20 top tips for retail email marketers – part one

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy has 20 top tips for email retail marketers

Email marketing remains a critical part of the retail marketer’s toolkit.

As a critical channel it’s important that you get the most out of your email campaigns.

With this in mind I have created a top 20 tips count down. Part one (20-11) are below – I will publish the top 10 in a few weeks.

  1. Analytics and tracking

Constantly measuring the performance of your email marketing campaigns is critical to on-going success. As marketers you should concentrate on the KPIs that contribute to your business goals, whether that is click-through rates, opens or conversions.

A key to measuring is to never be satisfied. Just because your campaigns are performing well doesn’t mean they can’t perform better. So keep tracking, testing and tinkering.

  1. Lifecycle email marketing

Lifecycle email marketing is essentially automated email marketing that uses a high-degree of personalisation… and we’re not talking about just including someone’s name!

Divide your email base into segments so that you can see the types of customers and characteristics your brand attracts. Try to pinpoint differences in behaviour such as click-throughs and conversion among these groups then send them emails specifically tailored to the needs of those segments.

New customers will likely behave differently from customers who have been with you for years – similarly, frequent customers and rare purchasers will also be after different things.

  1. Validate your email quality data

In order to get the most of your email marketing you need to make sure you’re talking to the right people. Most people nowadays have more than one email address which they use to varying degrees.

Likewise it’s not that impossible to conceive that someone could input the wrong address when signing up – or make a spelling mistake. Because of these risks, brands with large databases of contacts which they have accumulated over quite a few years should attempt to validate their data before dumping inactive subscribers or running a reactivation campaign.

Click here to see the Email Validate service provided by Experian Data Quality.

  1. Automation and event triggered behavioural emails

Event-triggered, or behavioural emails, are emails that you can have your CRM system send after specific events. For example, after a potential customer reads a certain number of pieces of content, or comments a number of times you could automatically email them offering them further related material – thereby encouraging further engagement.

This is a big one and deserves much more space than the few paragraphs I’m able to give you here. Automation is a fantastic way of nurturing leads and reducing drop offs. Whether it’s an email that is fired out after a customer only fills out half a form or doesn’t respond to a confirmation, automation is there to help make it easier for the customer to finish what they were doing.

To start with focus on your busiest pages and where you’re witnessing the largest drop offs and send an automated email asking why they dropped off and providing a quick and easy solution. Then collate the feedback and make whatever changes you need to reduce that bounce and drop off rate.

  1. email

    Email remains a important weapon in the marketer’s armoury

    Keep mobile in mind – responsive email marketing

It’s critical for marketers to keep mobile in mind. Mobile is as big and important as desktop with just as many people reading their emails on a mobile device as desktops (source) so make sure you’re aware of the subject line parameters, preview options and that your emails are responsive. If they’re not half the people who receive them aren’t going to be able to read them.

Mobile’s big, and it’s only going to get bigger.

  1. Use A/B testing

In an ideal world you should A/B test every email you send. However, this is fairly impractical so consider which have the biggest impact on your bottom line and your business priorities and test them.

You’d be amazed at the difference a seemingly similar email can experience just due to a couple of small changes. For retail I would experiment with different upsells and cross-sells or vary the ‘content like this’ sign posts you include.

  1. Reward your loyal customers

For most retailers the majority of revenue is created by a small group of loyal customer who purchase regularly. Much of marketing is the attempt to get people to become loyal customers and stay loyal. So why not reward them for being so? All your marketing spend shouldn’t be focused on acquiring new customers, make sure you’re treating the ones you already have well.

Try segmenting your customers into different groups and send them different gifts or discounts based on what you know about them and how valuable you consider them. Remember, the intention here isn’t to upsell or get more money out of them, it’s about rewarding them, so make sure the reward is good enough to be taken as such.

  1. Surprise your customers with perks

In a similar vein to the previous point it can pay dividends to occasionally reach out with perks and surprise gifts. This can really make customers love your brand and can either be used to keep customers or to turn those customers into valuable advocates.

  1. Be prepared for seasonality – have a calendar

Most marketers will be aware of the seasonal peaks and troughs associated with their industry and products. National holidays such as Christmas or back-to-school shopping periods are two obvious examples of the annual events which could/should influence your email marketing schedule.

Despite this how often is that Valentine’s Day campaign created the week before the big day? More often than we’d like to admit I suspect. Considering how much potential these sorts of events hold for retailers it’s important to have a system that ensures you’re planning out your activity well ahead of time.

Build a 12-month calendar that includes holidays and events relevant to your industry. Make sure everyone has access to it in your marketing team/department and keep updating it when you can. It really makes the difference.

Download the 2015 marketing insights calendar here

  1. Include a CTA in every email

Every email should contain a Call To Action (CTA) even if the point of the email isn’t to sell. You never know what is exactly is going through the mind of the reader and it could be that they are actually ready to make a purchase. It shouldn’t be too bright and dominating but the CTA should be there.

What do you think should be in the top 10?

I hope you found the above useful and it’s left you with a few new ideas to consider.

Of course this list is far from complete so please watch this space for my top 10 which I’ll be publishing in a week or so. In fact, I’m still writing it now so let me know what you think should be included!

Drop me a comment below or Tweet me @ExperianMkt_UK

My top 10 will be published here.

Experian Marketing Services is the leading global provider of customer insights, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers.

By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.