Some might even say it requires an obsession with details and a willingness to never be satisfied.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. My peers and I have the opportunity to meet with many email marketers throughout the year. Some are one-person departments in a small business; others are members of multi-national teams. Their marketing mix spans everything from newsletters, promotional and triggered sends to welcome, onboarding, and re-engagement campaigns. Regardless, the question is always the same: What can I do to get the most from my email investment?
While every situation is unique, there are three tactics that every marketer can apply to cut through each recipient’s overcrowded inbox. Let’s take a look.
Monitor the Health of Your Customer Relationships
Opens and clicks are standard measures for every email marketer, but it’s critical to detect early warning signs of disengaged subscribers. Failure to do so not only impacts ROI, it can damage your reputation with Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
It’s a situation that Ryan McGuire, Director of Contact Management at Luxottica, recently experienced. As the world’s largest eyewear company, Luxottica controls over 80% of the world’s major eyewear brands—including Ray-Ban, Persol, and Oakley—as well as over 7,000 retail locations such as Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and others.
“Email is an essential part of our mix, but we found ourselves in ‘Gmail Jail’ in the early part of 2014 ,” McGuire explains. “We had tried throttling our sends and trimming our lists, but we had dropped off the map. Even though we were sending to people who had opened within the previous six months, rebuilding our reputation meant we needed to restrict it to those who had opened in the previous 14 days. We’re now at 90 days, but it took a year to get there.”
Other factors to consider? In addition to recency, be sure to closely monitor spam reports and respect unsubscribe requests to prevent ISPs from blocking your sends. The value of targeting engaged subscribers will far outweigh the impact of large sends to disinterested recipients.
Choose Your Timing Wisely
Determining the perfect time to send emails can be tricky. Justin Parker, Director of Retention Marketing at The RealReal, advises that while there are many variables to consider, his programs are most successful when timing is correlated to the nature of the message.
Parker uses a combination of email, mobile and loyalty programs to engage buyers and consigners of luxury goods such as high-end designer brands, men’s and women’s fashion, fine jewelry and art.
“In our case, we have broad SKU breadth, but not broad SKU depth. Helping people find specific items of interest is critical. In addition to sending higher-volume emails when we update our ecommerce site each morning and afternoon, we trigger sends when changes occur to an item about which a specific subscriber has shown interest. For example, if the price drops, we’ll let them know right away,” says Parker.
When ‘breaking content’ is personalized based on subscriber-interest, The RealReal sees open rates up to 5-times higher than most emails, and click-through rates up to 10-times higher. Overall, The RealReal has experienced a 50% improvement rate in email opens, 75% growth in monthly repeat customers, and 300% increase in customer loyalty acquisition.
Personalize Dynamic Content in Real Time
Although marketing to significantly different audiences, The RealReal and Luxottica are great examples of companies that benefit from the power of personalization and dynamic content.
For Parker, it’s a natural way to engage subscribers who are accustomed to premium, 1-to-1 service.
“We add thousands of SKUs each day,” he explains. “If a customer browses our site at noon, and we add the item they’re looking for later that day, their next email from us will include Predictive Content. What’s great is it’s all done in real time. If we send the email on Thursday, and they open it on Saturday, it’s displaying the absolute latest products. Everything runs off a single email template. We can set it up once, test and send.
Likewise, Luxottica relies on embedded dynamic content to engage with each individual. For example, if a customer is due for an eye appointment with Lenscrafters, they’ll receive a reminder email that makes it simple to schedule.
“Scheduling an eye exam is highly correlated to purchases of eyewear. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for customers to find a convenient place, date and time for their visit. Based on their location, the dynamic content will provide options for their nearest store location and dates and times when appointments are available. Customers love it. We typically see a 30% uptick in click throughs,” says McGuire.
Keep Your Subscribers Coming Back for More
Regardless of the size of your marketing team or the types of products or services you offer, email marketing is all about keeping your customers engaged. As Luxottica and The RealReal illustrate, some simple steps can pay big dividends. You’ll reach more in-boxes, and your customers will find rewarding content that endears them to your brand.
Looking for some more tips on email marketing? Check out 5 Blueprints for Building Smarter Emails!