With a 4400 percent ROI, email is one of the most valuable marketing tools for brands. In fact, most brand marketers will tell you their sales will drop if they stop sending emails, and they need to watch their subscriber churn rates very closely. But what are the best general practices that can make or break a retailer’s email strategy?
With the holiday season upon us, there’s no time like the present to find out. Here are five practices that brand marketers should keep in mind to get the most out of their holiday email efforts.
The average number of emails sent per day is a highly contentious number in the retail industry and there is no magical number. It’s a fine line between engaging an audience and driving sales, versus abusing a customer list and unintentionally driving valuable customers away.
While it requires some data analysis, adjustments, and patience, timing emails to reach each customer at the most opportune moment will increase engagement and ultimately lift sales. For example, after sending and analyzing the data from test emails, a brand could determine that a specific audience segment, such as females ages 40-50, might be opening the most emails on a Saturday morning when it originally thought Monday afternoon was the best time. At the end of the day, the optimal email frequency comes down to a brand’s audience, so continually testing and analyzing the cadence that has the best results is essential.
Exposing a breadth of products is an important way to make sure emails are relevant to shoppers, even if the main content of the email does not directly apply to them. In situations with new shoppers, the more categories that are exposed, the greater the opportunity for finding the categories that appeal to them. This is especially important when many people are shopping for friends and family during the holiday season.
However, it’s easier said than done. Data from a recent Coherent Path and RSR Research study found that the vast majority of brands evaluated include different categories in less than 50 percent of their emails. At that rate, it will take most retailers more than three years to expose their entire catalog. Using customer data to identify categories that will serve otherwise underserved populations not only exposes more of a brand’s catalog but enables them to make future offers that align with the customer’s evolving tastes.
If email content is too long, consumers are less likely to see messages at the bottom of an email. Offers with very generic subject lines — “You’ll Love This” or “Offer Inside” — leave little incentive for consumers to scroll through the entire email. Offering engaging, personalized messages that meet the promise in the subject line are key in standing out in a sea of holiday promotional emails.
Just as important as the messaging, brand marketers need to maximize the lifespan of every email, which is why it’s essential to keep an updated archive of past email campaigns. Brand marketers should include tags, start dates, and launch dates in their email marketing platform, as data can then be mined from this information to test, analyze and retarget content.
While email remains one of the most important channels for marketers, mobile delivery is close behind. According to eMarketer, more than half of emails worldwide (55 percent) were opened in a mobile environment in 2017, more than webmail (28%) and desktop (16%) combined. So, it may be a surprise to know 60 percent of the retailers evaluated in the same Coherent Path and RSR Research report do not send any mobile-optimized emails. In order to effectively see results from email marketing campaigns, brand marketers need to ensure each of those emails is ready for reading by the 74 percent of smartphone owners who use their mobile phones to check email.
Discounting comes with some serious drawbacks — lower perceived value, profit cuts and setting bad precedents, to name a few — and simply aren’t as necessary as they once were thanks to new developments in data science and personalization. Not only does heavily discounting train customers to wait until the price is lowered, but it does little when it comes to holding onto loyal, repeat customers. Rather than defaulting to discounts, brand marketers should focus on understanding the customer journey and offering products that customers love and are willing to buy at full price.
Email is one of the most important parts of a brand’s marketing mix, so simply "mailing it in" isn’t an option. By implementing these five best practices, retailers will be able to get the most value out of their email strategy just in time for the holidays. For a more detailed approach and more best practices, check out the Email Deliverability Modern Marketing Guide, available for download now.