Email and SMS (Short Message Service) messaging are the chocolate and peanut butter of the digital marketing world. Each is great on its own. But they’re unbeatable when you pair them up in a program that uses the strengths of each channel to create a communications mix that recognizes when, where and how consumers want to be reached.

This synergy is even more important today, given the pandemic-drive move from physical to digital commerce. We don’t know whether consumers will continue to stick with digital-first for shopping. But marketers should do all they can to capitalize on this shift, and forging more cooperation between the two channels is one way to do it quickly.

What you miss with an ‘either-or’ mindset

SMS is usually touted as the ultimate email-killer. A 2020 Omnisend study credits SMS with an average 14.2% click rate and having SMS in the mix of an omnichannel campaign increases conversions by 47%
Still, email hangs on as consumers’ No. 1 preference for brand communications. Here’s why you need to create a partnership in your marketing decisions:

1. The two channels share some big benefits:

  • Real-time content based on time, location, transactions and more
  • High ROI 
  • Low barrier to entry
  • Easy to automate and personalize

2. Each channel does some things better than the other. 

The 160-character limit on an SMS message doesn’t give you much room for education and nurturing. And an emailed fraud alert or flight change might not get seen in time. That’s why you need both to serve your customers best. 

3.  Each channel can build up the other one. 

SMS to email: Send a message with a link to your preference page so they can sign up for email messages. Email to SMS: Add a tap-to-text function to your email that lets customers opt in to SMS with just a few taps. 

Both of these help you widen your contacts with your audience and give them more options to stay in touch with you. Win-win for everyone.

Caution: Remember “WIIFM!” Figure out ahead of time how each program fits into your messaging plan, and tell customers up front what you’ll send and when and why it benefits them to opt in. That’s the WIIFM, or “What’s In It For Me?”

How email and SMS can work together

You can probably come up with dozens of use cases to join up email and SMS that benefit everybody. For example, Thrive Market, an online grocery retailer and Sailthru customer, uses email and SMS in tandem. If someone hasn’t engaged with email, Thrive Market tries to reach them via SMS.

Here are three tactics that you can test and implement quickly:

1. Create a new engagement segment.

If you already ask for mobile phone numbers along with email addresses (that is, you ask specifically for a mobile number and not a general number), run a query to see whether customers who provide both are more likely to buy or use your services. If your query pans out, target them for special treatment in high-traffic periods like holidays or travel high seasons to increase propensity to purchase.

2. Use tap-to-text to contact customer support.

Your email can become another port of entry for customers who need to contact customer support. Add tap-to-text to open an SMS conversation with a customer agent to resolve problems like missed deliveries, rescheduling services, travel hiccups or order errors. Or use tap-to-text to encourage subscribers to opt-in to another form of communication.  A leading brand in the travel industry gained over 1600 opt-ins in 24 hours by implementing tap-to-text with Liveclicker.

3. Combine email and SMS in retargeting sequences.

Abandoned-cart reminders are a natural place to start. Add an SMS alert to your abandoned-cart email series if a product in the cart is about to sell out or go on sale. If you don’t maintain perpetual carts, alert via SMS before you close out the cart. Test to see which actions are better suited for email or SMS. 

Final thought: Set up your SMS strategy before you start sending texts 

Nobody wants a mobile phone that buzzes or pings every five minutes. Decide which messages are suitable for the always-on immediacy of a text and which need email and its richer information environment. It takes less time to type “STOP” on a text than to find and click an unsubscribe link.

Until recently, marketers have been able to reliably look at past holiday performance as a strong starting point to build their email strategy for the next. But this year? Not so much.

Retailers and researchers alike have scrutinized consumer behavior closely since March, looking for trends and changes in shopping patterns. This report title from WARC, based on panel data and insight from media firm Meredith, sums up the general direction of most of the research so far: “Meredith predicts consumers will use e-commerce to drive an earlier, quieter 2020 holiday season.”

The 10 statistics below show a combination of two big trends: Consumer behavior shifted significantly in the first seven months of 2020, but marketers can still base their planning on a few fundamentals. 

1. 48% of holiday shoppers expect to spend less to “a lot less” than last year. Nonretail services like dining out will be affected most. (Coresight

2. One-third of holiday shoppers expect to do their shopping on Amazon Prime Day, which is expected to be in October. Another 28% said they will start their holiday shopping earlier than usual, 18% said they would shop on Black Friday (Coresight)

3. The proportion of consumers avoiding any kind of public places, especially malls and shopping centers, spiked to 85% in late July, reversing a gradual decline (Coresight). 

