With a 4,400 percent ROI – that is $44 for every $1 spent – it’s no surprise that many retailers view email marketing as a central part of their marketing strategy. But how many retailers are actually getting it right, creating engaging, relevant campaigns that resonate with their customers?
To find the answers, we conducted a study that evaluated 100 top retailers, acquiring every email sent to subscribers who have never purchased a product from July to December 2017. We also bought from each retailer and collected every email sent – as first-time buyers – for the first 45 days after the purchase, from November to December 2017. The resulting report found that a majority of top retailers are failing to use their data to personalize emails to customers who make purchases, instead, sending them the same emails as non-purchasers.
While many retailers are using email marketing to build a loyal customer base, this new study proves that retailers are missing an opportunity to leverage valuable customer data to engage their email subscribers.
Here are three key areas that retailers need to focus on to make sure they’re winning a share of voice in consumers’ inboxes.
Every customer is unique. Each one has different purchasing behavior, interests and preferred methods of communication, and retailers need to make sure to factor this into their marketing strategies.In fact, according to a Segment report, 49 percent of customers bought items they didn’t intend to buy due to a personalized recommendation from the brand they were doing business with. More importantly, 44 percent of consumers say they’ll likely return after a personalized shopping experience.
When it comes to email, retailers need to make sure personalization is part of the equation. However, our study found that retailers are essentially treating their new customers the same way they treat email subscribers who have not made a purchase. Some retailers didn’t even send any emails other than the order confirmation and shipping notifications, such as Costco, Tory Burch, The Container Store and Menards.
Retailers need to make a conscious effort to serve individualized content to each customer or prospective customer based on their unique tastes and preferences to make their email marketing strategies as effective as possible.
There are always myths circulating about the optimal day or time to send customer emails – such as Tuesday afternoons when people are sitting in their offices, or maybe Sunday mornings when they’re having their morning coffee and catching up on email. The truth is, there’s no right number in terms of frequency and timing of email sends.
While there’s no hard-and-fast rule on the best email frequency, it’s vital that retailers find a cadence that’s in close proximity to other retailers. Brands that send a lot more emails than their peers run the risk of annoying subscribers, while sending fewer may bury a brand among all the competition.
Our study shows that the majority of retailers surveyed are sending multiple emails a day. In fact, more than a third of the time they’re sending more than one email a day –bombarding their customers and increasing their chances of being deleted.
To successfully turn the non-purchasing subscriber into a purchaser, retailers need to optimize their email content, from matching the subject line to the main content and not relying too heavily on discounts to delivering a positive mobile experience.
Our study found that retailers are paying more attention to personalized subject lines, rather than resorting to basic subject lines like “New Arrivals” or “Just for You.” But, unfortunately, more than half of all emails still have subject lines that don’t match the content of the email.
The study also found that discount or promotional language was found in 39 percent of all emails, and 63 percent of emails are not being properly optimized for the channel seeing the biggest usage gains in digital commerce – mobile.
There are many different tactics to consider when it comes to optimization, and it is the deciding factor between a customer reading and engaging with an email versus hitting the delete button. Getting a customer to open an email is only half the battle, and retailers need to make sure the content is optimized to make sure it is going to capture a customer’s attention to make an initial or follow-up purchase.
Based on the research, a lot of retailers are missing the mark when it comes to creating email campaigns that are true customer-engagement engines. The good news is, any retailer optimizing its purchaser experience, email frequency and email content will be far ahead of its competitors. Retailers need to make sure to re-evaluate their email marketing strategies in today’s competitive landscape to capture the most consumer attention and retain a loyal customer base
For more information on the study, including the top five brands overall and in each category – Purchaser Experience, Email Frequency, Catalog Exposure and Email Content—the full report can be downloaded here.
Editor’s note: this article originally appeared in Luxury Daily.