Internet Retailer: Email 'batch and blast' is a thing of the past

In the July issue of Internet Retailer, Associate Director of Research Stefany Zaroban writes about how Listrak demonstrated how to connect in-store data with email at our booth at IRCE: 

Marketers have to be far more nuanced in their use of email marketing, IRCE attendees said.

When it comes to email marketing, the practice of sending the same message to all customers—known as “batch and blast”—has fallen out of favor. Given that inboxes are increasingly crowded with marketing messages, e-retailers have to become more creative if they are going to get customers to open their emails, let alone click through and buy something.
At least that was the message delivered by many e-retailers and email marketing firms roaming the exhibit hall at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this year.
The most effective strategy, they say, factors in a customer’s purchase history, browsing behavior or social cues to email messages, which makes the communication far more relevant and more likely to entice consumers to buy, and buy again.
This trend toward connecting customer data with email can even tie into a retailer’s mobile apps or physical stores, as was demonstrated by email marketing firm Listrak in the exhibit ball. The Listrak booth featured a store mock-up for its client Giggle, which sells high-end baby gear in stores and online. Each store department in the booth, such as toys or baby gear, and products displayed throughout contained iBeacons tied into an iPhone app that Listrak built for IRCE.
Visitors could open the app and walk through the store as if they were shopping. When a shopper reached the toy department, the app would show her the online toy category page where she could click on products to order or learn more. If she stopped at the Sophie la Girafe baby toy, for example, the iBeacon would sense her location and show her more information about the toy, including customer reviews and consumer-generated images of other customers playing with the toy pulled from social networks with help from crowdsourcing technology company Olapic Inc.
Upon leaving the store, the shopper received an email thanking her for stopping by. It also showed her the Sophie toy, and other toys she might be interested in.
“These types of messages can create a real emotional connection with the customer, and make shopping a much richer experience when we can take into account all of these touch points,” says Shawna Hausman, Giggle’s vice president of e-commerce and digital marketing.
Other merchants at IRCE said they are using behavioral analytics technology to figure out which customers to email more often than others. For example, high-end shoemaker and online retailer Donald J Pliner uses the Propensity to Buy tool from behavioral analytics firm AgilOne. This scores Donald J Pliner’s customers from one to 10 in terms of how likely they are to buy at any given time. The tool factors in signals such as the length of time since the customer last visited the e-commerce site or how often she has made a purchase in the last six months.
When the merchant emails the people rated with the highest propensity to buy, the emails perform five times better than those sent to other segments that AgilOne determined were less likely to buy. “It’s clear now that these are our active shoppers, and at any given point in time, these are the people that are likely to buy something,” says Julian Chu, operating partner at Castanea Partners, which owns a majority stake in Donald J Pliner and helps to oversee its e-commerce program. “We get around 80% of orders from this group, and 20% from the three or four other groups.”
Plus, Donald J Pliner now knows to send fewer emails to shoppers less likely to buy, which prevents fatigue and a high number of consumers unsubscribing from its email program, Chu adds.

Hey or Hi: The Nitty Gritty of Welcome Email Subjects

Layla Thomas, our summer marketing intern, shares her views on how to write an engaging email subject line in her latest blog post. You can reach out and say hi to Layla through LinkedIn.

When your copy is being blasted out to millions of people at a time, little details can generate a lot of added stress. Are you more of a gray or grey brand? Is the oxford comma classy or antiquated? Is that third exclamation point too much?

To prune away any blossoming email inferiority complexes, we at Listrak have quantified three Welcome Email trends by examining over eight hundred subject lines. Here’s what we’ve found:

The vast majority (almost 98%) of brands seem to avoid any kind of greeting eating up valuable subject line space but, for those who do, “Hello” seems to be the popular pick.

Speaking of wasting words…the subject of your email probably doesn’t need to self-reference. If they’re receiving an email, you can probably opt to just say “Thanks…” instead of “Here’s an email to say thanks!” Instead, save all those extra characters for making a stellar first impression, unlike almost 8% of the emails we reviewed. Don’t forget, only a limited number of characters are visible on a mobile device – make them all count. Learn more about mobile subject lines.

But what words really make a difference to the recipient? From what we can tell, including the recipient’s first name seems to be a vetted approach by a significant portion of brands.

Are you guilty of some existential blasts? Have you found increased engagement when adding a quirky “Howdy” instead of the common “Hello”? We’d love to hear about it.

Finding Subject Line Swagger: Welcome Emails

Finding Subject Line Swagger: Welcome Emails
Layla Thomas, our summer marketing intern, shares her views on how to write an engaging email subject line in her latest blog post. You can reach out and say hi to Layla through LinkedIn.

Sometimes it feels as though omnichannel marketing is more of a science than an art. With each split test, heat map, and cookie, marketing has become riddled with technical jargon and best practices. However, when every company imaginable is pushing out those “Top Trends for <Next Year>” reports in the winter, there’s a much foggier choice to be made: Should you follow the trends or purposefully not?

To date, there hasn’t really been a right answer to this question. However, if your goal is to make an email that is interesting to a reader, we may have just found a telling correlation.

Subject lines— the suit and tie of your email’s first date with a potential customer — can be notoriously lame. But does it really matter? We think so.

After tracking over 800 welcome emails throughout 2014 and flagging interesting emails as we went, we’ve found a positive link between the uniqueness of subject lines and reader interest. (And if someone can truly dub an email interesting after flipping through several thousands of them, you know it must be good.)

First, let’s look at the top words used in welcome series’ subject lines, as seen in the chart. Not the most inspiring list, yet together those ten words made up almost half of all words used in these 800+ surveyed emails.

When ten words make up almost half of the vocabulary, it’s not shocking that only 25.84% of all words surveyed were unique. Interested in how this would stack up, we investigated our well-stocked pile of over 125 interesting emails spanning from 2013 to 2015.
Not surprisingly, we see a huge jump between welcome emails and the average for emails dubbed interesting by Listrak employees. Coincidence? We think not. It seems, for subject lines anyway, sticking with the trends and typical phrasing could lower your chances of interesting a reader.

Moral of the story? While a subject line alone is likely not the sole justification for an email’s level of intrigue, there seems to be correlation enough to take a second look before sending another soulless “Thanks for signing up!” or “Welcome to your new account!” Make the most of your subject lines, and see how your engagement levels change of time.

Have you experimented with your subject lines recently? What did you find?