4. 73% of holiday shoppers will purchase primarily online this holiday (Netimperative/Rakuten).

5. More than 72% of consumers believe the 2020  holidays will be different from past years. (WARC/Meredith)

6. 50% of consumer families have someone concerned about a job. More than a third of them have already experienced some loss of income. (WARC/Meredith)

7. July, August and September have the highest rates of shopper interaction with customer reviews, photos, and questions and answers as they research gifts online. (NetImperative/BazaarVoice)

8. October is the month when shoppers are most likely to submit reviews and questions as they intensify their gift shopping. (NetImperative/BazaarVoice)

9. Retailers’ loyalty-program members generate 12% to 18% more revenue for retailers than non-member customers (Accenture Interactive).

10. 36.4% of consumers say they don’t consider themselves brand loyal until they’ve made five or more purchases from a brand, and 36.5% of shoppers said they will spend more on products if they’re loyal to a brand.  (Yotpo).   

What now? How to act on new insights

Most of the evidence points toward an unpredictable, difficult holiday season for email marketers, right at a time they’re under more pressure than ever to drive results and make up for lost time. Creative, innovative measures will be needed to stand out in a crowded inbox, keep revenue flowing, and stay essential to your team.

Download the 2020 Holiday Email Lookbook for ideas and inspiration to update your email strategy for a new kind of holiday season. You’ll get actionable tips and examples to help you pursue revenue growth, engagement, and efficiency when it’s needed most.

Amazon’s decision to delay Prime Day extravaganza to October could throw a wrench into retail marketers’ Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns, threatening to steer holiday spending away from the traditional Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza.

The Prime Day challenge, plus surveys showing nearly half of U.S. consumers expect to spend less on holiday shopping and a significant share remain skittish about in-store shopping, mean marketers must engage customers more creatively to compete and win in this highly unusual and uncertain holiday season.

5 tactics for Black Friday and Cyber Monday email marketing 

Many marketers are counting on a record-breaking holiday season this year to make up for lost time. Make a few core adjustments and adaptations to set your email program up for success during the peak of the holiday shopping season.

1. Anticipate the Prime Day challenge

Coresight research shows one-third of consumers will do their holiday shopping on Amazon Prime Day (which could land in early to mid-October and run as long as a week), while only 15% said they would shop on Black Friday instead.

It’s a problem because Prime Day shoppers might end up with less money to spend on Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions or have finished most of their holiday spending. 

Delivering a better customer experience with advanced personalization and real-time data can help marketers recapture shopper attention by the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around six to eight weeks later. Adopt flexible tactics like:

2. Double down on loyalty

Loyalty programs are rich sources of data that marketers can use to keep members’ eyes focused on their stores and websites with some clever messaging strategies:

3. Stress convenience and safety of local store shopping 

Coresight research also shows that consumers are once again avoiding public spaces like shopping centers and malls as COVID-19 cases rise again. 

It’s too soon to predict what will happen when the holiday shopping quarter begins on Oct. 1. However, marketers can use email to explain how they keep customers and employees safe in their stores and what services they offer, like curbside pickup and BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) for time-pressed or cautious customers.

Besides this content – which can also explain mask requirements, sanitation, and store layout changes to reduce time spent online – marketers can use dynamic content modules that contain late-breaking news, such as sudden changes in hours or open locations. 

Adding a map or store address of the nearest open location can keep foot traffic going to the right stores and reduce shopper frustration.

4. Get on your customers’ calendars

Whether it’s an in-store VIP event or a major promotion online, an add-to-calendar function lets customers add the date to their phone or desktop calendars and then generates a reminder just before the event happens. 

This is a big bonus because the reminder comes from the calendar—appearing on the desktop or the phone lock screen—and keeps the big day from getting blitzed by wall-to-wall Prime Day promotions in the inbox.  

5. Keep email content up to date and accurate with real-time inventory data and moment of open technology

An October Prime Day might pull inventory as well as spending forward six to eight weeks. That, along with supply chain disruptions, can lead to shortages and out-of-stocks for Black Friday Week promotions.

Marketers can use dynamic content powered by real-time data to swap out-of-stock promotions for in-stock merchandise, even after sending the email. Moment of open technology refreshes email content automatically whenever the customer opens the message—another way marketers can reduce frustration and increase conversions.

The real benefit of advanced personalization: Resilience and reliability

There’s no doubt that 2020 is testing retailers like never before. But marketers who connect with their customers on deeper levels and offer them more than just a deep discount, who reduce barriers and frustration and build trust and reliability will be the ones who come out on top when the world rights itself again. Get actionable inspiration to shape your own email strategy for success through BFCM and beyond in the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook.

