The year is quickly coming to a close, which means it’s time for one of our favorite traditions: TowerData’s annual email marketing predictions.
As you prepare your 2017 email marketing strategy, make sure to keep the following trends and themes in mind.
Expanded Use of Unifying Data/Connection Data
In the coming year, more marketers will be using connection data to unify their database and to link a customer’s identity across channels, both online and offline. Brands want to be able to understand how the customer is engaging with them on every channel, and connection data will be critical in accomplishing this.
Unifying data will help these marketers provide an improved cross-channel experience. Cross-channel experiences are about allowing a customer to move seamlessly through every avenue-be it social, mobile, desktop, direct mail, paid search or in-store. Consider retargeting campaigns. Whether the retargeting is being executed via one of the many display networks, social media channels or with an email, brands that leverage unifying data will have a greater sense of the customer’s journey. As a result, they’ll be able to target more intelligently, make better use of the ad real estate and offer more relevant content.
One of the most important pieces of unifying data is the hashed email address. Customers use their hashed email address when they register for just about anything online-from creating a social media account to downloading an app to purchasing a computer. Marketers can connect a hashed email address to a mobile ID or a physical address or a customer loyalty number and then have even more data.
An additional benefit of unifying data will be improved attribution. One challenge marketers face is determining the best way to encourage a consumer to make a purchase the same day they shop. The traditional method for attribution assigns full credit to the customer’s last interaction before the sale. But when a marketer unifies the data, he or she has better visibility into which combination of marketing tactics influenced a purchase-it’s no longer an all-or-nothing approach.
For example, say a consumer received an email after engaging with the brand’s social media account, then signed up for an in-store loyalty program and then made a purchase via a shopping app. Using unifying data, a marketer can measure the influence of every interaction and decide the appropriate budget to spend on the right marketing mix
More Robust Loyalty Programs
In 2017, more brands will use data to build smarter, stronger customer loyalty programs.
A strong loyalty program benefits both the consumer and the brand. When a customer enrolls in a loyalty program, he or she is assigned a unique ID that marketers can use to gain valuable insight into their behavior for future marketing efforts and a better cross-channel experience. Leveraging the data it gathers from the customer ID, a brand can have a better understanding of what matters to the individual consumer and tailor its strategy accordingly.
In return, the consumer receives highly personalized offers, special rewards and access to exclusive sales.
A great example of an exceptional loyalty program is REI. A lifetime membership in REI’s loyalty program costs only $20 and entitles the consumer to myriad benefits, such as:
- Annual member dividend of up to 10% of the cost of purchases made in the last year
- Exclusive discounts
- Access to semiannual sales
- Special pricing on classes, equipment rentals and store services
- Easier and faster returns and exchanges
REI also offers product recommendations based on a member’s past purchases. They take advantage of customer data to provide a better email experience but, most importantly, they are transparent and honest about the ways they use this data.
Greater Pressure for On-Demand Options
Consumers have come to expect instant gratification and on-demand service. In response, marketers will have to create experiences where customers can get what they want, when they want it and do so with as little effort as possible.
Many major brands are already offering on-demand services via mobile apps. For example, Starbucks allows its customers to place and pay for an order on its app and then have their order waiting for them when they arrive-no waiting in line required.
As app functionality grows, consumers will spend more time in the app, completing more actions and providing more data to a brand. Brands will then marry this app data with demographic data and send intelligent triggered emails with more meaningful messaging, helping to increase engagement.
In addition to apps, there will be an increase in one-click conversion opportunities in emails. The email will contain a special offer which recipients can claim with a single click instead of completing an entire form. Customers will be able to confirm a reservation or cancel an order in seconds.
So where do you think email marketing is headed in 2017? We’d love to hear your predictions. Feel free to share them in the comments below. As always, we hope you had some big wins this past year. Here’s to continued success into 2017!
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