Data + Tech + Messaging = Customer Engagement

Email is not just a tactic. It’s a strategic communication channel, one that’s capable of generating an immediate response. With more digital channels, campaigns and data, messaging is becoming more complex, but managing that complexity can lead to deep, long lasting and engaged customer relationships.

Messaging can fall into the categories of being focused on the product, brand or offer. Data enables customer profiling, advanced segmentation, precise targeting, dynamic customization and unique 1-to-1 messaging.

Matt Vernhout, Chief Privacy Officer and Manager of Deliverability at Inbox Marketer outlined the parameters for his presentation at Interact 2013 with a formula for customer engagement – leveraging a combination of customer data, messaging technology and digital messaging.  Through a series of case studies, he highlighted how brands were able to more successfully engage customers.

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Case Study 1: Walgreens Demonstrates The Value of Combining Data Sets

By getting data from the Centre for Disease Control, Walgreens was able to provide value for their customer database by sending coupons to people in places of high flu density.  Walgreens’ success stems from the following:

  • Going beyond clickstream
  • Combining data sets
  • Profiling, segmenting and targeting customers
  • Leveraging on insights to drive behavior change

Case Study 2: SureBaby Provides Useful Information for Mums-To-Be

SureBaby, an online community for mums-to-be places subscribers into automated stream. Aside from sending a welcome message, SureBaby tracks the progress of their subscribers’ pregnancies and sends relevant emails based on the number of weeks a mum-to-be is pregnant.

Case Study 3: Petro-Canada Reactivates Customer Purchase Behavior

Petro-Canada runs a Petro-Points Loyalty Program for customers and enters declining purchasers into an email program. Through the automation of a dynamic eFlyer that pulls products and offers based on customer location data and postal codes, Petro-Canada were able to streamline their team and channel resources to more needed areas, going from a team of 7 to 3 people managing the program. A third of declining purchases also went back to their normal behavior.

Matt talked about how it was necessary to set up a messaging blueprint once so as to fully understand the program and what data can tell you.

Relevant content is critical, so optimize messages / campaigns, and send messages based on behavior by:

  • Automating data flow (2 ways)
  • Automating messaging
  • Using triggers and business rules
  • Designing for all devices

Case Study 4:  Publix Created A Sense of Urgency With Real-Time Messaging

Publix, a supermarket chain, created a sense of urgency among customers for their products by allowing them to sign up for alerts the moment fresh fruit reached shelves.  An engagement stream was created where customers received six touches over 31 days through email and SMS. There was a retention stream, where customers received relevant product eAlerts, as well as a loyalty stream.

Publix was able to succeed in their campaign through dynamic customization. They created personalized content using dynamic blocks, were relevant and the smarter messaging approach they took led to customer engagement and behavior change.

Case Study 5: M&M Meat Shops Targeted Behaviors To Change

Having done a lot of research, M&M Meat Shops discovered that while their customers’ lifestyles have changed over the last decade, the company had done little to keep up with those changes.  With the goals of increasing shopping frequency in a key segment and upselling new products and categories, M&M Meat Shops decided to move away from the “one size fits all” messaging approach.

They created an eMax eFlyer, which was one publication that was intended to satisfy 10 objectives. The eMax eFlyer incorporated 20% loyalty messaging, 10% new product features and 20% on brand and lifestyle messaging. It had content geared towards:

  • Purchase: Recipes, Product Suggestions
  • Segments: Content, Images
  • Shopping: Promotions, Offers

Matt concluded his presentation by emphasizing the need to tap into data, technology and messaging to become a leader in the industry:

  • Combine and condition data
  • Set up message automation and triggers
  • Segment audience to deliver relevant messaging

While personalization appears to be key to customer engagement, Matt was also quick to warn about the creep factor – mainly don’t freak your customers out by sending them information that is too personal. Remember Target?

Yep, we do too. No one wants to be confronted by an angry dad, so pretend that you know less than you do so as not to creep out your customers in sensitive situations!

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

A recent study suggests that this might be the case, although numerous prior studies have come to different conclusions. That same study  stated that consumers continue to appreciate personalized product recommendations, so it appears that the extent of relevance in email personalization is the point of contention rather than its use. Does the future still lie in behaviour-triggered automated emails then? We’ve curated posts on both sides of the debate in this week’s issue of the email marketing digest for your consideration.

Marketers Undervalue Email, Overvalue Personalization

The Economist Intelligence Unit and Lyris report that emails hold more sway than social media, blogs and mobile when it comes to influencing a purchase.