Download your free copy now!

The Beauty industry has a long history of resilience and providing comfort in difficult times. As far back as the Great Depression, people who couldn’t afford expensive treatments could still often pop for Tangee or Max Factor lipsticks for a little help feeling special. 

This “lipstick effect” holds true in 2020 as the $75 billion U.S. beauty industry scrambles to make up losses during the coronavirus pandemic. DIY and self-care purchases have helped push online beauty sales up 20% to 30% over 2019, according to McKinsey, after most retail outlets closed.

The digital surge alone won’t be enough to make up the losses from store shutdowns and lower traffic to essential businesses, McKinsey projects. However, the move to digital could signal a long-lasting change for the beauty industry, where up to 85% of beauty sales happened in stores previously.

That’s why marketers must be ready to use all the digital channels at their disposal to stay connected with customers, today and in the future when retail operations begin to ramp up again. In particular, email’s cost-effectiveness and flexibility makes it a prime medium to serve as the foundation for digital relationship building.

Beauty marketers looking for advice can turn to a new Liveclicker guide, Preparing for the New Normal in Beauty: Preparing and Scaling Digital Customer Communications, for quarter-by-quarter strategies, campaign guidance and a new set of best practices that will help them respond effectively when customers are ready to return.

Will customers come back to stores to shop beauty?

Unlike the Depression or the 2008 recession, today’s “Great Cessation” is a double whammy: an economic crisis driven by a health crisis. “Business as usual” is a long way off, and we might not fully return to pre-pandemic conditions for some time, if ever. 

“Be prepared to adapt your hard-earned brand voice. Beauty products have long enjoyed a status as a fun, accessible indulgence, but even as commerce picks up, customers will be watching their money much more closely,” the guide advises.

Strategies and content must evolve

As a beauty marketer, you must be prepared to switch up messages as conditions warrant – especially in an environment that changes so fast. Email is ideal for this because you can get your messages in front of your customers quickly and tailor them by regions where conditions might vary.

Near-term: Use email to keep customers in the loop about store policies on safety, managing returns, gift cards or loyalty points that expired while stores were closed, delivery or supply disruptions (see the example below), options for low- or no-contact deliveries and payment and other key issues. Look for ways to build trust with new customers and maintain it with long-time and loyal buyers.

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Longer term: The months leading up to the holiday shopping can be a time to clear out inventory that built up in slower months. Acknowledge that many customers still face economic hardship. Explain how customers can shop in-store, online, in an app or by phone. 

This Tarte email promotes the payment plan AfterPay with the subject line: “for when you’re on a budget💸💸💸.” 

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Download your copy of Preparing for the New Normal in Beauty: Preparing and Scaling Digital Customer Communications for more strategies like these, along with detailed holiday season guidance.

Follow new best practices to communicate with confidence

The changes we’ve gone through since March mean your traditional beauty industry marketing playbook now needs a total makeover. The best advice? “Assume nothing.” 

The “new normal” of the moment has generated several new best practices, like these:

Adopt advanced personalization and moment-of-open content

Although no one’s certain yet what life will be like in the next year or so, the best advice is to remain flexible. Advanced personalization and real-time content combined with email allow you to pivot your messages swiftly, using customer data and moment of open technology. 

One example: notifying local customers about a store opening. Many retailers will roll out store openings gradually based on local conditions. Create emails that adapt to location data to let customers in a specific store’s market area know the store is open and what to expect when they get there. 

Wrapping up

Nobody says navigating these next month will be easy as we watch how the pandemic moves and where economic recovery is advancing or lagging. McKinsey even suggests we might not begin to see a recovery until early 2022. 

In this environment, tools that allow your email strategies to turn on a dime if conditions change suddenly and scale up personalization to keep communications meaningful and relevant are no longer “nice to have.” They’re an essential part of a modern email program that puts customers first – something that is more important than ever today and on into the future.

Video is everywhere these days, and not just on your phone or TV. (Nothing like watching the news while you pump gas!)

One place video isn’t as prominent as it could or should be is in email. In some ways, the inbox represents the final digital frontier of widespread video ubiquity. But evolving technology and delivery tactics can help more email marketers harness the engaging, eye-catching power of video, too.

Why video is so compelling

Even marketers who are devoted to the written word can’t deny that video grabs attention and can drive engagement (opens and clicks) and conversions:

What’s keeping video out of email?

