Email Marketers Move to Cross-Channel, Real-Time Communication
Email strategies must include a more cross-channel attitude toward customer interactions
The enduring quest to be as pertinent and timely as possible is one of the top trends affecting email marketing. 2015 will be an important year for brands looking to shift toward a next-generation approach to real-time email marketing, which most will find involves more than just email, according to a new eMarketer report, “Email Marketing Benchmarks 2015: Are Performance Metrics Revealing Signs of Consumer Fatigue?”
The need for relevancy has never been stronger; today’s consumers expect a seamless digital experience across the board. “If consumers are going to engage with a brand, they expect that brand to know the best way to reach them and communicate with them,” said Spencer Kollas, vice president of global deliverability services at Experian Marketing Services. “They don’t care that your email marketing group isn’t going to get credit if you click on something through an SMS. They see you as one brand. For a long time, email marketing was just the old-fashioned [email] blast, whereas now it’s more about being able to identify and engage people by using intelligence to know when to interact with them and what channel best fits that person. That’s where it’s all going.”
Departmental siloes and even divisions of labor between brands, agencies and other third parties make it extremely difficult for any one group to have access to all the necessary customer and channel-specific data. Though all companies interviewed for eMarketer’s report noted they were seeing improved interdepartmental relations among their clients, most acknowledged that many were only just beginning to achieve the necessary data-sharing requirements, largely thanks to improvements to the technologies and systems used.
One example Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop, shared as a sign of improvement was the evolution of messaging consumers after cart abandonment. Whereas before, latencies in data relay between systems often meant retailers were limited in their ability to send a follow-up email reminder in a timely manner, today, with systems better integrated, many companies can act on those findings in a matter of minutes, using multiple channels.
It’s this real-time data—and the ability to centralize it across channels and act on it—that’s driving these capabilities forward. As such, it’s hardly surprising that the ability to utilize real-time data and centralize one’s customer database to make it actionable were among the top five 2015 email marketing priorities for US marketers polled by The Relevancy Group in December 2014.
While syncing data between behaviors gleaned from digital channels and customer databases is important, these are not the only two data sources on the minds of email marketers. Increasingly, many also look to pull in offline purchase data, whether via in-store collection at the point of sale or from third-party sources. Not only does such data provide a more end-to-end picture of customers and their relationship with a company, it also provides valuable intelligence that can be fed back into this cross-channel strategy—even as a means to find those who are “best customers” from an in-store revenue standpoint but who are largely unresponsive to email. Once such customers are found using this or other customer-rich data, the goal is to identify more relevant methods of continuing a dialogue.
eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.