With rising customer expectations, up-and-coming competitors and new disruptive technologies, retailers that aren’t completely customer-focused are being left in the dust. In fact, according to Forrester research commissioned by Adobe, “customer obsession” is a leading indicator of revenue; compared to less mature firms, more customer-focused companies exceeded their revenue goals, and the benefits of customer obsession don’t end there. In addition to greater revenue, more customer-obsessed firms report higher customer satisfaction scores, differentiate themselves from competitors and innovate at faster rates than other respondents.
The results are clear: today’s customers want more from brands than just transactional promotions. For retailers, this means making shoppers the core of everything they do in order to earn customer loyalty.
Kickstarting your customer obsession can seem daunting, but email marketing is the ideal entry point into the hearts of shoppers — as long as outdated email practices are left at the door. Traditional email tactics such as using email strictly for promotions, or prioritizing clicks over customer satisfaction, just aren’t cutting it with shoppers. Forrester found that just 8% of consumers are very satisfied with the promotional emails they receive.
But don’t let this pitiful statistic deter you; if anything, this percentage represents the realm of opportunities when it comes to email marketing strategy. No matter where you’re at in your journey to becoming a customer-obsessed retailer, here are three areas where you can evolve your email methods and go from a conversion rate of zero to an email marketing hero.
Punch Up Your Strategy:
Email may be tried and true, but not every email strategy is a winning one. Using a test and learn approach to email marketing not only enables you to get to know your shoppers, but you can then use this information in ads or merchandising across other media, allowing you to continuously adapt to the interests, preferences and needs of your customers. Customer-centric retailers know how crucial it is to utilize data like location and open and click behavior, especially if they want to gain a more holistic understanding of every shopper.
Why does learning about your shoppers matter? It’s the only way to ensure that the content you’re sending is timely and relevant. Otherwise, you’ll be sure to lose customers through email list attrition or the spam folder.
Give Content A Personal Touch:
We all know content is king, but as we just discussed, only personalized content has the ability to connect with shoppers on a deeper level. Customer-focused retailers not only take the time to get to know their audience, but also provide content that speaks to their customers’ unique interests, lifestyles and values.
Email personalization means far more than just inserting your customer’s name into an email. While a great first step, email personalization has new possibilities that span beyond the basics. Small details like location-specific offers, content that reflects the current weather, loyalty status or past purchases are just some of the ways savvy retail marketers keep content personal and impactful.
For example, beauty retailers will often leverage existing loyalty member data on past purchases to remind shoppers when they’re due for a refill on their favorite products. Once you’ve nailed down some more basic content personalization tactics, you can begin hacking your email program in bigger ways, like integrating fresh email templates, and innovations such as embedding transactions or customer feedback surveys within email promotions
Reframe Your Metrics — And Your Mindset:
Becoming customer-centric is not just about skillset — it’s also about mindset. A truly customer-focused strategy must think beyond “how can I improve open and click rates” to “how can my team use email to create a better brand experience.” Improving open and click rates is always the goal, but as our customer-obsessed companies prove, reframing your retail marketing goals to focus on customer satisfaction will make the clicks and opens come pouring in. In fact, 83% of customer obsessed firms that say they measure customer satisfaction say it’s their top marketing goal.
Sounds easy enough, but what does this look like in practice? For retailers conducting email marketing campaigns, this means understanding how well email continues a shopper’s cross-platform brand experience. You can start by noting when email assists conversions that complete other channels, when it boosts lifetime value or customer satisfaction, and how it fosters brand engagement. By putting the shopper at the center of your campaign goals, the road to customer loyalty becomes far smoother.
Though it might feel risky to change up your email marketing approach, innovating your email tactics is the first step to building stronger loyalty with new and existing shoppers. And as customer-focused firms show, the benefits associated with customer-obsession — like higher revenues, increased customer satisfaction and competitor differentiation — may be well worth the risk. Don’t stress if you can’t adopt all these new tactics at once. By learning about your customers and embracing a customer-focused mindset, you’ll be well on your way to creating more meaningful engagement.
Bridgette Darling is a product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign. In this role, she focuses on marketing and strategy for Campaign’s email marketing capabilities. Darling is passionate about helping email marketers achieve their goals by educating on best practices, advancements in technology and overall strategy.