Tech and user issues are the main obstacles preventing video content from taking over the inbox.  

Some email clients that don’t support embedded video will display a big black rectangle instead. Even the next best alternative – showing an animated GIF or a static image with a clickable “play” button instead of the video – may eject the reader out of the email to watch the clip on the website. That means lower view rates and less time spent in the email.

Video can make the message file so large that the email client will clip it, forcing the reader to click to see the whole message. Some ISPs block messages if their file sizes exceed their limits, and mobile users may also have trouble with large files on their network (not to mention complaints about data usage).

Today’s dynamic email content platforms are capable of resolving or mitigating these tech and rendering issues by detecting and displaying the method – embedded videos, animated GIF or static image – the user’s client will support. For instance; only 3% of Liveclicker embedded video recipients see just a static image, while 40% can view the embedded video.

Experiment-worthy: live streaming and sharable social video

Online video continues to evolve, generating a flurry of developments and use cases. Not all are suitable or practical for email right now, but two show definite promise without requiring massive infusions of budget or an entire creative staff. In some cases, all you need is your phone and some fans!

1. Live video streaming

Need some numbers to show how livestreaming has gone mainstream? Here you go:

All this means is that many of your email readers know about and are open to viewing livestreamed content in your email. You won’t have to explain what it is or why it’s worth their time to watch your live event. Big, recognizable brands like Facebook, Instagram and the Super Bowl have done it for you already.

Use it in email to showcase an event: Livestream a product launch, unboxing or contest reveal. Create a library of tutorials or demos. Stream a press conference, as LG did at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. Any event with FOMO potential can become an engagement magnet.

Harley-Davidson used video to launch its 2019 fall FXRG Collection clothing line:

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2. TikTok social video

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are so-o-o-o 2018! Well, no, they’re still relevant. But now you can add TikTok to the lineup of social media channels whose content could cross-pollinate to email.

With 500 million users worldwide, (188 million TikTok app downloads in 2019 alone), chances are good some of them are in your email database if you appeal to a Generation Z demographic

This is prime UGC marketing material. Use it in email to expand your reach, reward your fans and put your customers’ faces and voices (and bizarre antics) in your emails. 

TikTok is the newest short-form social video platform, and one that’s stealing Gen Z users away from other video channels. Marketers are beginning to investigate for its potential to sell to that key audience, but, as with so many other social channels, most are still trying to figure out how to use the platform.

Mainstream brands like Macy’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill and even the Washington Post are on TikTok. But some of the most interesting uses of TikTok come from non-marquee brands, like NYX, which embeds a fan’s TikTok video in a business-as-usual email:

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Before you dive into video … 

Have a sound business reason to use it and the technology to provide a good experience for your readers. Video for video’s sake does you no favors. How does it fit into your broader strategy, and can it help you achieve your email or business goals?

Be sure you have the technology that can give your readers a good experience. Usability studies say you have only a short window – from less than 60 seconds to 90 seconds at most – before viewers will abandon a spotty stream.

A dynamic email platform content platform capable of seamlessly embedding video into emails will help you get over those rough spots and give your readers yet another avenue to love your emails.

Personalization done right delivers big benefits for consumers and email senders alike.

The word (and the trend it represents) is getting plenty of attention in the press as the second decade of the millenium winds down. And it zoomed to the top of the newsfeeds recently when it beat out “equality and inclusion,” “data,” and “in-house” as the 2019 Marketing Word of the Year in the Association of National Advertisers’ annual membership survey.

More star turns for personalization in 2019

Below are five quick takes on personalization – in general or specifically on email personalization, which is our particular wheelhouse – this year:

1. Marketers are finally getting behind advanced personalization. 

A Merkle study turned up these findings:

2. Advanced personalization pays off. 

Real-time, clickstream and live inventory data, rules-based personalization and dynamic offers based on open times can drive an additional $20 of revenue for every $1 invested in these methods of advanced personalization, according to a study by The Relevancy Group, commissioned by Liveclicker.

3. Email is the most commonly personalized marketing channel. 

A study by CMS platform developer Acquia found about 75% of marketers send personalized emails, while 53% personalize website visits.

4. Marketing personalization skills = jobs. 

About 1,250 jobs on LinkedIn alone are waiting for marketers with personalization knowledge and skills. It’s encouraging to see companies recognize the need to dedicate at least one marketing position to personalization – and we anticipate even more specialized personalization roles finding their ways into marketing departments and agencies in the coming years.

5.  Email personalization is trending. 

Our friends at Campaign Monitor dug into the personalization trend and came up with 10 surprising statistics on email personalization, including this one, via Instapage: “Segmented, personalized and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.”

