With email continuing to be one of the top-performing online marketing channels, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that my inbox is overrun with bland, generic emails. Why change what seems to be working? But change is inevitable. If you don’t believe me, just look at what evolving consumer expectations have done to many legacy retailers.
First, a look at some numbers. The Relevancy Group reports that U.S. marketing executives attribute 23% of total revenue in Q2 2017 to email, a 21% year-over-year increase. But other research suggests consumers expect more. A Flagship Research report from 2016 showed that 62% of consumers expect website browse behavior to be used to personalize emails, and 76% expect the same with purchase history. Relevance matters to consumers, especially when it comes to marketing emails.
Traditional promotional emails can still deliver revenue, but relevant, personalized emails can deliver much more. I know, you don’t have a lot of resources at your disposal. I know, it’s only you running the show. And yes, I know you already have a welcome series (well, really, I hope you do). But I also know an excuse when I hear one.
The fact is, while some strategies require larger resources or investments, many do not – and those that don’t can pay huge dividends. Make 2018 excuse-free. Roll up your sleeves, and improve your email program. Here are three ways to get started.
Step 1: Reassess Your Welcome Series
If a 60-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman sign up to receive your emails, will they receive the same welcome series? If the answer is yes, you need to make adjustments. Consumers expect relevance. Sending the same message to both subscribers is not that.
There are a couple of ways to do this. Look at what page, or category, the sign-up came from, and deliver specific messaging based on the acquisition source. If they signed up from the maternity category, customize their messaging to match. If they signed up on the men’s swim trunks page, do the same. Apply this strategy not only to the first message, but the entire series as well. Tracking the source is easy to do with a simple piece of source code, a field identifier or by using a unique sign-up form. The best part is that you can implement this tracking before any messages are even created, which gives you valuable segmentation information on your subscribers before new welcome messages start sending.
In lieu of this tactic, or in addition to it, determine the welcome series based on the actual clicks inside of your welcome email. If a subscriber receives a generic welcome message and clicks on the maternity navigation bar link, the next message should be maternity-focused. The same goes for other clicks. This allows subscribers to control their own on-boarding experience. One company who tried this saw increases to every email metric for the customized message versus the generic one. The personalized message generated 140% more revenue than the generic version, while making up only 3% of the volume of sends.
In both instances, setting up the automation and tracking the data are extremely easy to do. And messages can be created and implemented one at a time. Gradually implementing new messages will require less resources for execution because it’s not an all-at-once strategy. As a bonus, think about all of the segmentation data you’ll capture with this click behavior while implementing your plan.
Step 2: Personalize Your Cart Recovery Strategy
Should a customer abandoning $800 worth of products receive the same message as the customer who abandoned one $50 item? Their obstacles to conversion and motivations for purchase are likely very different. Yet, in most cases, each gets the same message.
Why not customize the message to overcome potential hurdles? You have a lot of cart data readily available that can help you make these messages more relevant. For products themselves, look at things like cart total, SKUs, product category, margin of products, sale price, what gender would likely use it and/or sale end date. Consider the actual shopper by looking at their purchase history, such as recency of last purchase, lifetime AOV or total number of orders.
Such data can help you determine how to overcome conversion obstacles and what types of messages to communicate to the would-be buyer, including when to send them, how many to send and what types of incentives to offer, if any. Addressing the shoppers’ needs – for example, communicating about installation and haul-away services for specific cart SKUs – can be a great way to address the individual shopper. Personalizing messages in a meaningful way, while protecting margins, lets both customers and retailers win.
Step 3: Think About What They Want
While relevant lifecycle messages can drive significant revenue, so too can your promotional messages. Crafting 50 segments to use in daily promotional emails isn’t realistic for most retailers, but you don’t have to settle for generic batch-and-blast messaging either. Inserting intuitive product recommendations into your emails is an excellent way to make emails more relevant.
Using product recommendations that take into account individual browse and purchase history, email content, and even your select business rules, can deliver powerful results. Think about your everyday promotional email sends. With a batch-and-blast strategy, each message is relevant to only a portion of the audience at any one time. With individual recommendations, some part of that message will be relevant at all times.
Include recommendations not only in your promotional messages but also any triggered message, such as order and shipping confirmations, birthday messages, post-purchase messages, and even cart abandonment emails. You can even use recommendations as stand-alone email content. In addition to being relevant, these types of emails provide a nice change of pace from the standard promotional messages.
The best thing about using product recommendations is that they don’t require extra resources, so you can still focus on growing your email ROI. How does generating 33% more revenue from your emails sound? That’s what one company saw from emails sent with recommendations versus those without. People like personalization.
“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying”
This line is from one of my favorite movies, and it sums up email marketing perfectly. Being complacent with your email program in 2018 is not the key to success. In fact, it may be the ticket to gradual failure. With competition coming from every direction, consumers are quick to tune it out. Personalization can help you cut through the noise. Are your emails differentiating you from your competitors? Do they give consumers what they want? If not, 2018 is a perfect time to ditch the monotonous one-size-fits-all messaging and get personal.
Greg Zakowicz is a Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst at Bronto Software