Monday Catch-up: Integrated Email Campaigns, Lifecycle Marketing and Looking to 2017

Happy New Year, email marketers! Ready to get back to work after a (hopefully) relaxing break? Here’s a little email marketing news to start your 2017 off right.

Email marketing seen as key component of integrated campaigns

Samantha Ferguson makes her main point very clear: “Every integrated campaign should include email marketing,” she writes at Business 2 Community. Why? It starts with email marketing’s phenomenal ROI.

“For the most part, the email inbox is still sacred space,” Ferguson writes. “And because it’s not limited in exposure by algorithms on social media platforms, it’s staying power makes it extremely valuable. As a result, email marketing is known for delivering impressive ROI.” She cites McKinsey research showing that the average order value of an email is at least three times higher than at of social media and that email delivers 21.5 percent higher ROI than direct mail.

Personalization is also a critical reason that email should be part of integrated campaigns, according to Ferguson.

“Beyond email’s ability to deliver value, it also offers marketers a chance to tie in personalization to their integrated campaigns,” she writes. “And today, personalization is extremely important when it comes to crafting highly effective integrated campaigns. Why? Because it works. Personalized emails generate 58 percent of all revenue according to the DMA, and 74 percent of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.”

Email’s power to keep customers coming back is another critical factor, she says.

“Retaining current customers is far less expensive than acquiring new ones – so when creating integrated campaigns, it makes sense to tie in emails specifically aimed at customer retention. Incorporating customer retention emails into integrated campaigns is a simple way to proactively address customer churn while driving sales at the same time,” Ferguson writes. Emails targeting retention can take the form of subscription-renewal offers, rewards for loyal customers, re-engagement campaigns and surveys, she suggests.

Her bottom line: “Integrated campaigns become much stronger when email marketing is part of the equation, thanks to its ability to drive ROI and customer retention, to integrate customer data for smart personalization, and the resources that make shopping only a click away,” Ferguson concludes.

A five-step approach for success in early lifecycle marketing

In a Marketing Land column, Jordan Elkind outlines a five-step approach that email marketers can use to engage subscribers who have opted-in to hear from you, perhaps by subscribing to your newsletter, but have yet to make a purchase. The goal of what he refers to as this “early lifecycle marketing” initiative is to “build awareness and promote discovery to ultimately drive them to make a first purchase.”

It begins with your welcome messages, which Elkind describes as a “basic series of emails to send out over a fixed period of time” that is designed to “maintain the top-of-mind status your brand currently has with the customer.”

The second step is educating your potential customers (who he refers to as “members”). These messages should “introduce the new member to your store — specifically, its benefits and unique features to promote repeat site visits, and ultimately, conversion and first purchase.”

The next step is to focus your messages on what you already know about potential customers. You can learn about them by examining what products, categories and content they look at on your site, he suggests. And you can “infer their preferences based on past members who look like your newly acquired ones,” he writes. “For example, members you acquired through a high-end accessories blog may tend to convert almost exclusively on your accessories, while a member acquired through a lifestyle blog might be more interested in your natural cosmetics line.”

The fourth step is segmenting subscribers based on differences. “It’s key to understand the differences between audiences based on a variety of variables such as acquisition source, age, gender and geography,” Elkind writes. “Perhaps members acquired through one affiliate prefer dollar discounts, while those from another prefer percent discounts. Identifying differences in response rates by segment can help you figure out the best way to continue to talk to different groups of shoppers in the future.”

And the final step is in this approach to early lifecycle marketing is to start experimenting with promotions. “You’ll want to start small and work your way up,” Elkind advises. “For example, you may want to test a 5 percent discount for members who haven’t converted by the 30-day mark, a 10 percent rebate for members who haven’t converted by the 60-day mark, and 15 percent for those who haven’t converted after 90 days.”

While this process may seem “strenuous,” the payoff in increased conversions will be worth the effort, Elkind concludes.

Looking ahead to the new year in email marketing

Jenna Tiffany, writing at Business Zone, writes that 2016 was “a great year” for email marketing and sees a another successful year ahead for the channel, driven by trends that include a growing use of artificial intelligence, increased implementation of modular design and more use of video.

Tiffany predicts that “artificial intelligence and machine learning intelligence will drive email marketing strategies forward as brands become more sophisticated in their use of data.” And she foresees that growing use of marketing cloud technology “will make it easier for marketers to consolidate data all in one place, making data more accessible than ever before.” That data consolidation will allow brands to “move towards a more advanced stage of segmentation based on machine learning intelligence,” she says.

In addition, Tiffany anticipates 2017 will be a year during which more email marketers take advantage of modular design, which will mean “less time is spent on designing the email and more focus on defining the strategic purpose and objectives of a campaign.”

And she sees a growing role for the use of video in email. “Now, finally, videos are supported by Apple’s iOS10 (rejoice!) Email marketing content now has the ability to be more interactive. It can be more engaging and start to reflect what a website can display.”

With the above in mind, Tiffany advises marketers to keep the “basics” in mind as they kick off what will hopefully be another tremendous year. “The focus for 2017 needs to be optimizing from the ground up,” she advises. “Brands need to reduce their focus on the next shiny thing and evaluate whether the basics are still fit for purpose, such as welcome journeys, basket abandonment and transactional emails.”

Email marketing’s performances shines despite challenges from social media

“While the latest social media platforms, novelty features and other shiny new advertising trends hog the limelight, email gets the least notice, yet quietly remains the most reliable channel for a stable, profitable online presence,” writes Tony D’Anna at MarTech Advisor.

But even though companies “consistently cite email marketing as the most effective channel for reaching customers and driving revenue, while also acknowledging that other digital marketing channels are tricky to get right,” D’Anna wonders why the same companies “keep getting distracted by every passing fad” in digital marketing.

“Certainly, the idea of a social media windfall is attractive, but anyone who thinks it will last is looking at things through rose-colored video glasses,” he writes, citing examples of challenges marketers face in successfully leveraging platforms like Facebook and Snapchat.

D’Anna suggests that the growing dominance of mobile clearly differentiates email marketing from other approaches. “Far from the plain text walls of internet yesteryear, the emails of today are aesthetically pleasing, mobile-responsive and highly personalized. Thanks to mobile devices, people are spending more time with email than ever, providing companies with an ample window for directly reaching customers with a fine-tuned, customized message,” he writes.

Another factor that differentiates email from the latest social media innovation is consumers’ longstanding fondness for it, according to D’Anna. “Despite having to hear about it nonstop for an entire election cycle, people still really like email,” he writes. “No other internet innovation has been able to change the fact that more people prefer companies to contact them via email than any other method.

His concluding advice to marketers: “Don’t get caught up in the noise: exercise your right to choose the proven marketing tools. The future of your company depends on it.”