Scrutiny, skepticism on the rise

Not everybody has the same view of personalization, current or future. In particular, Gartner has recently published some contentious research:

Others also turned a skeptical eye on marketing personalization: 

Consumers pull back on personal data. Consumers are more willing to reveal gender, race/ethnicity and marital or job status and even political or religious affiliations than their personal email addresses to get personalized ads, an Advertising Research Foundation survey found. 

In that survey, 90% of consumers would reveal gender in exchange for personalization, but only 51% would share their personal email addresses.

Personalization isn’t always appreciated. An eMarketer analysis of personalization studies by McKinsey and others concluded consumers balk at the kinds of personalized messages marketers believe they really want. 

“Marketers, especially digital marketers, love data and the promise of optimization it holds,” eMarketer’s Nicole Perrin said. “But … it doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are perceiving those messages as personalized and highly relevant.”

Advanced personalization has a bright future

Despite these cooling views on personalization, there’s other evidence that supports our optimistic view.

Not the same old personalization. Half of the respondents in the McKinsey study said messages about products that relate to their interests were the most appealing personalized content. First-name personalization was among the least appealing.  

This last point dovetails with a finding from The Relevancy Group’s study: Email personalization is least effective when it relies on only first-name or subject-line personalization. 

Personalization based on purchase data was more effective at driving additional revenue, but only the most advanced forms of personalization produced the highest ROIs. (See The Value of Personalization Optimization for Retailers and download your own free copy.) 

Technology is easier to implement. Gartner’s dim view of personalization rests in part on this finding:

“While personalization comprises 14% of the marketing budget, more than one in four marketing leaders cite technology as a major hurdle to personalization.”

The Relevancy Group addresses that problem in its report: 

“Most Advanced Personalization Solutions are rather easy to implement and often do not require significant IT support.”

Don’t forget the gatekeepers

B2B marketers have a compelling reason to get personalization right. Chatbots and automated services will replace human assistants to B2B customers, says Lynda Partner, VP Marketing and Analytics as a Service for Pythian.

“I don’t think we’re going to be talking to all that many people by 2025,” she says. “We’ll instead be talking to their personal assistants, who are bots. These bots will be the new gatekeepers. They’ll decide whether your prospect should read this email from you, or that message from someone else instead. 

This decision may be based on how personalized the message is, or how relevant it is to what they were searching for on the web in the last three weeks, or what they told their bot they were interested in researching. Either way, marketers are going to have to figure out how to market to bots and not just to people.”

Wrapping up

Personalization is enjoying a well-deserved moment in the spotlight, but it’s more than just the word of the year or the trend of the decade. Personalization that carries out business strategies using meaningful data drives revenue and interactions that more than repay the cost of the technology that drives it. 

In 2020 and beyond we look forward to showing marketers the value that advanced personalization produces both for their customers and their marketing programs.

According to new analysis based on groundbreaking research on marketing personalization, email marketers are getting creative about surviving in the Age of Amazon, Whether they go up against the ecommerce behemoth in head-to-head competition or work to gain traction on Amazon’s own platform retailers are finding new ways to compete on the basis of relevance.

These retailers aren’t just using personalization for the sake of personalization, like merging a first name into subject lines or the body copy. 

Instead, today’s shoppers look for a superior experience with a brand on the major touch points, from the website, to email updates to in-store contacts. And, retailers are listening.

Delivering “a more relevant and enriching customer experience” is the No. 1 tactic retailers are using to compete successfully with Amazon, and advanced personalization is one of the tools retailers use to make it happen.

Advanced personalization uses data and automation to add localized and real-time data to regular email messages. This gives campaign emails the immediacy and appeal of transactional messages. They tell your customers that they aren’t just email addresses in a database – you know them as people.

First: 2 Tactics to Steal from Amazon

Personalization is one of the areas where marketers think they can get an edge on Amazon, as our report explains. The ecommerce giant “hasn’t recently shown dramatic advances in personalization, and not in advanced personalization technologies.”

But Amazon does have two email tricks that are worth testing in your own email program:

Personalized customer newsletters. These aren’t Amazon’s usual browse-session follow-up emails. Instead, Amazon sends its Kindle Unlimited users personalized emails designed to encourage them to rent and buy more books and to continue paying for the service. 

The newsletter features in-depth information about authors on the member’s rental, browse and wish lists and suggests other reads – some paid, others that the membership fee covers. Other newsletters, such as those sent to Amazon Prime members, don’t have the same depth of personalized content. 

