Optimising For Both Ends Of The Purchase Funnel

The last year has been another 12 months of change for email, with high-profile acquisitions of specialist email businesses made by some of the biggest software companies in the world. Oracle bought Responsys, while IBM snapped up Silverpop. This is evidence, were it needed, that email is as important as it ever has been.

These big CRM providers have clearly realised the need for email to be integrated into their initial marketing propositions. They see it as so urgent that they’ve bought up established email marketing tools, rather than develop their own in-house. They’ve realised that targeted marketing (right content, right person, right time) simply does not work without email. No other medium is as flexible or cost-effective – and, most importantly, no other is so universal.

One of the big advantages of these changes to the email landscape is that it’s now possible for marketers to automate content management in ways they could only dream of in years gone by. This has always been the final and most complex part of the email marketing process, but with the latest technologies available to them, brand marketers can begin to go beyond the broad segmentation that has become all-to-common in an attempt to “personalise.”

All too often, segmentation has been used as a proxy for personalisation, but the two are not the same thing. True automation of content personalisation means that every promotional message that is sent is relevant to the recipient. Thus marketers will also need to start thinking about utilising email’s capabilities at the top of the purchase funnel rather than the current view, which regards the medium purely in terms of the conversion channel at the bottom of the funnel.

Your customers may not open an email for a whole host of reasons, but it is worth remembering that just because they decide not to open an email doesn’t mean it doesn’t leave an impression. It’s this unique attribute of email (delivered by the subject line) that offers the chance for it to be used as a top-of-the-funnel broadcast marketing channel.

Understanding this opportunity means marketers can begin to truly account for these impressions, as well as better optimise the email subject line to attract customers into that top end of the purchase funnel. If marketers can learn to optimise their emails, from the first impression to the last – for both the top AND bottom of the purchase funnel -- we’ll see even more powerful and effective campaigns. We’ll also have a better understanding of where email sits in the wider omnichannel marketing landscape and develop more realistic attribution models. Ultimately, strategies that drive brand awareness and affinity by increasing reach and frequency have a major impact on sales; email can offer this like no other channel.

Advances in the functionality of the major ESP platforms allied with the arrival of new tools from third parties have made it possible to automate content management in ways that make true personalisation a much more realistic proposition for marketers. This ability to deliver a hyper-personalised experience has only previously been an option for companies like Amazon or Groupon that have the  scale to make developing their own tools viable, but now this level of service delivery is available to any brand willing to commit to a more personalised future.

With these advances in automation technology, brands can stop worrying about the operational aspects of their campaigns and rather zero in on delivering great content to drive customer engagement and brand interactions. I guess you could say that 2015 will be the year that we realise the opportunity email offers for true personalisation of email
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