In the current retail environment, major players all over the UK are closing stores \u2013 including House of Fraser, New Look, and Marks & Spencer.\r\n\r\nGiven this state of affairs, it\u2019s more important than ever before for retailers to maximise their marketing investment for greater return on investment (ROI). And yet, on current evidence, a great many marketers simply aren\u2019t doing this: it\u2019s expected that, in 2018, some 26% will be wasting their budgets on the wrong channels and strategies.\r\n\r\nWith GDPR firmly in effect, retail businesses now have a clear opportunity to rethink their marketing strategies and boost their profitability. Key to this is choosing a marketing ROI model - are you looking to maximise value, or minimise cost? Budget, operational priorities, and commercial objectives will all affect your choice of model. Let\u2019s take a closer look at each.\r\nMinimising cost\r\nIf you\u2019re a smaller player looking to minimise cost, then you\u2019ll need to think about how to find efficiencies in your email marketing strategy. Essentially, this is about reducing the time, money, and manpower involved in devising, implementing, and analysing your email campaigns. Happily, whether you\u2019re running welcome campaigns or upsell campaigns, there are plenty of ways to find these efficiencies. We\u2019ve put together four of the main approaches below.\r\nReuse data (and reuse campaigns)\r\nNaturally, this point must come with the necessary post-GDPR caveat that you cannot use or reuse anyone\u2019s data unless you have their explicit consent to do so or another lawful basis for contacting them.\r\n\r\nIf you\u2019re working for an online retailer, you\u2019ll likely have a deep well of customer data to draw from. This information can provide valuable insights into customer preferences, behaviours and tastes; enabling you to identify who has looked at which pages when and which visits have resulted in purchases.\r\n\r\nWith marketing technology software such as Adobe Campaign, you can template emails, campaigns, and workflows to target these customers again \u2013 creating variance where appropriate in terms of signature, layout, phrasing, and timing, but essentially using the same setup. This is much cheaper than starting each campaign from scratch.\r\nCentralise governance\r\nGovernance is essential for all businesses, especially multi-national brands distributing content across many global markets. Communications ought to be consistent and unified at a regional and international level \u2013 and email marketers must have the support necessary to roll out effective campaigns.\r\n\r\nLook for ways to unify functions within singular tools and technologies, and then ensure that every marketing team uses them. This will ensure that they manage and roll out campaigns in the same way: lowering costs and guaranteeing uniformity across the department.\r\nDon\u2019t hesitate \u2013 automate\r\nMinimising cost is often less about cash savings than minimising employee workload. It\u2019s therefore worth automating your email marketing journey wherever doing so is possible, legal, and straightforward. This is more easily done than you might think. By using your current customer information as a guide, you can automate emails according to their online behaviours \u2013 whether they\u2019ve registered, purchased an item, filled out a form, or otherwise.\r\n\r\nAutomation can therefore relieve much of your burden. Campaigns won\u2019t run themselves, and you will need to check in on keywords, performance, and other considerations, but the less you have to do manually, the more time you have to think \u2013 and act \u2013 strategically.\r\nFind cost-effective digital marketing tools\r\nDigital marketing tools are comprised of numerous features and functions, only some of which will be relevant to your business. Before starting any project or implementation, it\u2019s worth thinking about whether your technology has everything you need \u2013 and whether, for that matter, you need everything it has, or if you\u2019re just paying for it anyway.\r\n\r\nIf there are opportunities to find a tool that can perform certain functions more effectively, less expensively, or (ideally) both, seize them. It may be difficult to change tools or solutions, but if it will create cost savings or improve performance, it will be worth it over the long term.\r\nMaximising value\r\nMaximising value is the other ROI model. It\u2019s more suited to larger enterprises with larger budgets. The guiding principle of this model is that the money you earn today can be used to create more value in future Its purpose is not so much subsistence as growth. Each process and project should thus be about looking for opportunities to maximise value \u2013 for the business and for its customers.\r\n\r\nOf course, it can be quite difficult to know where to start. Retailers should begin with low-hanging fruit: \u2018abandoned basket\u2019 campaigns, for example, can be highly effective (provided you have the requisite opt-ins). But beyond these individual campaigns and actions, maximising value is about understanding the entire customer journey.\r\n\r\nAnd there\u2019s a reason they call it the singular \u2018customer\u2019 journey: because it\u2019s more effective to treat them as individuals than as an aggregated blob of assumed interests. Adobe Target and other tools allow you to serve content according to what customers have clicked on \u2013 improving conversion rates, for sure, but also improving their overall user experience.\r\n\r\nPersonalising and optimising campaigns in this way will maximise your value and your ROI. There is, of course, far more to maximising value.\r\nChoose your toolset\r\nBefore you set about maximising value, it\u2019s necessary to look at toolsets. There are two approaches here: the first being best of breed \u2013 wherein you select the best tools for your particular purpose, sometimes from a variety of sources \u2013 and the second being single vendor, wherein you get everything you require from one provider.\r\n\r\nBest of breed offers superior control over the technology that you use, and it\u2019s better for companies that don\u2019t operate according to traditional business models. The implementation period also tends to be less costly and time-consuming (partially because you\u2019re largely setting things up as and when they are required). If you\u2019re happy to mix, match, and manage a variety of tools (and the vendors who offer them), it\u2019s ideal.\r\n\r\nNonetheless, the best-of-breed approach can be problematic for people who aren\u2019t happy to micromanage vendor relationships and technological processes, and you do run the risk of using a number of tools that don\u2019t quite complement each other.\r\n\r\nA single vendor approach has some clear advantages: you only have to worry about one relationship, and because this vendor is providing every tool, there\u2019s usually greater synergy between the applications you use. Your vendor may not do everything perfectly at the start, but they\u2019re interested in preserving the business relationship and therefore have a clear incentive to adjust their offering to your specific needs.\r\nTest and measure\r\nRegular testing and measurement is an essential component of maximising value. For smaller sample sizes, you can stick to regular A\/B testing \u2013 where you change one element of an email such as a headline or a CTA, send it out alongside the original, and determine which is earning more conversions. With larger data pools, you can deploy multivariant tests, which change several elements at the same time: the headline, the image, the position of a button in the copy, and more. Just ensure you stay in control of the population within the test group.\r\nHarmonise data\r\nWith all the usual GDPR caveats, it\u2019s important to ensure that data is shared between departments wherever possible. Integrated, harmonised information is key to effective marketing campaigns \u2013 and you can\u2019t do that when data silos have built up across various teams. If you have information at a national and local level, for example, why not integrate it? If customer service has information that marketing can use, why not share it? Wherever possible, break down silos and consolidate information: your email marketing campaigns will benefit.\r\n\r\nWhether you\u2019re minimising cost or maximising value, it\u2019s worth nurturing your chosen ROI model. Deploy your budget in the correct ways and optimise your activity: your business \u2013 and its customers \u2013 will benefit.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBy Dirk Wybe de Jong, vice president of digital marketing at Celerity, an agency which specialises in the strategic use of data and technology to drive results.