Numerous digital technologies and online marketing channels are available to today’s marketers, however email marketing is still considered the giant of digital marketing. In fact, email is actually increasing in popularity as younger generations flock to their smartphones to communicate with their peers, social networks, and favorite brands.
According to Gigaom Research, marketers consistently rank email as the single most effective channel for awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention. WBR Digital and marketing automation service provider Emarsys conducted a survey earlier this year among retail professionals with annual revenues under $100 million. The research reported similar results, with 81% and 80% of respondents respectively reporting that email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention.
The “Email Marketing Industry Census 2016,” published by Econsultancy and Adestra also reports that email is the fastest-growing channel for marketing ROI. 73 percent of company respondents rated email marketing as “excellent” or “good” in terms of ROI, which is up from 66 percent in 2015. The research also revealed that companies that invest at least one-fifth of their marketing budgets on email are eight times more likely to see 50 percent more sales attributable to it.
Integrate Email Across Channels
It’s no longer enough to send one-off campaigns. Each customer touchpoint must be a seamless link to increase engagement along the customer journey. Consumers quickly skip around from channel to channel on their journey to purchase. Regardless of where they choose to interact with your brand, they are channel-agnostic, meaning they expect the exact same experience wherever they are engaging with you. As quickly as consumers move from device to device or channel to channel, each channel must also be integrated just as quickly to provide a consistent customer view at all times.
Email should be used throughout the customer’s path to purchase – before, during, and after the purchase. Customer journey mapping is a powerful way to determine which mix of channels your customers are using and when email should be used to further enhance the customer experience. Mapping the journey considers each engagement point your customers are using, developing an understanding of each stage, and discovering an awareness of any obstacles along the way.
By implementing customer journey mapping strategies, marketers can understand which message strategies to use at different stages. When using email, promotional, broadcast type of emails play an important role but email is also an important channel to encourage engagement at crucial points. For example, triggered shopping cart abandonment messages produce the highest ROI for ecommerce brands. Data by Soundest reports that the average revenue per promotional email is $0.02, birthday emails result in $0.07, welcome emails $0.18 and abandoned cart emails $5.64.
A sophisticated marketing automation platform can collect and unify data in real time and then deploy a triggered email based on the customer’s profile and behavioral data. For example, in the case of an abandoned shopping cart email, an email can be deployed based on items browsed, items placed in a shopping cart, demographics, and other real-time insights.
Millennials Preferred Way to Communicate with Brands is Through Email
Email marketing is also a key way to target the millennial generation. Although email is not seen as their preferred mode of communication with their peers and social networks, when it comes to communicating with brands, email takes the top spot. According to a survey from Adobe, 58 percent of millennials say that email is their preferred way to be contacted by a brand.
In another report by Adestra, these numbers were even higher. The company’s Consumer Usage and Digital Adoption report found that when it comes to interacting with brands, nearly 68 percent of teens and 73 percent of those aged 19-34 prefer communications from businesses to come via email.
According to the report, “Younger consumers sign up for brand emails, primarily for promotions and product information. Forty-seven percent of teens sign up just because they love the brand. Those emails tend to generate more consumer trend than the Facebook posts, both from the brands and their actual friends.”
Complete Email Personalization is Coming Soon
Econsultancy asked marketers: “What do you think the single biggest to change to email marketing will be, when looking ahead 5 years. According to the survey, the top 3 responses of those who strongly agreed or somewhat agreed included:
- 84% – Email will be fully integrated with other marketing channels
- 76% – All email communication will be completely personalized
- 74% – Email will still be one of the highest channels for delivering ROI
Email personalization reduces unsubscribe rates and has a major impact on boosting revenue. A report by Silverpop found that 50% of consumers unsubscribe from an email list due to irrelevant emails. This impact of unsubscribes adds up to a loss of 60% in future lifetime value (LTV) (AgilOne). However, when emails are personalized, the average click-through rate is 2.5 times higher with an average increase of 5.7 in revenue.
Marketers who realize the full impact personalization can bring to the table are now experimenting with numerous data points to add value to their emails. Research by VentureBeat show that marketers can use data such as location, transaction history, demographics, open time, social profiles, and more in their personalization techniques.
Ultimately, email marketing is a channel that produces results. However, the channel is rapidly evolving and sophisticated marketers need to use data and technology in more sophisticated ways to engage consumers with highly personalized messaging to drive conversions.