Jenna Tiffany, Digital Marketing Strategist at Communicator, explains why context plays an essential role in your email marketing strategy
Context is the future of email and, yes, email does have a future! But unlike the dream of having robots make our dinner, this could be a reality today. I’m sure every marketer dreams of being able to provide a relevant customer experience, all focusing on the golden nugget: the single customer view. Yet in reality only five per cent of companies are personalising their emails extensively, according Econsultancy.
Not so long ago you’d have gone to your local store and the shop owner would have known your name. Technology wasn’t part of everyday life back then. Now there’s social media and messaging platforms. Technology has changed how we communicate. We can have multiple conversations at the same time, on multiple social platforms, without even leaving our beds.
That’s not all. More than 50 per cent of all email opens are on a mobile phone. The smartphone has changed the consumer’s path to buying and changed their expectations of real-time, relevant messages. This has a bearing on how a brand’s message is perceived, and that’s if it’s even received at all.
The consequence is message overload, even notification overload with the increase in apps. This has created an audience with an increasingly limited attention span. Technology has also impacted our ability to concentrate, with research from .rising showing that 86 per cent of consumers are multi-screening when watching TV. So they’re not only sitting there watching one screen, they’re also surfing the web on their tablet or mobile device. Forty-seven per cent of millennials have highly selective attention and are unable to focus on just one thing—a direct result of multi-screening.
The result is that there’s a lot of noise, a lot of messages and a lot of brands all wanting our attention and the attention of your customers. So how do you cut through all of this noise in the inbox?
Nick Besbeas, the previous LinkedIn VP of Marketing stated, “Today to cut through the noise it’s important to be present, be relevant and add value. One place to start is to question if the email you send every Monday, adds any value to your recipients? If the answer is no, then why send it?”
To provide a real-time personalised experience you need to use real-time contextual data.
Contextual marketing technology will push you to think more strategically about customer journeys and experiences. With the right technology, email can become a contextual marketing engine that unites all digital channels and offers relevant messages across all devices.
By adopting a contextual strategy, you’ll also need to think differently about how your content is created and how it’s aggregated. Potentially, in the future, content could be streamed from your digital TV into your email campaigns.
To help you incorporate context into your email marketing strategy, I have three key steps for you to follow.
First of all, it’s all about the customer with customer-centricity. Place them at the heart.
You cannot be relevant if you don’t know the customer’s journey and the stage that they are at. Make sure to focus on this.
Data. Don’t let it frighten you. Use it where possible but it isn’t the be all and end all, with technology readily available to enable real-time content in your email campaigns.
Content can be personalised based on: location; device; time; weather; gender; age; address; favourite stores, brands and products; websites visited; emails opened; and links clicked. The possibilities really are endless!
Our client, The Co-operative Electrical, used context as part of their Black Friday campaign to create a personalised re-email campaign where urgency was the key driver for action.
The first email was a sneak peak email, sent to members to drive anticipation for the offer that was to be released two days later. The content was personalised to the member, with their name and offer code along with the count-down timer—utilising real-time optimisation that updated automatically every time the email was opened. The first email drove so much anticipation that there were regular questions on Twitter about when customers could expect to receive their offer code.
This campaign was actually one of the top performing email campaigns ever for The Co-operative Electrical. Unique opens across the two emails were 42 per cent, which is just shy of double our industry benchmark. The clicks-to-open were also higher than the benchmark at 17 per cent. The key element here (considering how many emails were sent during Black Friday 2014) was that there was a very low unsubscribe rate, demonstrating that if the content is relevant and of interest to your subscribers, you will retain engagement.