When it comes to products, 51% preferred to learn about it through the company website, 19% through email and 19% through an independent website. Younger consumers (age 20-30) indicated similar preferences with 48% choosing company websites, 19% email and finally social media (5%) and blogs (2%).

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63% of consumers say they have grown numb to personalization and 33% indicated that superficial personalization annoyed them.

7 Excellent Examples of Email Personalization in Action

If you are going the personalized email route, Hubspot has a few great examples of email personalization. Here’s an educational email from Dropbox about a product feature that was triggered by user behavior.

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Personalized Promotional and Triggered Emails Seen Delivering Strong Results

An study released by Experian Marketing Services in March shows that personalized promotional and triggered emails deliver stronger open and click rates than their non-personalized emails. These personalized emails also have higher transaction rates and revenue per email.

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Email Marketing: Your questions about personalization and length

Here’s an excerpt from Responsys’ Vice President of Strategy, Rich Fleck’s interview with David Kirkpatrick on personalization:

“They (digitally savvy consumers) move seamlessly between digital channels (Facebook, website, email, mobile, etc.) and they expect this to be an integrated experience.

Personalization supports this new expectation – as marketers, the more relevantly we are able to speak with a consumer, the better the response rate. With crowded inboxes and the abundance of digital messaging, personalization is an effective tool to cut through the noise and attract consumer attention with a relevant and timely message.”

Of course, more marketing gems lie within the actual article so do read the full article.

Marketers Don’t Send Personalized Emails (Infographic)

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Could it be that consumers have reached the tipping point when it comes email personalization? We present both sides of the debate. We leave the decision to you (and your A/B testing).

Email Personalization is one part of the marketing puzzle, deliverability is the next. Find out what it takes to get email in the inbox when you watch the Six Secrets of Successful Sending Webinar!

6 Secrets of Successful Sending

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

On this week’s edition of the email marketing news digest we’re looking at what the experts have to say on the do’s and don’ts of email segmentation. We present the views, so you can do your own testing to see what works best for your business! And for the email segmentation experts out there, we’ve kept it diversified with tips from mobile marketing and study results on the industry performance of email marketing.

7 simple and effective ways to use email segmentation

Targeting increases relevance, which in turn boosts customer engagement leading to increased email clicks and open rates. Targeting is achieved through segmentation and here are 7 ways to segment an email list:

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  • Gender
  • Geotargeting
  • Age
  • Automated triggers
  • Purchase data
  • Activity
  • Customer Preferences

Break These Email Segmentation Best Practices

While the previous article gives a good overview of basic email segmentation practices, Jordie van Rijn provides examples where it’s okay to make an exception, or to go one step further in ensuring your email is both relevant and targeted.

  • Early segmentation – Sometimes it’s best to put off collecting customer preferences to make email sign-up less painful. Instead, go for a customer preference center.
  • Age & behavior – Don’t make assumptions about age group. For example, just because you are targeting baby boomers doesn’t mean you don’t need an email that is optimized for mobile.
  • Gender segmentation – Remember that during the season of giving, people might purchase something on your site for the opposite gender as a gift.
  • Geographic location – Rethink the way you present content to a national audience if you segment by geography. Be creative!

Using Mobile Marketing Tactics to Add Email Subscribers

Couple of weeks back we featured an article on how you can improve email deliverability through SEO tactics. Now we’re letting mobile marketing teach us a few new tricks. Get users to opt in to receiving email through text by:

  • Asking them
  • Offering incentives
  • Opt-ins within mobile apps
  • Point-of-Sale
  • Customer review
  • Captive audiences
  • Short codes
  • QR codes

We’re all about multi-channel these days so we might as well apply that to our marketing tactics as well!

5 Ways to Personalize Emails and Enhance Open Rates

Our client Eloqua has gathered data revealing that personalized subject lines are key to open rates. Email subject lines that contain the name and one other personal detail perform the best.

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Here are 5 other tips to boost your open rates.

  • Segment your list separately by social data
  • Craft templates that enable you to trigger personalized emails
  • Exclamation points don’t necessarily drive opens
  • Test and track the effectiveness of calls to action (CTAs)
  • Align your email and social language for consistent communication

61% of marketers rate their email campaigns as poor or average: infographic

Think you’re good at email marketing? Here’s an infographic to give you some insight on how you compare in the industry (or in UK at least).

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Looking for a digital messaging software with built-in functionality to segment lists for behavioral marketing? Read more about Momentum.

