Modern Marketing Blog

Email Marketing | April 12, 2016

Email's Future: Custom App Experiences for the Inbox

Research shows that apps dominate the time consumers spend on the mobile web (especially for social media and entertainment), but a large chunk of retail brands still struggle to grow large audiences for their apps. Not only do you need to spend time and resources building a mobile app that actually delivers value and a good user experience, you then have to get consumers to download it, compete for real estate on their home screen, and hope they don’t simply delete it later on.

The truth is that run-of-the-mill mobile content alone isn’t enough to keep consumers coming back to an app. If the app somehow ties into something they do every day, like buy coffee in the morning or track their daily fitness activity, consumers might keep your app front and center. Similarly, utility apps that link to offline behavior like Uber also do well. But how can any brand easily extend its reach and duplicate the app experience to a larger and more highly-engaged audience? Email.

Today, email is extremely versatile and has evolved way past the static one-touch message. By leveraging API integrations, marketers can turn email into a dynamic hub of live content and deliver everything multiple custom apps might be capable of; where consumers already spend hours of their day, in their inbox. Not only does email allow you to reach millions of customers beyond those who have actually downloaded your app, it enables you to personalize content in ways that drive the most valuable type of engagement, sales.

What types of useful and actionable information could you pull into email to create a compelling custom app experience for consumers? Let’s take a look.

Live Reservation Services

Making, changing, and upgrading reservations and appointments can be a headache for customers; whether booking an airline ticket, making restaurant reservations, or scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Using API integrations, brands can provide a compelling experience within the inbox, by replicating much of the functionality usually delivered via a website or an app.

For example, an airline can use its departure day confirmation email to show a live seating chart with seat upgrade options that refreshes every time the customer opens the email. Similarly, appointment-based service providers, like a chain of eyeglass stores, could use geo-targeting to show recipients locations closest to them and available appointment slots, allowing them to schedule right from the email.

Live Social Content

Marketers are increasingly discovering the power of combining the engagement of social media with the reach and ROI of email. Using custom API integrations, marketers can pull live social media feeds directly into their email from Twitter or Instagram.

Incorporating social into your email campaigns can help you leverage the power of social in two ways: by bringing emails to life with fresh, authentic visual content; and turning your customers into brand advocates by letting them share their positive experiences with user-generated social content. For example, a fashion brand could encourage customers to post photos of themselves on Instagram using the brand’s product with a special hashtag.

Live Promotions and Rewards

When marketers want to send emails that have a direct response focus, API integrations allow brands to pull in live data to ensure that their latest deals and product information are shown at the moment a customer opens the email. For example, a big box retailer could use APIs to automatically update the promotional content in their emails as the offers and inventory change, even if the email is already in the customer’s inbox.

Rewards and loyalty points can often go forgotten, which doesn’t do the customer any good, especially if they expire. Using API integrations, brands of all kinds can use email to show customers their points balance in real time at the moment of open, and also display personalized redemption options based upon each user’s number of available points. This can greatly increase response rates and deliver a win-win for brand and customer alike.

Email continues to be a workhorse for digital marketers. It’s a cost-efficient channel that consistently delivers tremendous engagement and ROI, if executed well. When used as an open platform built upon API integrations that access data from multiple sources, email has the potential to evolve with powerful new use cases that enrich the customer experience and boost results even further.

See examples of how brands have used live data in their emails by downloading Live Data in Email: The Lookbook.

We'll also be hosting a joint webinar on April 14 at 1 PM ET to discuss how to create and deliver amazing customer experiences in the inbox, so register now to save your spot.

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