There is one universal truth, regardless of your industry: Consumers are notoriously difficult to please. They expect consistent, personalized experiences every time they interact with your brand, and if they don’t get them, they’ll move on.
Marketing professionals likely already know one of the most effective ways to provide these personalized experiences is via email. But if you’re just beginning to use email for B2C marketing, we’d like to offer some advice from an email marketing veteran.
Daniel Eisenhut, Vice President of Services and Support at marketing automation software provider Emarsys, shared what he’s learned during his 12 years in the industry.
Below are some of Daniel’s insights about the past, present and future of B2C email marketing.
The Past and Present of B2C Email Marketing
The previous strategy for B2C email marketing was to use one-size-fits-all messaging. Brands would send emails to their entire subscriber list and then adjust their strategy primarily based on basic email engagement metrics (for example, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes) with minimal focus on the limited demographic data available.
In the last few years the segmentation strategy evolved to include both email engagement and shopper behavior data. This involves date of purchase, items bought, shopping frequency and average order value, among other data points. Using this information, brands could better personalize offers and discounts.
The final layer was adding website engagement data to the mix-for example, the last time the user logged into his or her account, which products the user viewed, which products the user added to his or her cart, whether or not the user abandoned his or her cart and so on. Using data about email engagement, shopper behavior and website engagement has allowed marketers to create specific personas, making it easier to target effectively.
Personalizing by Lifecycle Stage
In addition to the common method of targeting based on engagement, demographic and behavior data, another opportunity for marketers is to personalize B2C email communications based on the user’s lifecycle stage.
Below are the five buyer lifecycle stages and how marketers can use data to engage them:
- 1. Visitor who has not yet purchased. Since there is no purchase behavior data for individuals in this category, marketers should use website behavior data (for example, which products and product categories the visitor viewed) to determine the type of content or offers that are most likely to convert this visitor into a first-time buyer.
- 2. First-time buyer. Marketers can review the buyer’s initial interaction with the brand, identify products related to his or her purchase and then re-engage the buyer by sending emails with recommendations for these complementary items.
- 3. Active buyer. Because active buyers regularly interact with and purchase from your company, marketers should send an email inviting these buyers to join a loyalty program. Offering active buyers access to special promotions and discounts helps encourage them to stay active buyers.
- 4. Defecting buyer. Defecting buyers had been active buyers but no longer meet the purchase time period or frequency criteria to be classified as active. They haven’t necessarily stopped purchasing from your brand entirely, but their behavior indicates they might. Before offering defecting buyers incentives, it’s a good idea to email them a customer satisfaction survey and then choose your next step based on their responses.
- 5. Inactive buyer. Inactive buyers have not purchased from your company for a predetermined period of time. This duration is chosen by the brand based on the standard sales cycle for their products or services. If an inactive buyer is still interacting with your brand, just not purchasing, reach out to them via email with a special offer inviting them back.
Artificial Intelligence Marketing (AIM)
One form of technology marketers can expect to see grow in popularity is using artificial intelligence marketing (AIM) in B2C emails. AIM automates certain parts of the marketing process (such as product and incentive recommendations) using an algorithm that leverages a brand’s email database.
AIM allows marketers to focus on other responsibilities, such as reporting, analytics and optimization. Over the next couple years, many marketers will aim for 100% automation.
B2C email marketing is constantly evolving, and new technology and strategies are emerging every day. Do you have any questions or advice about the future of B2C email marketing? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter!
Successful B2C email marketing starts with plenty of quality data. See how Email Intelligence can help you build more effective campaigns.