4 Email Tactics to Contend With Deep-Pocketed Competitors

1. Reassuring package-delivery notice: Do you worry about porch pirates making off with your online orders? Your customers do, too. You can help them  feel more secure by letting them know when their packages are delivered, not just when they leave your warehouse.

This notice from adidas is a follow-up to an earlier shipping notification. It goes out within a few minutes of delivery and includes both package contents and tips on resolving issues, including exchanges and delivery problems.

Bonus tip: Add detail to the subject line: This subject line from Woot! merges the delivered item into the subject line so your customer can see right away what’s in the delivery: “Rejoice! Your Apple 60W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter Has Been Delivered!”

2. Gamified data reports: CVS sends this monthly spending report to members of its loyalty program. But it raises the stakes by turning the report into a game by showing customer progress from one tier to the next. The email also includes an incentive (more Extra Bucks discounts) and suggestions on how to spend them – two moves that encourage shoppers to go back to their store and buy again.

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3. Real-time weather triggered email: Using location data to generate email copy and trigger emails is one way to add relevance and build store traffic. You can add a map to an email or nearest store address to an email. Or, you can use location data to pull weather data and get out ahead of local events.

This email from a movie theater chain took advantage of a major winter storm forecast that affected several cities in its market to promote movie attendance. It sounds like a contradiction, but anybody who lives in snow country will tell you that snow might cancel school, but malls and movie theaters are usually still bustling.   

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4. App-email connection: This ecommerce personalization example looks like your typical abandonment email. But it isn’t.  

Instead of triggering after an abandoned browse session, this email popped into a shopper’s inbox after she scanned a product in-store using her Target mobile app. Although she checked out a cartload of products, the candle she browsed stayed on the shelf. The email beat her home! 

If you want to go for a seamless customer experience, this email can help you bridge the gap between the app and the inbox. Add some context that shows your customers why they’re gettng the email to make an even stronger impression.

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You’ll learn more effective tactics that marketers are using successfully to compete with Amazon in our report, Using Personalization to Win in the Age of Amazon. Download it and share with your team!

There’s a lot to be learned from the past and the experience of others—building off their successes and learning from their mistakes. In this 2 Wins and a Fail blog series, we’re inviting clients, partners, friends and thought leaders to share their email marketing stories; both good and bad.


In this edition, we’re speaking with the CRM + Email experts from Tinuiti, an award-winning marketing agency that partners with brands to deliver strategy, management, and results across their entire digital business.

Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team works with brands of all sizes to scale their email marketing programs and drive results. Their ecommerce clients cover a diverse mix of industries and come with varying levels of sophistication in their email marketing programs, meaning there’s few things in the email marketing industry the Tinuiti team of email strategists haven’t encountered. But even the experts aren’t perfect. Two of these email marketing strategy examples generated positive results for Tinuiti’s partners, while one didn’t go exactly as planned.

Win #1: Live Content: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Abby Siciliano, Senior Strategist

A common pain point for brands trying to scale their email marketing programs can be summed up in one word: bandwidth. So when Headline Shirts was looking for new and innovative ways to bring content to subscribers at scale, Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team instantly thought of live content.

“Coupling the goals and live content together, we created exactly what the email program needed.”

The cheeky t-shirt brand wanted to create content to show off their designs and keep up with their new release production schedule. So, Senior Strategist Abby Siciliano set out to find the right tool to support this enhancement with the following goals:

  1. Create evergreen content that required minimal maintenance from send to send.
  2. Engage subscribers with new and exciting content focused on their unique product designs.
  3. Drive revenue!

CRM & Email Senior Strategist, Abby Siciliano summarized the project: “Coupling the goals and live content together, we created exactly what the email program needed.” 

Email Anatomy Breakdown:

The new arrivals live content email is made up of 3 parts:

  1. A static header and footer section that outlines every campaign for strong and recognizable branding.
  2. An easy-to-update hero image boasting the NEW ARRIVALS message.
  3. Dynamic content that pulls in images from the brand’s new arrivals category on their website.

Leveraging the Live Scrape functionality from Liveclicker, Tinuiti was able to pull in the top new arrivals directly from headlineshirts.net with ease. Now, Headline Shirts has evergreen, reusable content that updates upon open – eliminating the need for additional bandwidth to update before every send. With some simple seasonal tweaks, they’re able to keep this content fresh and engaging while driving strong revenue.

Since launching, this campaign was consistently a top 3 revenue-driver for the program month after month.

