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Demystifying retail marketing: how to get the most out of email

By Rita Braga Martins, email marketing consultant at Ometria

A modern marketer is a master of metrics – and none more so than those in retail. From Funnel Conversion Rates to Marketing Spend per Customer, Customer Acquisition cost to Brand Awareness, Customer Retention to overall ROI – marketers are constantly assessing and fine tuning their strategies based on their performance against these metrics. 

Balancing these metrics is not an easy task. Small shifts in one column can necessitate massive dial ups in others. And nothing sparks immediate action like a drop in sales. 

When faced with a drop in sales the response of a retail marketer is to restore balance through a quick email marketing campaign. Email is cost-effective, quick and can plug any short-term gaps in revenue. This is all true. But it is crucial to recognise that this approach can have detrimental effects in the long run for a brand. 

When email is used as a tool to blast out communications, its value is eroded. For the audience receiving the message, it becomes less useful and more annoying – and consequently much less effective. 

Email marketing is a vital tool – and so retail marketers must ensure its effectiveness isn’t diminished. Here are three ways in which retailers can protect the value of their email marketing efforts.

Protect deliverability

Deliverability is a cornerstone of effective email marketing. If your messages are filtered into the wrong inbox, or prevented from arriving at all, suddenly huge chunks of audience are lost. 

To protect deliverability, marketers must stop sending email marketing to disengaged customers. If generic emails from a brand or retailer are going unopened by too many recipients, email filters kick in and these communications become viewed as clutter, meaning they end up in the junk folder. Not only do those disengaged customers not hear from you – your engaged customers may not either, as your brand gets earmarked as a ‘bad sender’. 

Take consumers who aren’t interested in your brand off the mass mail out list. Instead, try and re-ignite the relationship with this group separately in a dedicated and specifically targeted process. 

In the meantime, plan regular email content to include a monthly communication which is far more personalised to the individual recipient. Measure the impact and engagement these achieve versus the previous campaigns to assess how personalisation changes engagement. 

Prioritise segmentation

Segmentation is essential as it allows retailers to deliver highly relevant shopping experiences for audiences. Life-long customers are often the product of the right message, with the right offer, at the right time. 

Behavioural segmentation – understanding how your customers engage with your brand from browsing to engagement to purchase – empowers marketers to make informed decisions on what audiences to engage, as well as how much they should spend on engaging them. 

At its best segmentation provides marketers with a recipe for crafting relevant communications for each consumer – dramatically improving the engagement and return on investment. 

More than this, it is what modern consumers expect. A report from Accenture found that 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. 

Use data to focus on initiatives that will get results

Covid-19 has turned all retailers’ attention to online. For most retailers – especially those direct to consumer brands selling lifestyle products like fashion, furniture and beauty – price usually cannot act as the differentiator. This makes customer experience the key battleground. 

In this climate, making the right decisions about what to prioritise, and quickly, is really important. And as one of the most prominent channels in any ecommerce marketing strategy, what they do with email will be critical. 

Technology has evolved in the email space to the point where retailers have an incredible range of options for targeting customers with personalised messages throughout their journey with the brand. While choice means marketers can take control, it can make it harder to know where to focus. Marketers must prioritise the initiatives that will drive the key results – increased customer engagement and revenue. It’s therefore important they have access to the insight and benchmarks to be able to know what initiatives to roll out first.

A modern marketer is a master of metrics – but they should not forget that every digit paints a picture of a real person. Every adjustment on a dial has a tangible impact on how your brand is experienced. ‘Batch and blast’ emails may help marketers make up for short-term sales drops, but for the long term, it’s not the best use of the channel. Personalisation and a segmentation strategy for this vital comms channel are crucial to creating the best customer experience for each individual. This is key to ensuring customers want to come back after each interaction with the brand, and will set retailers up for a stronger future and a dedicated customer base.


Rita Braga Martins is an email marketing consultant at Ometria, an AI marketing platform for retailers 

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