Use Email To Overcome Threats, Impact Retail Strategy

If you’re a retail email marketer today, you undoubtedly understand what’s happening in the space.  It’s getting more difficult and costly to acquire customers, and even harder to retain them through repeat purchases.  This unbalanced ratio of customer lifetime value to acquisition costs means retailers are struggling to turn a profit.

I’d even go as far as saying that the retail industry as we’ve traditionally known it is in serious trouble. Still, many marketers in the space continue with the usual campaign tactics instead of working to impact lifetime value through consumer-first relationship-building.

As email marketers, you have access to first-party data and the ability to better manage and cultivate customer relationships. Even if your company’s overall strategy isn’t evolving for the better, you still can make an impact. Here are three threatening trends in retail today that should compel you to be more consumer-first in your email marketing efforts and grow your brand’s customer lifetime value.  



1. Amazon is eroding everyone’s profits. I realize this is an overused warning.  Amazon is a huge threat, though, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated.  In 2015, Amazon took 60% of U.S. online sales growth, and the company continues to experience momentum.  Prime has made ordering from the company tremendously convenient by delivering items within two days. The other major factor of Amazon’s success: it does a phenomenal job of personalizing every aspect of customer experience.  

For email marketers, personalization is a huge step forward in generating better conversion. I know we’ve been talking about this for years, but my inbox still doesn’t reflect a lot of personalization in retail emails, so it’s worth continuing to hammer the point home.

2. Brand entrants are laser-focused. Newer e-commerce companies popping up are very customer-focused in every aspect of their business, giving more mature competitors reason to worry.  Consider a brand like Warby Parker, which penetrated a very crowded market by selling on-trend eyewear online at inexpensive prices while also giving a pair to someone in need with every purchase. The brand has a small number of stores, so it relies on its personalized online experience and offers online shoppers the chance to try on up to five pairs of glasses at home for free before buying.  

Even if you work for a mature brand with a lot of products and categories, you can leverage data to provide very specific experiences for different types of customers to create a boutique feel.  Email is a very easy way for your brand to growth-hack and test various options to get real-time feedback and help shape a larger strategic shift at your company.

3. Millennials are changing the game. There is a lot of focus on millennials, and for good reason.  They are now the largest generation, have tremendous buying power, and approach purchasing decisions differently than any other generation.

It’s vital that you leverage email to answer the consumer's “What’s in it for me?” more so than ever before, since millennials won’t stand for myopic and self-serving messages from brands.  

It’s also critical to build convenience into your emails. One example: putting store locators that update at the time of open based on the recipient’s location, and linking to Google Maps to help customers drive to the nearest store. You can also curate products to make the shopping process easier, as Trunk Club or Stitch Fix do—even if your business doesn’t have the same business model as those brands.

You can minimize friction between the email and the conversion funnel by optimizing the entire path for mobile and personalizing every aspect of the experience.

What trends are you seeing in this struggling industry that have forced you to make changes to your approach? Have you leveraged email to help your company growth-hack its way to a new strategy?  If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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