Innovation is defined as something new or different introduced. I find when it comes to innovation, it is easy to lose sight of improving on the tried and true, especially when on the surface the current solution appears to be effective. Forrester describes email as the “old salt” of a marketer’s digital toolkit and “still the most cost-effective promotional channel.” Savvy marketers should be asking themselves, “Am I leveraging email to the best of its ability to deliver personalized experiences and create deeper relationships with consumers?”
Epsilon was named a leader in Forrester’s recent report The Forrester WaveTM: Email Marketing Services Providers, Q2 2018, where the analyst firm “wanted to see if email marketing vendors were pressing marketers to treat email as more than just another advertising vehicle.”
Many email marketers aren’t measuring the effectiveness of the email channel. Sure, they may benchmark engagement metrics from campaign to campaign but in large part email is perceived as free due to increasing pressure that is decreasing CPM rates.
This mindset is antiquated. It focuses too heavily on sending more email to create short term revenue gains through promotions. It’s time to reimagine email, and focus on the factors that make email a critical channel to developing and maintaining personalized customer relationships that can be measured over time.
We believe for many brands, there needs to be a philosophical shift. Marketers have to step away from sending high-volumes of episodic email to drive short-term sales gains and move towards using email as a personalized, outcomes-based channel, developing conversations overtime and more meaningful customer connections in the moments that matter most as a result.
Personalize Email to Prove Performance
80 percent of consumers prefer brands that deliver personalized experiences. The decision on how to leverage email isn’t up to the marketer anymore: It’s up to the customer. Now is the time to reimagine email, from an inexpensive and efficient way to speak to the masses to a performance-driven channel that delivers the personal conversations consumers expect.
Traditionally, brands have leveraged segments and personas to fuel email marketing campaigns to groups of consumers, however, segmentation is no longer enough. Think about the Netflix experience or shopping at your corner grocer – this is the level of personalization to strive for in the inbox. Personalization in email isn’t simply first name and product recommendations; it must take into account the moments in which consumers are making decisions leveraging content, time of day, cadence, sequence of messages and more. Consumers have become accustomed to personalization and brands must treat each individual as a segment of one.
Brands like Coach are actively working toward this reality. With a versatile email architecture, Coach is able to create highly dynamic and personalized emails that include interactive content to increase engagement, store locations that drive customers to their nearest Coach store and messages and imagery that are live and clickable.
A versatile email architecture and custom modules allows you to deliver on personalization with a consistent structure, look and feel across communications. Leveraging modern automation enhances efficiencies and provides the flexibility to adapt to subscriber behavior and optimize communications that are not only personalized but in the spirit of your brand.
You can then generate greater value from your campaigns by enhancing the level of data behind your message and using it to deliver every message with a purpose. Consider what you already know about your customers through first-party data like transactional information, purchase history, name, address and email engagement. Augment that with third-party data to better understand the mindset, life stage and interests of your consumers. Combined, this information will allow you to know your customers better and create persistent connections across channels and devices.
Identify with the Individual
It is time to have a real conversation with customers via email, recognizing every action or inaction, for every piece of content, across every touchpoint – reading customer signals to not just deliver what they want today, but anticipate what they are going to want – before they even know they want it.
Customer identity that comes together the right way can reveal intent within email. If an existing customer is browsing your website for a flight to Paris online, you can understand that they're in the market for a trip and leverage that information to send more relevant emails. Understanding what people are doing in moments, activating the insights through machine learning and bringing that to the email channel, allows you to message to them more effectively and efficiently at scale.
Forrester noted Epsilon for “an unmatched balance of strong technology and professional services.” Going further, the report stated, “Advanced email marketers looking beyond purely promotional email will like its dedicated ‘agility keying’ module to identify users, enhance profiles using Epsilon’s data resources and then consolidate profiles across platforms.”
We believe effectively leveraging machine learning to automate content and lifecycle personalization requires the right data to educate the machine including logic that can determine content hierarchy, offer, sentiment, imagery and deliverability in real-time. Then, it requires a depth of experience, practical campaign management and creative expertise to ensure content is aligned to the customer lifecycle.
Retain Consumer Trust
According to Forrester, “Large regulated industries will like Epsilon’s ISO 27001 certification, quarterly compliance audits, and one-click PII protection.”
This becomes even more important during a time where consumers are demanding greater transparency and demonstrating choice over how their data is used for marketing purposes. We’ve always taken great measures to provide consumers the transparency and choice they deserve. We recently prepared our business and our clients for GDPR and continue to keep security and privacy at the forefront of what we do.
Our commitment to regulation standards not only makes email marketers legally compliant, it also makes them better marketers. We enable our clients to make sure that subscribers’ data is handled securely, which builds greater trust with customers. Meeting compliance standards also allows consumers to specify their email and data preferences. This means our clients can reach their subscribers in a way that is more authentic and desired. Instead of emailing people who aren’t interested, our clients reach the most suitable customers to drive greater return on marketing investment.
The last shift required to take email from a high-volume channel to a personalized outcomes-based channel built on results is its cost structure. As Forrester states in report, “most are still disappointingly focused on sending emails.” We believe this is because traditional CPM pricing relies solely on volume, incentivizing marketers to send more email without regard for its impact on the customer experience.
Building and maintaining personalized customer relationships through email requires technology, data and service to all come together. Our effective CPM approach combines platform, data, analytics, machine learning and services as a commitment to brands that we can deliver successful outcomes while offering a predictable budget.
We understand this mindset isn’t for everyone. As Forrester states in the report, “the right partner will be the one that suits your culture, program maturity and tech systems.” That’s why we focus on building relationships and driving outcomes for advanced enterprise email marketers.
Our mindset is, we’re not everyone’s email partner, we’re yours.
To learn more download the full report: The Forrester WaveTM: Email Marketing Services Providers, Q2 2018