Jenna Tiffany, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist at Communicator, explains why email marketers need to adopt a more customer-centric approach
“The key challenge we face when working with marketers is often mind-set,” says Jenna Tiffany, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist at Communicator.
“The vast majority of marketers focusing on digital have backgrounds in direct mail, meaning the batch-and-blast approach is carried over and applied to email. That approach is detrimental to a brand. In order to drive revenue from email campaigns, the customer needs to be at the centre of an email marketing strategy.”
While social media may get the press, the good old inbox is still the principle destination online and according to Communicator’s latest benchmark report 60 per cent of all emails the company sends are now opened on mobile devices. It’s the ultimate outbound marketing channel, which means it’s a highly competitive sector. Email needs to be data-driven, targeted, relevant and personalised if it’s to cut through the clutter and connect with consumers.
“Changing marketers’ attitudes is a challenge,”says Tiffany. “But in order to drive the success of email and ultimately ROI, it’s crucial that they embrace a customer-centric strategy.”
Communicator is a strategic email service partner focused on helping ambitious brands optimise their performance across multiple channels. “Email,” says Tiffany, “is at the heart of what we do.”
From an initial team of three at launch, the company’s grown to over 70. In 2012 it was acquired by Trinity Mirror. The partnership provides Communicator with the heft of the UK’s largest newspaper network while leaving it nimble enough to give clients focused care and attention.
“We help our customers to outperform and stay one step ahead of the competition. We’re experts in the retail, travel and leisure, NFP and publishing sectors and are committed to helping ambitious brands optimise their digital marketing performance. Our technology helps our customers to achieve higher inbox placement rates. Last year over 91 per cent of our emails were placed in the inbox, as opposed to 79 per cent across the industry. Performance, people and partnerships are our pillars of success.”
SAFC were Communicator’s first customers back in 2003 and they’re still working together today, as are The Co-operative Group, Matalan, Moss Bros, Jacques Vert, Mitchells & Butlers, Parkdean, WWF, Anthony Nolan, British Library and Trinity Mirror.
“Cross-channel, we offer trackable SMS messaging, web data capture and social sharing integration,” says Tiffany. “We‘re more than just software and automation technology. With our supporting services we’re dedicated to helping our customers excel in digital marketing.”
Real, relevant relationships
Measurable and permission-based though email marketing is, underpinning it is a paradox that applies to all digital communication designed to operate at scale: with mailing lists extending into the hundreds of thousands, how can brands establish relationships with individual customers, each of whom has a unique set of needs and interests?
“First, it’s important to reiterate why establishing a relationship with each individual customer is crucial,” says Tiffany. “Recent stats from Econsultancy state that 44 per cent of UK consumers say they’ll ignore all future communications from a company that doesn’t target them effectively. Fifteen per cent will stop buying products from the company altogether if they receive irrelevant communications. In today’s digital climate, personalisation is an expectation and if you fail to build a relationship with each and every recipient on your mailing list you’re damaging not only your reputation but your revenue potential. Customer-centricity is key and understanding where each individual is on their customer journey with your brand will help you to stand out in a crowded inbox. If you hold customer data, use this to fuel the content of your emails. If not, we have the tools available to ensure your content is contextual and relevant at the time of each email open, even without the data. It needn’t be rocket science and you’ll reap the benefits; each recipient you’re targeting individually will open your emails, trusting that the content will be relevant and of interest to them.”
For Tiffany, that approach is exemplified in Communicator’s work with Moss Bros, who’ve undertaken a major transition to digital.
“A re-engagement campaign helped to increase open rates by seven per cent and click rates by six per cent, growing the number of active subscribers on their database. Following this campaign, an incentivised welcome campaign was implemented to collect preference data. Fifty per cent of recipients responded. A similar incentivised birthday campaign worked to increase this figure to 70 per cent, resulting in revenue per individual sign-up increasing by 66 per cent.”
“Further to these campaigns, effective segmentation has enabled Moss Bros to target key segments with personalised content, resulting in 25 per cent year on year growth in customer retention rates. Introducing sales recovery emails earned the brand open-rates of up to 45 per cent and click-through rates of 22 per cent, with these emails now generating five per cent of the brand’s weekly revenue.”
Building on that foundation, says Tiffany, Moss Bros now aim to connect the dots between data collected at various points in the customer journey to create a single customer view.
“Moss Bros are excelling at their email marketing because they’re adopting a customer-centric strategy – something which is key for future email success.”
So what distinguishes Communicator from other agencies operating in the crowded email arena? Tiffany says it’s a combination of people, performance and partnerships.
“There are so many email service providers out there but we’re more than just a technology provider; we’re an email service partner. We provide high quality counsel and expertise so our customers trust us to help them optimise not only their email marketing but their overall digital strategy. In addition, we consistently achieve a higher than average inbox placement so our clients trust us to help them outperform the competition.
”The lesson for marketers is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What are their objectives and challenges and how can you help them? Providing recommendations that aren’t tailored to a customer won’t work.
“Although our foundations are as a technology provider, there are real people behind the tech, and real expertise. Communicator provides an environment that ensures no two days are the same. We have the opportunity to work across teams, utilising our extensive knowledge base and have fun doing it.”