Now as Head of Future Email, I of course love this channel and everything it delivers 24/7, 365 days a year, for every occasion and for every purpose whether that’s marketing, informative or service based reasons. When I reach for my phone in the morning I look firstly at my Gmail account (I can pre-empt any bad news which may have happened overnight by scrolling through subject lines) and get distracted by several shoe emails, Rightmove alerts and Pinterest suggestions all packaged uniquely to me. Only when I have satisfied my inbox curiosity will I then look at my News Apps and Facebook posts. Yes, we all know the email channel continues to reign, with email, you really do get more for your money.
Email is far more cost effective when comparing its virtues with other channels. Email messaging allows you free rein over content (so long as you follow compliance). Email gives you massive reach. Content can be clever, live, agile, dynamic and relevant to each unique individual. Backed up by a single view of the customer, facilitated by a Customer Data Platform, the entire message can be tailored to suit browser behaviour, profiling, predictive analytics, demographic and transactional history. The message can be delivered at an optimised time for the unique recipient. It can be throttled, split tested and the send can even be requested again when the recipient wants it, either to their inbox or as an SMS at a preferred time. There is not much we haven’t been able to achieve in recent years.
Let’s face it, if you’re doing everything right, any marketer can attain fantastic conversion rates and ROI. That is why email is still King.
It's clear that email is a winner, but what about multi-channel communications?
However, I am admittedly addicted to my inbox. So, before I get egg on my face and miss the intention of this blog, I admit I have also seen a shift in the way brands want to talk to their customers. Email is no longer the only way to retain your customer base. If they unsubscribe, it’s not the end of the road or relationship. There are many channels where they can still interact, after all not everyone loves email as much as me. In fact, lots of people avoid it altogether I hear!
So, what are the shifts in behaviour we have seen with our clients in the first quarter of this year?
It seems SMS messaging is back on trend. Whoop! For years now clients have been shy of this channel under the assumption that it was costly and difficult to assess success. Possibly true in the past. And while marketers deliberated over their purse strings, society deemed text messaging as unsociable and invasive (although I think this was an untrue rumour because it was always the SMEs’ choice of communication; everyone loves a text reminder from their hairdresser or dentist. Well maybe not the latter).
Today though, SMS has had a resurgence, most likely for two reasons:
It’s cheaper and now more trackable which satisfies senior managers.
It’s a surefire way of improving the customer experience. The more we shop online, the more we want to be reassured that the transaction went as smoothly as if we had bothered to go to the store. So, communication back to the customer is a winning factor against one’s competitors. SMS satisfies this gap being the most direct and time sensitive way to contact a customer.
So, assuming that customer experience is proving a huge influence over the brand choix-du-jour, allowing the customer to communicate back to the brand is equally important. Why? Because your customers are your biggest weapon when it comes to getting things right or wrong. Feedback has become a channel in its own right. Such is the power of reviews and information gathering, feedback can make or break each and every sale. So why bother at all? No reviews or comments means the customer has to make a decision. Alone. A chance. A punt on buying from you or buying from your competitor who has taken the time to listen to its flock, good or bad. Let your audience tell you what they think. Not just of the products, but of your marketing strategy. How was your experience? How do you rate this email? What could we do better? Why are you leaving us? Scary stuff, yes, but better the devil you know.
New innovations within the industry are now allowing us to share content in different ways via different channels, including social, push and direct mail. This is key in offering a truly multi-channel experience for your customers whilst remaining fully trackable. People change and evolve just as your business changes and evolves. Customers can become bored with social media, or frustrated by an overflowing email account. They may want to rant at you but still stay loyal. What you do and say this year will most likely become obsolete for the next, so why have the same plan? By all means, create imaginative season-related email campaigns but don’t forget to try something fresh in the new season. While I will certainly be reading and responding to your email only campaign, you may be alienating your true revenue drivers by putting all your eggs in one channel after all.