As we begin to embrace longer days and shed our winter wardrobes, it’s a great time for retail marketers to re-evaluate the email calendar and replace ineffective strategies with fresh approaches. Here are a few of our favorite tips to heat up your summer email campaigns and reinvigorate your marketing efforts:
We conducted a survey to learn how retail marketers plan their email marketing calendars. We found that 85 percent of email marketers are relying too heavily on products and categories that worked well the previous year.
This is mirrored in our most recent study on email effectiveness in retail, where we found that it would take retailers an average of two years to introduce all their categories to email subscribers at their current rate. Instead of highlighting last year’s best sellers, email marketers need to recognize that email communications need to evolve along with consumers’ ever-changing tastes and preferences.
Consider making creatives for products or categories that haven’t yet been introduced to your customers. Then introduce new categories into a section of your email, while keeping the high-performing categories elsewhere in the email. When you include more category choices, you’ll have a better chance of finding relevant products for each customer.
It may sound simple, but many retailers are delivering emails that cover only one category or one type of email content, such as an email only filled with discounts. While other retailers like Neiman Marcus and EXPRESS have increased their customer engagement by displaying a variety of categories within each email, and mixing and matching editorial email content, product shots, and discounts.
Our survey on retail marketers also found that 74 percent of marketers create emails for a single day and never reuse or resend that content. These marketers likely assume that a customer wouldn’t want to see the same message in their inbox a second time, but that line of thinking leaves a lot of revenue on the table. The reality is that email creatives are time-consuming and costly to make, and chances are that many consumers will not remember the images you used.
As we mentioned above, you can also mix and match new email content with recycled content in different zones. For example, if you included a product image in the header of your email yesterday, you can then include it in an email below the fold a few weeks later. Another strategy is to track high-performing email content and use it for all new email subscribers at a later date. And finally, you can resend creatives to email subscribers who have received, but not opened, your previous email.
If there’s one thing we can’t stress enough, it’s that email marketers are not taking advantage of their purchase data to personalize the customer experience. While personalized campaigns drive higher revenue, most marketers collect customer data but do not use it.
Additionally, our research on email effectiveness in retail indicates that retailers are sending the exact same emails, on the same day, for 62 percent of their sends to both brand new customers and non-customers. They are also sending less emails to new customers than other email subscribers.
If you’re one of those retailers, it’s time to put your data to work. Make sure to separate your customers from non-customers, and new customers from other customers. (Most new customers are highly engaged and are open to receiving more emails than others.) Then use purchase data to recommend additional products or tailor your editorial content. Savvy retailers like L.L.Bean and Staples are doing this best by using machine learning to analyze customer data and predict the products that shoppers will want to see.
Instead of merchandise-driven, batch-and-blast email campaigns, consider what the customer wants to see and how to make them feel like an individual. By using a customer-centric and data-driven approach to email marketing, you’ll be sure to add some heat to your summer email campaigns, while generating the highest ROI and lifetime value.
To learn more about successful email marketing campaigns, check out Oracle’s Marketing Automation Simplified Guide for automation fundamentals in modern email marketing.