For the past few years, some experts have been sounding the death knell for email, opining that the platform’s best days are behind it and pointing to social media as the new preferred engagement channel.
In terms of the “one-size-fits-all” emails sent as part of impersonal, non-targeted “spray and pray” messaging campaigns, these critics are correct. In an age when consumers are increasingly prioritizing customization and personalization, there’s no room for electronic correspondence that’s obviously generic and hasn’t been tailored to fit individual and demographic preferences.
So, if widespread blasts are on their way out, what type of messaging constitutes the future of the medium? There are two approaches that companies should aim to use: targeted and trigger-based emails.
Hitting the target
Provided marketers are leveraging contemporary and comprehensive data, targeted emails should only be received by the portion of the consumer base that will actually be interested in what they contain. The more data small businesses can collect about customers, the better. What kind of data should you collect for maximum results?
- General demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
- Marital/familial status
- Hobbies and activities
- Last transaction date
- Purchase history
Tailoring campaigns using some of the above info means recipients will associate your outreach with information that is personally relevant to them, so they’ll be more likely to open future messages and engage with the content.
In contrast, if a firm develops a reputation for missing the mark rather than hitting the target, consumers might be more inclined to hit “Unsubscribe” or delete emails without reading them – not exactly the goal of any email marketing campaign.
Pulling the trigger
Trigger-based emails are a form of target marketing in their own right. The delivery of these automated messages is prompted by a consumer action and, if properly orchestrated, can increase conversions, bolster brand awareness and facilitate the collection of behavior-based data.
Trigger-based emails can take many forms, from the quintessential “Thanks for signing up!” welcome email to a prompt about an abandoned shopping cart. As outlined by Marketing Land, other types include:
- Date-sensitive (birthday, signup anniversary, time to renew or reorder)
- Upsells and cross-promotions (“You bought X, so you may also like Y”)
- Re-engagement (“We miss you!” solicitations, often paired with special offers to win back dormant customers)
- Transactional (order confirmations, shipping confirmations, bills, receipts)
- Post-purchase feedback solicitation (customer experience surveys, product review prompts)
Once a business has more than just an email address, it can then send customers personalized emails as well as automatic, trigger-based emails, such as birthday or anniversary offers. This type of outreach is so effective because it reaches a customer at just the time when the related trigger is freshest or most relevant.
Supporting your trigger-based emails
Ultimately, your overall strategy determines whether or not your email marketing will be fruitful. While targeted and trigger-based emails are the way of the future, it’s doubtful you’ll find much success if email is your sole work horse.
Regardless of how you try to establish a smarter email marketing strategy, you need to reinforce your message through multiple channels. Your emails may be on point, but not everyone responds favorably to that platform. It’s crucial that you bolster this method of outreach through social networking and direct mail initiatives.