“Shoppers are unique, so every email you send to them should be unique too.” – Komal Helyer, VP Marketing, Pure360
For retailers of all sizes, email marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool. But for independents with time-poor teams, constantly coming up with fresh, engaging and original content for these campaigns can be a real challenge. This is especially true in an age where cutting through the noise is becoming even more difficult.
New technology means that customers have more control over the messages they do and do not want to see. A lack of interaction online leads to the filtering out of messages – this is the case when Googling, when browsing social media and when receiving emails. For example, if a customer constantly ignores posts on Facebook and Instagram, or repeatedly fails to open emails from a retailer, this lack of interaction signals to algorithms that messages from this sender are spam and should be filtered out automatically. Once a message ends up in ‘junk’ – or out of favour on the news feed – it’s highly unlikely that a customer will ever see it. As such, retailers are needing to work far harder to stand out, encourage interaction and engage the end user.
Customers today want better experiences when dealing with brands. When shopping, whether that be online or in-store, the customer wants an easy, convenient and enjoyable experience. Sale rails, for example, are often seen as a complete nuisance to shoppers. One of the worst parts about shopping in the sale is having to trawl through copious amounts of clothes in the hope of finding something that 1) you like, and 2) is in the right size. The same is true when shopping online – convenience is key. People would rather not have to re-enter delivery addresses and bank details each time they reach the checkout. This is why many will willingly let retailers remember their details in return for a more personalised and convenient experience.
The same is true for online and email marketing campaigns. Every message that ends up in the inbox of the customer should deliver real value and should make the shopping experience more straightforward as a result. In order to stand out, these messages need to demonstrate that the retailer knows its customer, understands their needs and can therefore offer a highly relevant experience in return.
For independent retailers, leveraging customer insights from purchase history, real-time behaviour and purchase intent can lead to the creation of content that offers customers exactly the right recommendations and information they need for a straightforward journey. These messages can be tailored to individuals using highly unique messages and can involve information such as real-time pricing and availability, countdown timers to events and insights on other shopper’s habits to create a sense of urgency. The #trending feature used by Missguided, for example, is designed to make hesitant customers feel stylish and ‘on-trend’, and therefore more encouraged to purchase items before they run out of stock.
These techniques lead to the creation of content that is, ultimately, useful and engaging for the recipient. When a brand uses insights to become useful, it becomes convenient and convenience helps to build trust with the customer. A recipient is much more likely to notice and interact with content they perceive to be helpful and beneficial when shopping.
Once this content has been created, analytics are among the most useful resources available to retail marketing teams. Analytics allows for testing, learning and continually optimising content for the best results. Although it can be tempting to think that broadcasting messages to a segmented audience at a specific time is still the best way to get a message across, the reality is that every customer is different and the messages they receive from retailers should be different too.
Granular insights can reveal even deeper understandings about the behaviour of recipients and how they individually interact with messages. These can explore important factors such as where individual recipients click within an email; on which devices they tend to open it and where in the world these interactions are happening. The beauty of analytics means that retailers can see what’s working, what isn’t, and trial new ways of encouraging engagement.
Independent retailers have a huge opportunity to use customer insight creatively. One of the main reasons’ shoppers opt for independent retailers over larger ones is due to the preferential treatment they receive, which makes them feel valued. By taking a moment to ask the question; ‘What would I think?’ new avenues for creativity start to form, followed by a desire to push boundaries and standout against other messages invading the inbox. The power rests firmly in the hands of those with a creative appetite. Data doesn’t necessarily provide all the ideas, but it does provide an opportunity to validate, test and try them. From here, brands can embark on building an emotional dialogue, which resonates with customers and really offers stand out alongside the competition.
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