Rethink the Value of a Customer’s Email Address

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Research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase with a company that offers personalized experiences. When interacting with retailers 64% of consumers prefer to receive those experiences via email. There is no question that knowledge of customers and potential customers delivers business success. Yet, the same research finds that only 27% of companies are getting personalization right.

Email is a valuable channel for building direct relationships with consumers to reach them with relevant experiences in the inbox and across channels. Marketers looking to drive personalization in ways that have a direct and long-term impact on their company’s bottom line should rethink the value of a customer’s email address.

Smart, empowered customers

Consumers are more aware of how their data is being used for marketing purposes and are exhibiting greater choice for when and how they engage with brands. Marketers are forced to think critically about every brand-to-consumer interaction and how they can deliver personalization in more contextual ways to create relevance for individual customers.

Personalization becomes incredibly difficult as consumers interact across brand properties (website, in-store, mobile app) and other online platforms. While consumers engage seamlessly across channels and devices there are gaps in the ecosystem that create fragmented experiences. This ecosystem also creates a lack of clarity for brands on where and how customers engage. Marketers are left trying to determine what works and how to reach individual customers.

In today’s advertising ecosystem, here’s how brands can rethink the value of a customer’s email address and leverage it as a linchpin for the entire customer experience:

Email’s personalization paradox

Email is a mature digital marketing channel that continues to be a workhorse for the modern marketer by driving incredible return – a 122% median ROI according to the Data and Marketing Association. It is also a channel that’s ripe for innovation. Building direct relationships with consumers has never been more important and email can be a much stronger tool in establishing a relationship with a consumer if treated like a conversation, building valuable first-party data to deepen the dialogue overtime, cultivating that relationship towards brand loyalty.

To start, marketers need to step away from sending episodic email often driven by the promotion of the day and a desire to reach short-term sales targets. Instead, marketers should move towards treating email as a personalized dialogue that fuses together data, technology and creative to deliver highly relevant experiences that start in the inbox.

Activating relevant experiences in the inbox

To reach consumers with the level of relevance they are seeking, creative has to be contextualized and personalized. Marketers need to focus on storytelling to generate intrigue and innovation to deliver the experience. This requires data about the recipient, from website analytics to purchase behaviors and demographic profiles, to inform the experience; dynamic content to create personalization at scale; and innovative technology to deliver and activate the experience at the right time.

For example, Coach wanted to cultivate more personal relationships with customers and understand the impact of deeper personalization in email.  By matching each customer profile to modeled attributes and data-driven insights, categories were identified for the selected audiences. Machine learning and decisioning informed content recommendations – including subject lines for individual subscribers. Personalization of inbox content resulted in performance lifts across the board, including a 9.5% lift in site visitors, 3.1% lift in revenue per recipient and a 3.7% lift in average order value across both online and offline conversion activity. Coach also learned more about their unique customer relationships and categories like Luxury, Professionals, Men and Home, consistently outperformed the control, indicating that when a specific driver can be identified, meaningful results can be realized.

Moving away from episodic email

If brands look at the customer relationship as a long-term one, measuring all of the signals customers give over time, rather than an episodic relationship driven by a marketing organization’s priorities there will be very different results that drive different behaviors. For automotive brands this might mean nurturing new car buyers who are no longer in market for a vehicle. For the NFL this means keeping fans engaged in the off-season.

NFL fan engagement typically declines after the Super Bowl. To help keep fans engaged, the NFL started in the inbox. Virtually every part of the NFL Season in Review email was dynamic and personalized with content relevant to their favorite team and past history engaging with the brand. The NFL reached fans who attended a game, played fantasy football or engaged in one other activity over the past year. The communication raised NFL Shop revenue by 15% while 6,000 fans indicated they wanted to know when their team’s season tickets went on sale, and 2,000 who indicated interest in attending the NFL Draft in Nashville. Not only did the NFL drive incremental sales but they gleaned valuable first-party data that can inform future communications.

It is important organizations don’t try to boil the ocean when it comes to personalization.

By getting personalization right in the inbox and unlocking the value of a customer’s email address, marketers can build on two of the most important pieces to delivering more meaningful experiences: 1) Deepening direct relationships with customers across online and offline channels and 2) leveraging valuable first-party data to develop conversations so every customer receives communications that are more relevant and, over time, moves them to engage with the brand in ways that impact an organization’s bottom line.

Oded Benyo

President, Email at Epsilon

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