Key takeaways:

Win #2: A Little VIP Treatment Goes A Long Way

Stacy Strom, Senior Strategist

In the day and age of tech-savvy shoppers, customers have more options than ever and are shopping around more frequently. While Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team is no stranger to a variety of customer retention methods, they’ve had to get creative for clients that don’t have the funds and resources to pull off the most ideal of strategies – a loyalty program.

Loyalty programs provide a tried and true method of retaining customers and growing brand affinity, even when competitors may be lower priced or more convenient. These programs fulfill the need for customers to feel like they are being rewarded for spending hard-earned dollars with a company. Unfortunately, these programs can come with a steep price tag for businesses, both monetarily speaking and when considering the resources required to maintain the technical integrations involved.  

“Two retail clients in particular saw an incremental $10K in revenue for the month from VIP targeted campaigns.”

Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team devised a plan to test the loyalty waters with several clients through clever segmentation and creative approaches that didn’t come with any additional cost. 

“Through the use of VIP treatment in email marketing campaigns, we were able to prove the value of a loyalty program for our clients,” says Stacy Strom, Senior Strategist and lead for a variety of clients at Tinuiti. “We’ve tested this concept in a variety of ways for several clients and all have produced incremental revenue and growth in LTV for customers. Recently, two retail clients in particular saw an incremental $10K in revenue for the month from VIP targeted campaigns.”

VIPs can be defined in a number of ways: frequency of purchases, frequency of engagement with marketing campaigns, acquisition source, total spend, etc. and should be based off of your business’s goals and benchmarks for performance. For retail clients, Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team has seen great success with basing VIP segmentation on a combination of purchase history and engagement frequency. With Tinuiti’s approach to this concept, you can provide almost all the perks of a typical loyalty program without the point liability that could impact profit margins. 

So how do you show your VIPs red-carpet treatment without paying for a loyalty platform? With careful timing of promotions, VIP early access to sales, and VIP sale extensions. These give customers that are frequently engaged a sense of exclusivity and special treatment. This is executed through simple versioning of email creative; from headlines changes to call out “just for you” to subject line updates that use “exclusive access” to entice opens to elevated creative that uses richer color palettes such as gold and black.  

Overall, this approach has led to great success across a variety of clients. With the most successful of these, Tinuiti’s CRM &+ Email team has even launched versioned triggered campaigns based on VIP segmentation for successful programs such as Post Purchase, Browse Abandon, and Cart Abandon. These programs have seen not only strong revenue performance, but also an average lift of 20% in engagement rates compared to those without VIP treatment. 

Key Takeaways:

The Fail: Email Drives Traffic That Can’t Convert

Mandi Moshay, Associate Director

While Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team strives to operate as an extension of their clients’ internal teams, the nature of the client-agency partnership doesn’t always lend itself to the immediate exchange of information. Such was the case when one of the agency’s long-time partners, an online lingerie retailer, had an issue with their website that was causing the submission of orders to time out.

“In client service there’s no time to dwell on what might’ve been, so our team quickly pivoted toward potential paths forward to recoup lost revenue and rebuild trust with the impacted customers.”

By the time the issue was identified and the client was able to notify their Tinuiti team, that morning’s email had already deployed. The message, highlighting the release of a new seasonal collection, began driving traffic to a site that could not process orders, diminishing the anticipated return on the email campaign and upsetting potential customers.

“It’s a frustrating experience,” said Mandi Moshay, Associate Director and lead strategist on the account. “Once you deploy an email campaign, it’s out there and there’s no taking it back. But in client service there’s no time to dwell on what might’ve been, so our team quickly pivoted toward potential paths forward to recoup lost revenue and rebuild trust with the impacted customers.”

The Tinuiti team immediately knew an apology email was in order. “Any time the purchase process is interrupted – whether due to a broken link or site error – we strongly consider an apology email, both to let the customer know how sorry we are for the negative site experience, and to motivate them to come back and complete their purchase once the issue has been resolved.” Mandi and team began strategizing with the client on the best approach to take once the order submission issue was resolved. 

After agreeing on an incentive of 20% off for impacted customers, the Tinuiti creative team set to work to quickly turn a banner that could be added to the top of that morning’s email creative, conveying the apology and the promotion. To control margin, the Tinuiti team recommended only mailing to contacts who had clicked through the original email and were potentially exposed to the checkout error. Finally, an eye-catching subject line and preheader were drafted to grab the attention of affected subscribers and get them back in the mood to shop.

