The consumer landscape is shifting and consumers are changing the way they interact with their favorite brands both digitally and in physical stores. The research on the topic can seem overwhelming.
Handheld, fingertip access to an enormous amount of digital information is nearly ubiquitous today, and we are fast approaching a time when disconnecting from online information will be nearly unheard of.
Email remains a primary mode of personal interaction and a clear benefit to brands working to engage their customers. And mobile technology is making email actionable in a newly physical way. A full 52 percent of people identify their smartphone as their go-to device for checking email, according to Acxiom.
Beyond that, 65 percent of all emails are first opened on a mobile device, but only a small percentage of those actually convert through a mobile email. Those users convert to customers when they open the email a second time, or they are influenced by the messenger in another way. A different way.
The historical perspective
Historically, email success has been measured in terms of driving traffic, CTR and engagement with the ultimate goal of converting a reader into a customer; ideally, a loyal customer. But what we’re finding over time is that small action taken by a customer within the window of their inbox is only one aspect of influence a brand has when communicating with their customers by email.
Mobile devices allow consumers to easily carry their communications with them. More and more retail brands, for example, are utilizing their lists to leverage the combined influence of mobile and email. They send live coupons and offers that can be redeemed directly through a smartphone at checkout. In this case, the golden goose is no longer CTR, but an actual purchase in a physical location.
With more than 90 percent of consumers saying they use a mobile device while shopping, according to SessionM, the thought in the customer’s mind is either, “I have this offer, let me go use it,” or while strolling through a store, they remember “Oh, I have an email about that!” Then they reach for their smartphone, find the email and realize the value in a purchase. The influence of email has expanded beyond the virtual to physical action.
Examining a few statistics on shopping behavior helps bring the picture into sharper focus. The following numbers are all according to recent research into retail behavior by Deloitte.
- 94% of retail purchases are still completed in-person, in-store
- 49% of all in-store purchases are influenced by digital
- 76% of consumers interact with a brand before entering a store; while
- 30% of consumers are influenced by traditional brand advertising
Thanks to digital communications and access to digital information, brands have less control than ever over what their customers see and how they see it. Ironically, if they approach it in the right way, there is an opportunity to exert more influence using their own digital programs — particularly email.
More than 91 percent of people use their smartphone for personal email compared to just 42 percent for business email, according to Acxiom.
The inherent relationship-based nature of email leverages a feeling of customer loyalty that is not seen in other media. Customers choose to receive email from you. They can opt-out at any time. When you’re delivering information they see as relevant and valuable, their levels of trust and loyalty go up. That’s influence. That’s something they remember when it’s time to make a purchase decision.
The two highest-ranking message types as far as influence are both email related, according to Axiom (scored on a scale of 7):
- “Emails that have discounts” scored 4.9
- “Emails that have content about a product or service I am interested in” scored 4.4
New digital technologies and disruptive approaches to brand communication are enabling consumers to pursue their needs in new and more direct ways than ever before. They have access to more information — unfiltered information — about products, services and brands that allows them to do more hunting when they shop and spend less time gathering. When you give them something they find useful, even if it doesn’t drive them to make a purchase at that precise moment, they value it.
Quite simply, the numbers tell a compelling tale about how customers interact and understand brands digitally, particularly through their email relationship.
What does all of this mean?
The emails you send have a longer reach than just the inbox. The calls to action you choose direct consumers not just to “Learn more”, “Buy now” or “Get started”, but — as often as any of those — they drive your audience to a physical action. For instance, to go to the store and make a purchase in person. This is a phenomenon on which marketers need to focus as their digital relationship with their customers deepens over time.