There are five phases identified in the email lifecycle during a typical customer experience with a retailer – acquisition, conversion, growth, retention, and reactivation. During these phases, consumers receive emails that welcome them to a program, offer transactional confirmations, wish them a happy birthday, display rewards, up sell previous purchases, and attempt to win back lapsed members or disengaged email subscribers. But, over one-third of North American marketers do not personalize this lifecycle for their recipients according to eMarketer.
In this post, we will talk about the first phase of the customer email lifecycle and how retailers can use contextual email technology to improve list health, revenues, performance metrics and personalization opportunities. We will use a total of five posts to review the complete customer email lifecycle, thoroughly discuss each phase and how real-time content can improve contextual personalization throughout. Whether you are a seasoned veteran to email personalization or just starting out, read on and find something to inspire your campaign improvements.
Your subscribers and your boss will thank you for it.
Most customers experience a welcome email or an email that helps acquaint them with the company once the lifecycle begins. In the same eMarketer article, of the people who do personalize their emails, 54% have found that grouping your subscribers into lifecycle buckets helps market to loyal customers, dormant list subscribers, new customers, etc. Targeting the right message for each customer phase.
So, why not start with some new acquisition emails for 2017?
Applying Contextual Content in the Acquisition Phase
In any relationship, it is important to set up a clear form of communication that helps both parties benefit from the connection. In today’s world of email marketing, we do not always get this level of clarity from retailers. Many email subscriptions begin with a purchase and are followed up with a seemingly unsolicited email about buying more products. It seems disjointed compared to the natural flow of any other relationship, and we know now that at least a third of these campaigns do not even contain personalization – making it even less clear who the email is for.
The first steps in this for any retailer should involve a greeting, identifying yourself, and stating why they are receiving the email. Wayfair recently sent me a welcome email for signing up for their email list. It was not highly personalized, but the context and timing were perfect. This email could have benefitted from a personalized hero image using the recipient’s first name, or a welcome video. Either way, some higher level of name usage or interactive technology would have made this email perfect.
Subject Line: Welcome! Enjoy 10% OFF your next order
Uber also does a good job of welcoming the user to its platform. I signed up for Uber over the holiday season, and they welcomed me with a prompt email. My name was in the email subject line, and they immediately showed me the easiest way to request a ride using their mobile application. Straight from acquisition to conversion, without delay. The only thing this email could benefit from would be device-targeted content that shows related content for either Android or Apple devices.
Subject Line: Welcome to Uber, Rory!
Another powerhouse retailer that does a great job with email automation is Amazon. I recently tried their Echo product for my home, and the email campaign since has been pretty helpful in getting me acquainted with the voice recognition functionality. That said, for all the personalization that Alexa offers through my Amazon account, the contextual personalization of the email campaign felt off. The example here shows some very helpful content, but it has been personalized with my full name in the salutation – seems weird. Also, there are no personalized subject lines that greet me after being a member since 2009. It seems not to be an issue as much as a missed opportunity to tighten the relationship with the customer. Here is another place where an instructional video, image slider, deep link to application download page or personalized imagery could have heightened the experience for me.
Subject Line: Welcome to Alexa Shopping, a Prime-exclusive benefit
Each of the above welcome email examples does a good job of conveying value, but arguably could be more contextual in personalization. Of the three; one personalized contextually, one added my full name awkwardly, and had no personalization at all.
Which do you think of the three examples received the best results?
Contextual Email Content for Acquisition
On-boarding subscribers can be as organic as asking for an email address; some lists are purely retail with purchase-based subscription practices. Either way, the best way to welcome newcomers via email is to personalize the conversation. It is time for emails to become smarter, with richer content, and video. In the best scenario content should be contextual and data-driven using both real-time triggers and pre-existing data to deliver the most relevant content to the inbox.
Typically, when a subscriber joins a list, the marketer gets a few variables. A first name, last name, email address, address, and maybe a birthday or phone number. So, from the very first email, there can be some level of outbound personalization towards the subscriber. In conjunction with a solution like RealTime Email, personalization can be even tighter, based on variables like device type or live location. This personalization can happen in a few areas:
Video – Video is a cost-effective and engaging way to deliver marketing with personality and speed. It is the best medium for connecting with consumers of all demographics on and offline.
– Add a welcome video to the first or each email in a welcome series
– Show new subscribers how to use a product with a quick video
Social media – Bring social communities to your subscribers in real-time. Contextual email technology can render the most recent content from Instagram or any social media channel as the subscriber opens the email.
– Use live data to improve email relevancy
– Connect new subscribers with additional resources
Location-based promotions – Retailers can send location-based welcome emails and deliver accurate content for each opener based on their location. This can also be done with a live weather forecast as well.
– Deliver cold/hot weather messaging for certain temperatures
– Display all local retail locations to each subscriber
– Create contextual product advertising based on weather forecast
Measuring Success with Contextual Content
To measure contextual content success, define a benchmark from previous campaigns and measure accordingly. Depending on the type of contextual email content used different success metrics may need to be applied. For instance, a welcome/how-to video for a cloud-based software application may not increase the click rate for the welcome email, but it may improve the duration of open for the email campaign and reduce knowledge base tickets within the first week of subscription. It is very important to be mindful of the areas an email can impact on your business to measure the campaign entirely.
As always, keep testing, and happy sending!