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

We hone in on the debate surrounding confirmation opt-ins this week: When are they necessary and what percentage of marketers are deploying it in practice? Also on the agenda, tips for successful email personalization and most commonly followed email marketing best practices.

When COI Makes Absolutely No Sense

Andrew Cordek from Trendline Interactive challenges permission purists by questioning whether confirmed opt-in is necessary in certain situations. One such situation is where a user registers to access site information through the following process:

  1. Creating a username and password (with CAPTCHA)
  2. Filling out a long form with information
  3. Managing opt-ins for other email publications through a preference center (with cadence/frequency info)
  4. Confirming choices on another page
  5. Receipt of a welcome email which had all of the email choices listed

In such a scenario, Cordek argues that a closed loop email for subscribers to confirm their choices is unnecessary.

No, COI actually makes sense most of the time

And here’s the rebuttal by David Romerstein from LivingSocial. While Romerstein agrees that COI might not make sense in some scenarios, it certainly isn’t that one outlined by Cordek, for one reason: The detection of typos.

Confirmation emails help to eliminate typos, whether committed on purpose by a competitor trying to affect your reputation, or by accident. Minimizing typos helps in keeping one’s IP reputation clean.

Email Deliverability: Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list

In the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, the following question was put to marketers:

Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve email deliverability rates? Please select all that apply.

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The results showed that only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list. Providing an easy unsubscribe process was the tactic that was most widely deployed by marketers at 62%. Of concern was the fact that only 21%of marketers used email authentication like DKIM or SPF to improve email deliverability.

The ultimate email marketing mistake

Here are three tips to make email personalization work for your business:

  • Use a valid reply email: A noreply@ address means you are missing out on opportunities to hear from your customer
  • Make sure you have the data: Skip personalization altogether if you don’t have many member names in your database
  • Avoid generic placeholders: Segment your list and send recipients without a listed name emails without a personalized greeting

73% of businesses carry out basic email segmentation: report

The new econsultancy email marketing census provides some interesting data for email marketers.

Top three email marketing practices are basic email segmentation at 73%, encouraging the sharing of content at 52% and regular list cleaning at 49%.

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The most commonly used email trigger was automated response to website visit/sign-up emails at 35%.

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Abandoned basket automated email programmes provided the greatest return on investment according to 13% of companies surveyed.

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Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

This week’s email marketing series has a Valentine’s Day slant as marketers sift through emails to find out what’s trending in the season where love is in the air. They tell you what they’re in love with… or not.

From Bad First Date to Love: How ProFlowers’ Valentine’s Day Emails Won Me Over

Real life examples are often far more compelling than theoretical talk. Here’s the story of how ProFlowers first got personalization wrong… before they got it right. As they say, practice makes perfect! Here’s the version that got the thumbs up:

valentines-day-promo

Love May Be in the Air, But It’s Not in the Inbox

There’s a little less love in the inbox this year as compared to last. On Feb 5 2013, there were only 11% Valentine’s Day themed emails. Last year on the same day it was 14%. On Feb 9, where you’d expect retailers to be ramping up their activities, the percentage fell further from 13% last year to 6% this year.

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What’s increasing this year is the percentage of heart symbols used in email subject lines. On Feb 8, 8% of emails were using this tactic as compared to none last year.

Unsurprisingly, the words “free”, “shipping” and “save” were the three most used words in emails during the last few weeks.

UK DMers Advance New Engagement Metric

Will the open/reach metric be the next big thing in email marketing?

If a group of UK DMA (Direct Marketing Association) members have their way, that metric could become the reality for many emarketers.

The open/reach metric is defined as the number of people who have opened a marketer’s email at least once over a given period of time, from a quarter to a year, depending on the frequency of mailings.

Engagement is currently measured by open, clicks and conversions. The need to drive these metrics have led to marketers trimming their lists when it comes to ‘inactive’ subscribers – perhaps needlessly some claim. While this group of subscribers does not click frequently on mailings, they may well respond sporadically.

Do you remember us?

Our client, Dennis Dayman from Eloqua shares his experience with what he first thought was spam mail. It turned out to be a welcome email practicing one of the tenets of email marketing best practices – The Unsubscribe Option.

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Drive Frequency. Drive Subscribers. Drive Marketing

“Anyone without an email address is the digital equivalent of a homeless person.” – Dela Quist, Founder & CEO, Alchemy Worx

Quist’s advice to the audience at the Email Evolution Conference was to organically grow email databases and amplify email frequency. Increasing the frequency of email is something that lies in the grey area as emarketers often fear being labelled a spammer.