Fortunately, this fail turned into a win after the apology email was deployed and generated a 66% open rate (compared to a program average of ~15%), and drove nearly 4x times the revenue/delivered of the brand’s standard product launch campaigns. The total revenue between the original message and the apology exceeded product launch averages by 65%!

Key Takeaways:

If you’ve got it, haunt it, and these brands have it! We compiled some of our favorite RealTime Email Halloween campaigns for you, and they’re scary good.

Check them out … if you dare!

Busch Gardens

Subject: Last Weekend To Face The Frights

Busch Gardens Halloween Email

Busch Gardens sent out this scream-worthy email promoting its various haunted houses. When the recipient clicks on or hovers over the logos, an animated GIF promoting the haunted house plays. This strategy can be a good way for brands to put more content in their email in a way that is a good interactive experience for the recipient. See for yourself…

Busch Gardens Halloween Haunted House

Aerie

Subject: Saves end TODAY! 31% off the Aerie Collection

Lingerie retail company Aerie promoted their Halloween sales event with a ghostly countdown timer encouraging recipients to shop before the promotion on holiday-specific merchandise ends. Once the time expired, an image let openers know the deals were over, but provided a link to shop anyway to deliver a seamless customer experience. Those “witches” will learn to act more quickly next time….boo!

Morrisons

Subject: Inside: A spooktactular offer for loyal customers this Halloween…

Morrisons Halloween

Morrisons created a creepy animated GIF that personalizes to the recipient’s time of open. The email shows “Good Mwahahafternoon” in the afternoon, “Have a fangtastic evening” in the evening, and the “Happy Halloween” image will show at all other times. A great way to make subscribers want to come back to see how it changes!

 

H-E-B

Subject: Don’t Be Scared! Get Your 3-Day Candy Deal

Halloween Forecast

Supermarket chain H-E-B included a real-time local weather forecast in their Halloween promotional email to help customers plan for trick-or-treating. A helpful feature and a great personalized connection point for recipients. I know I’ll be checking back to see how I should dress tonight!

Subject:  Bone-Chilling Coupons: $6 off Halloween Goodies

H-E-B Halloween Full

In another promotional email message, H-E-B embedded live video to entice customers with a delicious dessert recipe. Reports state that adding video to email can boost click rates up to 300%, so it’s a good strategy to engage subscribers. (MarTech Advisor)

 

Interested in seeing more creative holiday campaign ideas? Download our Holiday LookBook for all the inspiration you need.

 

School buses. Football games. Shorter days and changing temperatures. All proof that summer is officially over.

For many marketers, this change of seasons means it’s time to start planning holiday campaigns and related marketing activities (if they haven’t already).

Yet it may be hard to get started. It seems like each year it becomes more challenging to create holiday campaigns that will truly stand out, engage customers and prospects in a meaningful way, and most important, produce results that truly move the needle.

If you’re feeling this way, we have the perfect resource to help you out of your creative rut: our brand new Holiday LookBook.

This valuable resource gives you a detailed look at some of our clients’ successful holiday email campaigns. In it, we break down each email sample to analyze the individual tactics that contributed to the campaign’s overall success, including real-time, interactive content based on moment-of-open data and the concept of using email as a profile-building tool.

While we would never promote stealing, especially anything holiday-related, we encourage you to “borrow” some of the ideas in these real-world examples or use them for inspiration for your own holiday campaign.

Avoid the “same old” approach with personalization innovations

The Holiday LookBook also gives many examples of how real-time personalization tools can create advanced experiences customers love. These result in powerful, engaging emails featuring live polls, embedded videos, countdown timers, scratch-and-reveal promotions, maps, and so much more. Like the old saying goes, the only limitation is your imagination.

Get creative!

The book also shows how creative marketers are thinking beyond traditional holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ll see great ideas related to Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and others.

In one example, Chico’s even made up their own holiday – “United Against Ironing Week.” This great concept let Chico’s bond with customers over the idea that we all work too hard and could benefit from a week off from at least one activity. It also helped the retailer promote a wrinkle-free collection during this fictitious holiday week. Yet by striking a sympathetic tone, the campaign connected with consumers in a way they didn’t expect, leading to better results than a standard email promotion.

Holiday Lookbook Chicos

There are more examples, but we don’t want to ruin the surprise. To see them all yourself—and get a creative spark for planning your own holiday campaigns—download the Holiday LookBook now.

One additional “gift” for you: The Holiday LookBook is an excerpt from Liveclicker’s “Real Examples. Real Impact. A Guide to Real-Time Email Personalization Every Marketer Should Follow.” You can download this complete LookBook here for even more ideas.

Happy holiday planning!