Consumers have the option to choose from dozens of communication channels, be it word of mouth, social media, television or snail mail. But a recent survey of shoppers in the US and UK found an overwhelming 48% prefer email over any other form of communication. This rate is higher than phone, website, in-person, chat, texting and social networks. With the amount of active email accounts to hit 3.8 billion by 2014, retailers are reassessing their email communication strategies.
The problem with email isn’t that it’s under-utilized, it’s under-optimized. The “batch and blast” approach is the predominant method of sending marketing messages, but it is becoming less effective. Consumers are inundated with advertisements from all channels – especially email – and are increasingly labored by sifting through too much information just to find the pieces pertinent to them. In today’s digital environment, consumers have come to expect relevant information. So how do retailers recapture consumers’ attention through the communication channel of choice? It’s all about personalization.
Several leading retailers have recognized this need to better optimize their email marketing and have begun acting on it. Among them, Destination XL Group, the largest multi-channel specialty retailer of big and tall men’s apparel, has discovered that as unique as their retail offerings are, each customer has equally unique preferences. Jay Nigrelli, VP of e-commerce at Destination XL Group, explains, “Email is one of our strongest communication methods when it comes to connecting with our customers outside of store walls, and we wanted to help mirror our personal in-store experience through this channel.
Destination XL’s new email marketing program is putting their big data analytics to work by using advanced predictive algorithms to create highly relevant emails that speak to each recipient based on their past purchase behavior, tastes and preferences. “We expect to take our email campaigns to the next level and turn what was once an overwhelming amount of data into relevant messages tailored to each individual’s shopping patterns and preferences,” said Nigrelli.
Retailers that have adopted personalized email strategies quickly realized the payoffs of investing in the optimization of their marketing campaigns. When comparing personalized to non-personalized promotional emails, a recent study found that personalized subject lines generate higher open rates (19.5% compared to their counterparts with 15.1%) and higher revenue per email. Customers utilizing CQuotient’s hyper-targeted email technology often see 2-3X improvements in both engagement (click-throughs) and revenue per recipient.
The future is ripe and for the taking. Consumers are sharing plenty of data each day – through purchase history, web searches, email logs, etc. It is up to retailers improve their communication strategies to glean signals from the data and turn it into action. Early retail leaders are doing just that, and getting a jump ahead of others in the industry. The longer their competitors continue with simple batch and blast emails, the longer these early leaders will have a field advantage and cement their share of consumers’ wallets.
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