Quist urges emarketers to give consumers a chance to get around to opening emails. How so? By giving them more opportunities to open emails with more emails. According to Quist, email frequency can drive engagement between a brand and customers. It also links email to other channels. However, it’s a good idea to understand consumer behavior on those channels before embarking on a cross-channel strategy to optimize the impact of the email.

And there you have it, The Valentine’s Day edition!

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

One of the biggest tech news this week has to be the phenomenal rise of Netflix’s stock price to more than 40% since Wednesday. Some have called it the triumph of legacy media over new media – Netflix’s international subscribers grew by 229% last year and the company gained 2 million domestic subscribers. Just as reports of the demise of big entertainment are greatly exaggerated, so too are those that predict the end of email. In the world today, it’s no longer about marketing in winning silos, but integration and convergence.

And it’s also about listening to your customers.

Email Marketing: Why don’t you want to hear from your customers?

Note: This email was automatically generated from a mailbox that is not monitored.

Looks familiar? We’ve probably all seen this at some point in our inbox. Most likely, it’s a transactional email that companies send with your personal information included to remind you of a flight you booked or money you withdrew. In some sense it’s a highly personal email. On the other hand, it’s become incredibly impersonal for something that contains such delicate personal information.

Having a no-reply email means a missed opportunity for marketers to connect with customers that want to reach them. It’s like telling them to talk to the hand. Do that, and you could be losing some serious upsell opportunity.

Email-Social Integration: Past, Present and Future

We’ve seen a great example from Bonobos on how the company is using an innovative tactic to integrate email and social. Here are 5 other things a business can do:

1. Sharing email content into social streams.
2. Email acquisition via social channels.
3. Socializing email content.
4. Using social sign-in for account registration/opt-in.
5. Social CRM.

Personalization key for email in 2013

Personalization was big news in 2012, and it continues to be big news in 2013. You know what else is key? Email and mobile integration. Julia Rieger, Director of Marketing, LiveIntent says:

“Along with the rise of ‘Smartphones’ has come a resurgence of email as the primary tool for information exchange.  The first thing that most people set up on a new Smartphone is going to be their email accounts.

As the email address continues to gain in importance as the unique identifier necessary for joining and using services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, former detractors will come to realize that email isn’t something to fix, it’s something to leverage to create greater engagement.

Beyond its messaging applications, email addresses retain their position as unique identifiers and database primary keys and as such key ingredients for ‘big data’ and CRM.”

We agree and we’d go one step further to declare that a marketer who is going to be a runaway success is one that integrates email, mobile and social into one seamless messaging stream.

Key Email Engagement Tactics: Benchmarks and Trends

A study has found that 50% of marketers are planning to optimize email campaigns for the mobile experience. Their plans include developing a rich-text mobile version (36%), promoting mobile apps (21%), and optimizing email dimensions (18%). Other findings:

• 71.5% of marketers are inviting subscribers to fill in surveys through email. 25% of these surveys are opt-out surveys, where marketers try to glean some info on why these customers are unsubscribing.
• More than 52% of marketers have used gifs in their campaign and the report states that gifs are a good way to attract attention.
• 21% of marketers use symbols in subject lines – a study has found that it could increase open rate by more than 15%.
• When it comes to social integration, Facebook (98%) is the number one platform, followed by Twitter (91%) and YouTube (45%).

Industry slow to adopt DMARC email standards

For those of you not in the know, DMARC was created by a group of companies, including our partner, Return Path, to set certain standards to reduce online security threats such as phishing. As our Chief Revenue Officer, Ralph Lentz notes:

“If you’re a bank, retailer, publisher or any kind of brand, do you want your email to be the only message in your customer’s inbox not flagged as DMARC-secure?”

While the speed of adoption by the industry may be in a grey area, adoption by the email community has been rapid. As of now, it is an email marketing best practice, but in a few months, it might not even be a choice for marketers, as all the leading gatekeepers such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are already on board.

Is your company’s email DMARC secure? Are you effectively integrating social, mobile and email? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section! Or you could find out more about DMARC when you download the How DMARC Is Saving Email eBook!

How DMARC Is Saving Email

 

Email marketing is without doubt, one of the most important channels for lead nurturing as evinced by a number of studies and research reports in recent times. It has also been argued that it serves as an important channel for lead acquisition although the jury is still out on that point. When it comes to continued business development, or maximizing customer lifetime value, email marketing appears to be the foremost channel that is tapped. It is essential for every business looking to service their customer base as well.

So what governs the final decision when it comes to a choice of email marketing technology?

