Don't Pay To Play -- Pay To Personalise

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, October 26, 2016

In the fight over inbox space, it appears marketers have forgotten the consumers themselves. Now, with inboxes at breaking point, there have been calls for businesses to pay for a pay-to-play email "stamp" to ensure delivery in customers’ inboxes.

This move may go some way in making businesses think twice about the communications they send. However, email "stamps" still fail to address the underlying issues that are causing consumers to turn off from email. It doesn’t matter how much a marketer pays to gain access to a customer’s inbox if the message they deliver isn’t relevant to that person. Indeed, having paid a premium to ensure delivery, making sure the message sent is on target and arrives at the right time is more important than ever.

A study last year by the Direct Marketing Association revealed that over 60% of consumers feel that most of the marketing emails they receive are of no interest to them, with a staggering 83% saying they often wonder why they receive brand emails. Given the sheer amount of data every marketer can now access about consumers, these statistics are simply not good enough.

There are a whole host of new data sources that can add extra insight and power to email marketing campaigns. Instead of just using traditional demographic and marketing data, marketers could also target consumers by their online browsing and social media behaviour, previous interactions with a business and even by their current environments.

Using this information, a retailer could promote its new range of sandals to consumers that have previously bought festival wear and used the hashtag #coachella2017. Going one step further, the same retailer may be able to tell from previous years that orders for floral headbands peak a week ahead of major festivals and are often ordered on phones in the morning. Sending a mobile optimized email featuring floral headbands a week before Coachella to any customer using the #coachella2017 hashtag then seems like a blindingly obvious move.

Further detail comes in the form of combining all this data with open weather or transit data. If the weather forecast for Coachella suddenly takes a turn for the worse, those marketing emails promoting sandals and headbands can swiftly be replaced with raincoats and wellington boots.

Achieving this level of personalisation should not be restricted to a scattering of marketing and data-savvy businesses. The technology to make sure marketing emails are delivered with the right message is accessible to any business, large or small. There is a flawed idea that setting up personalised messages is an expensive and time-consuming process. Adopting a pay-to-play system is likely to cost just as much, if not more, when you factor in ROI.

As the calls for pay-to-play have proven, consumers’ time is money. Businesses owe it to their customers to deliver messages that are timely and personal to each individual. Conversely, if every business respected their customers’ attention spans and crammed inboxes, the calls for email "stamps" may disappear completely. 

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