Marketers learned an important lesson about email marketing during the recent recession; namely, that few marketing channels can drive ROI and business goals as effectively as email. And in boardrooms all around the world, executives are beginning to view email as a highly successful sales and marketing channel, choosing wisely to weave it into their business strategy rather than dismissing it as just another marketing line item.
As we enter into an economic recovery, consumers will continue to be financially wary, closely evaluating their spending and prioritizing purchases in retail and across other categories. Marketers can expect email to remain bullish, but for consumers the definition of value has changed following the recession. As a result, acquiring a larger share of consumers' wallets will require some degree of innovation on the part of email marketers. Here are five ways in which email marketers will help fuel the recovery in 2010.
1. Email marketers will give customers control. But first they will have to teach customers how to take control. For several years now email marketers have preached the importance of delivering relevant email, but haven't always had the necessary depth of customer data. This year more focus will be placed on creating solutions that enable customers to share information about themselves, such as preference centers and robust social networks. Even more importantly, more emphasis will be placed on helping customers understand the value of providing more information: more meaningful communications, better service, and delivery on the consumers' wishes.
2. Email marketers will rely on more advanced metrics. In order to provide customers with more value, email marketers will need to find more convincing and effectual metrics than open rates and click-throughs. Expect sophisticated retailers to more aggressively link disparate customer behavior data captured via email, e-commerce, in-store, and even social networks, as a way to better understand consumer attitudes and how to best influence them. This will enable email marketers to engage their best customers more effectively and retain them longer.
3. Retailers will emphasize their unique value proposition in email. The customer experience is more critical than it has ever been, and in 2010 retailers will place a great deal of effort to make it consistent across their stores, e-commerce sites, email campaigns, and more. In fact, many retailers have begun to shift in-store loyalty programs to email with the understanding that it provides customers with more immediate satisfaction and a more valuable and consistent experience. For the more exclusive online retailers, email is becoming part of the service proposition. Take membership-driven retailers such as RueLaLa.com for example, where email essentially becomes the product.
4. Marketers will use email as their business bellwether. Email trumps all other marketing channels for its ability to produce compelling metrics that are based on real data. Marketing executives are recognizing this more often, and moving email to the core of their marketing communications plan, where it can be effectively used to inform other channels and provide a proving ground for retailers' merchandising strategies. Email will be used to drive multichannel success.
5. Email marketers will renew their focus on acquisition. During the recession, many email marketers focused exclusively on retaining customers, while others abandoned best practices causing list sizes to decrease or stagnate. The recovery will inspire email marketers to uncover new strategies for email list growth, starting with integrating email and social media. By driving customers to join networks, enabling them to share content with friends and family, and encouraging new customers to register for email on Facebook and other networks, email marketers can jump-start the email acquisition engine in 2010 and beyond. In addition, email marketers will find value in creating "acquitention" programs. These are campaigns designed to acquire email addresses from customers who do business with you through other channels, such as in-store, call centers, or catalogs, as well programs designed to reinvigorate inactive customers lost during the recession.