In our first post on unlocking the potential of email marketing, we focused on the three email marketing metrics that one should measure, set certain targets for and try to achieve with their email marketing technology. To sum up, these were:

  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Contribution to Corporate Revenue
  • Deliverability and Average Monthly Revenue

For the second part in this series, we’re going to look at the reasons why email marketers choose in-house email solutions or on-premise email marketing technology over outsourced email marketing technology as highlighted in The Relevancy Group’s survey of 400 email marketing professionals.

Reason #1 & #2: Cost & Effectiveness

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Email marketers are generally concerned with cost (45%) and email deliverability (37%).  That’s understandable. Everyone wants to get the best value out of their selected solutions for a reasonable price. This is not something that applies specifically to email technology but to almost every purchase decision that is being made (luxury items being excluded from the conversation). These considerations tie in nicely with the top three benefits marketers cite when using on-premise or in-house email solutions.

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55% of marketers found that they could deploy campaigns more rapidly, 41% experienced an increase in targeting and relevance and 36% had a lower cost of ownership.

Upon reaching a certain organizational size, using outsourced solutions can simply become too expensive for many organizations – that’s probably the case in most industries, simply because that is the business model on which most outsourced services are based. For smaller organizations, outsourced solutions are cheaper and easy to adopt – it works for a small database of customers and a fledgling email marketing campaign. However, outsourced solutions may simply become too expensive once an organization scales and starts looking into sending a few million email messages a day. When that happens, these businesses are looking at a whole new tier when it comes to payment – and ultimately, a bigger bill.  This is the time when businesses that turn to an in-house email solution begin to see economies of scale on an investment in an on-premise email technology.

Reason #3: Control

Aside from effectiveness and cost, marketers are turning to in-house email solutions due to the increased ability to maintain control over production and integration with other applications and platforms, as well as security.

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While a small percentage, it is interesting to note that 7% of businesses are opting for on-premise solutions out of compliance with government regulations. Security has often been cited as a reason why businesses choose to use on-premise solutions. Having data stored in a business’ email servers rather than in the cloud increases control and protection of that data. The European Union’s Data Protection Directive mandates that personal data can only be transferred across borders if the third party country is able to adequately protect such data. With many outsourced providers operating through cloud services, geographical location and ownership of data becomes a grey area for many companies seeking compliance with government regulation. In this scenario, using an on-premise or in-house email solution is thus equivalent with adhering to industry best practices in terms of data protection.

Do you agree with the survey findings? What are some of the other reasons why marketers might turn to in-house email solutions?

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

It’s that time of the week where we bring you stuff to ponder for the weekend!

Is Cyber Monday the worst day for a sale? 

A pertinent question in the season for shopping. And the answer lies with the nature of your business. With Cyber Monday following closely on the heels of Black Friday, customers are inundated with direct marketing messages like email. Retail luxury goods promotions may work, but not so for magazine subscriptions and the like. Running a campaign during this time period might be akin to shouting in a void. Sleigh bells and cash registers may be ringing for the retail sector, but if you’re not in that business, it’s possible no one is listening to you.

Congress May Require Police to Get a Warrant for Your Emails

The times they are a-changing. And the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is now up for review – a bill that has been left untouched since 1986. Currently, the police only require a warrant for emails less than 6 months old. It’s the efficiency of law enforcement versus the citizen’s right to online privacy – whose side are you on?

Biggest spammers? Marketers.

Sobering news. Our partner Return Path’s Q3 Email Intelligence Report found that 70% of all spam complaints can be traced to marketers. Rather than unsubscribe from emails that people once opted-in to receive, people are simply categorizing them as spam and ISPs are taking action – deliverability rates have dropped to 82% in the United States. Despite these findings, email still retains its effectiveness – a study by the Direct Marketing Association found that email still had the highest ROI of $40.56 for every dollar spent. Search, which came in second place, only netted $22.24.

Email Personalization: 137% increase in open rate from personal note approach

The title speaks entirely for itself. By including the name of the recipient, the name & email of the sender and removing design elements so an invitation to attend a webinar looked like a letter rather than an email, MarketingSherpa was able to achieve a whooping 137.4% higher open rate and 128.9% higher clickthrough than with a non-personalised version. That speaks volumes in how businesses should go about email marketing campaigns.

Did You Know 144.8 Billion Emails Are Sent Every Day?

Everyone loves a good infographic. This may not be yesterday’s news but it’s still interesting to know that “in the time it took you to read this sentence, 20 million emails were written”. Again, who doesn’t love a good infographic?

Email Today Infographic