The retail industry has entered a phase of transformation.
It began slowly about a decade ago, with Linens & Things closing in 2008, Circuit City in 2009, Blockbuster in 2010, and Borders in 2011. Now, it seems like every other day we hear news of yet another retail store closing, or moving entirely online (like Linens & Things did).
Part of this change is due to the Amazon effect, or the idea that consumers can get anything they want, when they want it – no need to trek to a store’s physical location. According to eMarketer, more consumers are turning to Amazon to research products before they buy instead of Google. The times are a changin’ indeed.
Want to learn how Movable Ink helps leading retailers create amazing experiences? Download our ebook, Movable Ink for Retail.
But let’s look at the numbers: according to the Department of Commerce, only 8.9% of retail sales in the U.S. occur online. And according to Kiplinger’s forecast on retail sales and consumer spending, in-store sales are projected to grow 2.4% this year — the biggest growth period since 2014.
So despite what many have deemed a “retail apocalypse,” consumers will continue to spend both in-store and online. But the way that consumers are spending is changing, and retailers need to adapt to survive.
Movable Ink Co-founder and CEO Vivek Sharma said it best in his article, The Retail Bubble: How to Survive and Thrive with Digital Innovation.
“This is about more than square footage, financial missteps, or the ebb and flow of natural business cycles. This is simply another chapter in the never ending narrative of creative destruction leading to digital innovation.”
The retail landscape will continue to evolve, and it’s up to retailers to embrace digital strategies that create better customer experiences if they want thrive in this brave new world.
There are a lot ways retailers can elevate customer experiences both online and offline to meet their business goals. Here are three of the ways they can make that happen with email marketing, along with specific tactics for each.
Strengthen loyalty programs with personalized experiences
Email is essential for a successful loyalty program, but many brands aren’t taking advantage of it. Too often, email content is an afterthought. There are so many opportunities to surprise and delight your customers using a sophisticated campaign, especially for your loyal rewards members. Here are a few ways that marketers can strengthen their loyalty programs with email.
Display 1:1 real-time spend and rewards points for every customer
Complicated rules and difficulty redeeming points can often be the downfall of any loyalty program. So keeping it simple is important. According to a study by Colloquy, the number one reason consumers give for continuing to participate in a loyalty program is that it’s easy to understand (81%).
Help customers see the big picture with data visualization
The use of data visualization in marketing, like infographics, has skyrocketed over the past few years. And it makes perfect sense— graphics are more engaging and visual data is easier to digest. According the the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, the human brain can make sense of a visual in less than 1/10 of a second.
So incorporating data visualization into your loyalty program emails is a no-brainer. And it’s not as much work as you might think.
Add authenticity with user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is a fresh, relevant way to market your products and services. And while the concept might not be new, the ways that marketers are leveraging UGC totally are. Consumers are now content creators, uploading and sharing images of their favorite products and services as a testament to their brand loyalty. And the sheer volume of digital content has grown exponentially thanks to platforms like Instagram and YouTube that encourage social sharing.
You can add user-generated content to your loyalty emails by displaying a live social feed, like Twitter or Instagram, in the body of your email. It’s the best way to showcase real customers using your products, adding authenticity to your emails.
Drive revenue with personalized promotional emails
Personalized experiences make for better retail marketing experiences because they’re incredibly effective for getting your customer’s attention. It’s also a huge priority for most marketers. And yet only 40% of consumers report seeing any kind of personalization at all. Here are just a few ways that retail marketers can improve those experiences with relevant offers.
Use contextual elements like geo-targeting and weather personalization
Meeting your customer where they are at the exact moment they open your email makes your email content both relevant and helpful. This type of contextual marketing lets you promote offers based your customer’s location or weather conditions, no matter where they are when they open your email.
This is also a great opportunity to drive foot traffic to any brick and mortar store locations by providing a local map with the stores nearest to each customer, and providing relevant store hours too.
Leverage customer behavior like browsing history and cart activity
Each of your customers is different, each with unique preferences. If you serve them an email based on their past interactions with your website, they’re far more likely to convert. Behavioral marketing lets you leverage those interactions – whether its browsing history on your website or items left in their shopping – to create email content that speaks to each individual. You could even offer product recommendations based on recently browsed products.
Enhance the productivity of every campaign
Productivity is a major challenge for most retail marketers – lean teams, tight production schedules, and limited resources all factor into this. Here are a few ways retail marketers can take advantage of their existing content to create great, on-brand experiences in email.
Repurpose your content
Email marketing is ideal for repurposing your best content. If your company has a blog, pull your best blog content into your welcome email series to get it in front of your new customers fast. For retailers, this might be a blog post featuring best-selling or most popular products.
And don’t forget about images – take advantage of any product images you have on your website by pulling them into your promotional emails for a seamless, on-brand experience.
Time-targeting is a tactic for sending multiple offers with just one email send, thus saving retail marketers tons of time. It’s ideal for promoting a new offer every day, like many retailers do in their Black Friday emails. Time-targeting builds excitement, drives urgency, and gives your customers something to look forward to.
Want to find out how Movable Ink is helping leading retail brands accomplish all of this, and more? Download our ebook, Movable Ink for Retail.