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Why Email Still Delivers for Retailers

September 16, 2015

Netta Kivilis
Head of Marketing

While email is seen as a traditional form of marketing, it’s still an effective way for retailers to reach consumers. Netta Kivilis, head of marketing at Custora, spoke with eMarketer’s Rimma Kats about email marketing trends, the role that mobile plays and whether personalization is ever going to happen.

eMarketer: What changes or trends in email marketing have you noticed over the past year?

Netta Kivilis: For almost all retailers, the fundamental elements of an ecommerce email marketing program are already in place. Everyone is doing automated triggers like cart abandonment or win-back campaigns and so on.

Retailers that stand out from the competition are doing things differently beyond the basics. They’re focusing on metrics and KPIs [key performance indicators] that are beyond just the traditional KPIs. It’s not just about open rates, clickthrough rates, unsubscribes or even about revenue generated from a single campaign.

“Right now mobile is almost 30% of all ecommerce transactions.”

Instead, these retailers are measuring the long-term impact of every single campaign and also the email program overall by looking at metrics like customer lifetime value and how each individual campaign affects lifetime value.

eMarketer: Given that mobile email open rates are increasing, what role does the medium play for marketers?

Kivilis: Right now mobile is almost 30% of all ecommerce transactions. Mobile is obviously more important than ever to get right in the context of email marketing. Beyond just optimizing emails with responsive design or mobile optimization, we see retailers including deep links to their ads, their mobile ads and in their email messages.

Most retailers don’t necessarily create different email marketing to mobile shoppers. It’s just part of their overall mobile strategy of making sure that their website is optimized, and no matter which device you use and which marketing channel brought you to the site, they’re making sure that the customer experience is always optimized.

“The way marketers are bringing innovation into email marketing, at least this year, is by getting more segmented and personalized.”

eMarketer: There’s talk of video being incorporated in emails to drive engagement. How prevalent is that tactic?

Kivilis: Not prevalent yet. The way marketers are bringing innovation into email marketing, at least this year, is by getting more segmented and personalized. They’re improving their emails with things like different customer segments and sending the right email message to the right customer at the right time.

eMarketer: Personalization is something customers have been wanting for years, but they’re wary of sharing any personal details. How can marketers work around that?

Kivilis: Personalization is being talked about like this holy grail and long-term goal of email and other channels as well, and we believe the individual personalization might be taking it a bit too far both from the consumer and retailer standpoint. It takes a lot of time, resources and effort to personalize an email program. It’s much faster and easier to implement segmentation if you have the right tools. Customer segmentation [instead of] personalization might be more beneficial for retailers as well as feel less invasive for consumers.

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