When is an email not just an email?
When it’s the key to identifying and understanding your customers — and the core of a People-Based Marketing strategy.
Email is ubiquitous. It’s what we use to log into social media, online stores, devices and browsers.For marketers, email is a customer’s fingerprint, connecting all the breadcrumbs of multi-channel customer identities, including devices, demographics, in-store behavior. These data connections, thanks to email, power People-Based Marketing.
Traditional email marketing is here to stay, too. It’s cheap, reliable and customizable. It’s great for customer service, promotions, information, onboarding — or even just for fun. Customers love email, and email marketing consistently sees a huge ROI.
And if you’re just scratching the surface with a People-Based Marketing strategy, email marketing is a great place to start personalizing.
Here’s how our experts see email driving a People-Based Marketing future.
Why is email still an important marketing strategy?
Gary Beck, Chief Strategy Officer at Endai, a data-driven online marketing agency: Email continues to be one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available today. It is addressable based on the data available to us, can be customized to individuals and results can be read quickly. Most marketing gurus agree that email will be an important channel for the foreseeable future.
Alessandra Ceresa, Content and Engagement Specialist at GreenRope, a small business CRM: Email never went away and won’t anytime soon. Email is one of the most effective (and easiest) ways to segment and personalize your marketing messages. If you are new to personalization, start with email. It’s easy to start small and work your way up to advanced segmentation and automation. Email lets you send tailored messages using merge fields and dynamic content. You can take any information you have stored in your CRM to help tailor the message. Then, take it even further by automating the messages based on your contact’s behavior. For example, if a lead opens and email and clicks on a link for a promotion, automate your promo emails and other follow up to help drive the sale. Also, if you keep up with marketing news, email still sees the highest ROI of any marketing channel. Why? Because there is so much you can do with it to make it relevant, timely and inspiring.
Jason Oates, Chief Business Officer at LiveIntent, which connects brands to people along the customer journey: According to a MarketingSherpa study, “email is the most preferred communication method for current customers. The researchers found that the large majority of U.S. adults (72%) prefer communication with companies to happen through email.” They also said that “Nine out of 10 (91%) of U.S. adults said they like to receive promotional emails from companies they already do business with.”
Debbie Tolman, Senior Manager of Audience Engagement at Cox Media Group, which integrates broadcasting, publishing and digital media to create a local impact with real journalism: Email is still a personal, one-to-one channel.
What does a People-Based Marketing email strategy look like?
Beck: A People-Based email strategy is one where the offers, messages and frequency of communication are tailored to consumers based on their wants, needs and what is most relevant to them. For example, some groups of customers may receive daily emails, while other segments may receive weekly emails. The most valuable customers may receive special incentives to purchase, while customers who seem to be inactive may receive special reactivation offers. Millennials might receive special personalized offers that are different from those offered to Baby Boomers. Generally speaking, the strategy is to make each email as relevant as possible to the recipient and create the best long-term result.
Ceresa: A People-Based email marketing strategy means you put the consumer at the forefront of your strategy. You speak to them specifically, not to a pool of numbers. This means using their first name when you address them, paying attention to who they are, what they do, where they live, etc. If they ski in the winter, sending tennis gear in the middle of a snowstorm might not work in your best interest. Get to know the readers. Collect a list of interests based off of clicks, opens, items and services purchased, title, industry, location. All of these little bits and pieces of information can be used to relate and grab your reader’s attention, so encourage them to trust you. One important thing to focus on as you implement a more People-Based Marketing strategy is to think about the timing of your messages. Are you really sending your messages at a time that is optimal for your reader? Have you tested this out at all? There is nothing more annoying than getting a barrage of emails sent to your inbox at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning. If I get 22 emails, I usually delete all 22 emails. If however, I am sitting at home at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night and I receive a message that specifically relates to my non-work activities, then I am more inclined to take the time to open and read what the email has to say. See what I mean? Timing can make or break your approach.
Oates: A People-Based email marketing strategy starts with what the people opening your emails are seeing. Most email marketing is currently rules-based and relies pretty heavily on A/B testing, which is great and very effective, but it's not People-Based. It's optimizing to the highest performing average. A marketer leveraging a People-Based Marketing platform like LiveIntent can actually connect the intent of the person opening in the email to a number of other factors in order to determine the offer with the highest probability of driving engagement. So, it increases personalization and performance. Then it's about taking that same list and increasing the effective open rate by matching those customers with complementary messaging everywhere they are present — which, in our case, means third-party email newsletters, but could also be a Facebook or something else. So while you're reaching maybe 20% of customers with an offer in your own emails, you could increase that to 40% by extending that across our inventory.
Tolman: Dynamic data-fed content that makes every email unique to the recipient. Emails will be like snowflakes.
How does email fit into a People-Based, multi-channel strategy?
Beck: Email is simply one channel in an omni-channel world, albeit an important one due to the synergies it provides. For example, our experience has shown that the combination of email and postal mail in a campaign out-performs the results of either channel operating alone. Similarly, there’s ample evidence that email provides synergies with almost every marketing channel that is available to us. Sending the right message to the right person at the right time will continue to be the rallying cry of email marketing efforts in omni-channel campaigns as marketers become more technologically sophisticated in the years ahead.
Ceresa: Email is inherently part of an omnichannel approach, and should be a large part of your strategy in general. One way or another, email is going to find its way, so might as well embrace it and do it right at the same time. For example, if a lead comes in via live chat, one way to follow up with them and start nurturing them is to trigger a drip campaign, or a series of targeted emails. How about the ability to trigger an email campaign from social engagement, or to trigger a print marketing campaign from an email click? You see the possibilities?
Oates: I go back to … “It’s all about the journey." No matter where someone is in their customer journey, there’s an opportunity to identify and engage them in a meaningful way. We at LiveIntent call it “Being Present.” Brands should always be aware when it’s possible to engage people in first- and third-party emails and the open web, and have the opportunity to engage when it’s helpful to consumers. Email is no longer about sending email. Email is used to log into social and every ecommerce platform, and is the single largest digital human identifier ever created. Email is about identity and a brand’s ability to use a combination of deterministic and probabilistic IDs to find and engage people across all channels. One or more email addresses should sit at the center of any individual’s comprehensive ID graph. Every time someone opens and email, logs into a website or makes a purchase, there’s an opportunity to refresh the graph and score the quality of the IDs within that graph, which is why active email addresses are so critical to any omni-channel approach.
Tolman: The email address itself is a data point that helps links actions across channels. Email also provides leading indicators that can advance other channels faster. However, the best channel is the one that the customer is most comfortable with. You need to be using all of the channels well so you are providing the best experience no matter where the customer finds you.
Email is the ultimate datapoint and the ultimate social medium. It’s how we connect our customers, and how we connect with our customers. It’s a tool for personalizing and a message to personalize.
Email is the center of People-Based Marketing — and the center of marketing’s future.