Internet Retailer: Are You Still Marketing Like it’s 1999?
Recently Listrak Chief Brand Strategist Ryan Hofmann shared with Internet Retailer why the email address is more valuable than ever.
While Listrak executive Ryan Hofmann is still using the same Hotmail account he created in 1999, he argues that a consumer’s email address is much more valuable today, serving as a unique identifier across many sales channels.
I have a confession to make: I still use the same email address I created for free on Hotmail in 1999. And while the reality is a lot has changed in 16 years, the one thing that has not is that email continues to deliver the highest ROI of all online marketing channels, and has therefore consistently been dubbed the workhorse of digital marketing tactics. In fact, the time-tested email marketing channel is anything but a ho-hum oldie-but-goodie, but rather the key to unlocking the true potential of omnichannel retail and cross-channel marketing as we head into future.
Across the retail industry, the average email open rate is somewhere around 20%, meaning more than 80% of recipients of any given email campaign are unresponsive. This represents a huge opportunity for digital marketers to reach their customers with the right message and in the right channel. As retailers attempt to transform their businesses, their needs have grown from tried-and-true promotional email campaigns and triggered messaging to more robust digital marketing automation that allows them to reach customers outside of the inbox with mobile alerts, social media integrations and relationship targeting display ads that engage them with orchestrated messages that are highly targeted, personalized and relevant.
While this complicated customer journey of email, mobile, social, display and web means that marketers have to do more to engage and reach their customers, the great news is that they most likely already have the key data point that enables the most effective omnichannel marketing: the email address.
Email marketing is the foundational, digital relationship marketing channel that retailers rely on to drive shopper engagement, conversion and loyalty, but we are beginning to see a faster adoption of other direct digital marketing channels like SMS, push, relationship retargeting via display and social, and tighter integrations with the store through behavioral listening technologies like beacons. The email address is and will continue to be the critical link that ties all of this customer data together and enables a seamless and continuous conversation as customers move from one interaction to the next.
The email address is now more valuable than ever, allowing marketers to be able to take what was once a singular channel strategy and extend their reach via the email address into these other digital direct channels to target and engage even more customers with the right message at the right time in the right channel to create a richer, more personalized shopping experience.
With this capability at their fingertips, marketers need to take command of all customer data and use it to send the next best communication to each customer based on his or her most recent transactions and behavioral interactions. Data coming from in-store, point-of-sale transactions, online transactions, loyalty programs, website and mobile app behavior, even calls to customer service, are all behaviors that can and should be used to make a decision in real time as to what to send to the customer next.
Today, marketing is all about creating personalized experiences, about creating relationships and engaging shoppers with messaging that easily guides them through their path to purchase. It is about building awareness with your target audience, acquiring and nurturing new customers, driving loyalty and repeat customers, and reactivating high value, inactive customers. Take the experiences and customer touch points that you have mapped out in your email marketing program and extend them to these additional digital direct channels of mobile, social, display, and web, and even into brick-and-mortar store, and see the returns that personalized marketing orchestration can deliver.
The deceivingly simple email address is the critical link that can make it all possible.