If you want to boost email engagement, one of the best ways is also becoming one of the easiest: add video.

Video and email are a match made in marketing heaven. Everybody uses email, and more consumers are watching videos online with each passing day.

If video is so great, why doesn’t everyone use it in their emails?

The relationship between email and video hasn’t always been a smooth or lovely experience. In the past, largely technical hurdles like incompatible email browsers and spotty bandwidth have kept these channels separated.

These tech limitations made video in email a hit-or-miss experience for many viewers. And that unreliability, coupled with a hazy ROI and lack of content and production time, also turned many email marketers off the video trend.

But today, technology is catching up with the public’s growing appetite for consuming video. And it’s doing so in a way that makes the value of video in email much more apparent and trackable. Now, all it takes is a few clicks to embed videos into email and analyze the results without a single line of code or concern about platform compatibility.

A few browser holdouts are keeping video from reaching its full email potential (we’re looking at you, Gmail), but every day more and more email environments are evolving to handle video. Apple’s native desktop and iOS email clients, for example, make embedded email videos possible in Outlook across every Mac device.

Why video is worth the effort

In short, people love it. Just putting “video” in your subject line can boost open rates by six percent or more. Not to mention increase click rates by 300% and reduce unsubscribes up to 26% too. 

Especially if you’re trying to capture the attention of highly coveted Gen Z and Millennial buyers. A 2020 survey found 88% of this group watch videos for entertainment, giving the brands that take advantage of this trend a unique opportunity to engage audiences across a variety of digital and social media channels like never before. 

The lesson here: If you want to increase engagement among your younger customers (or any follower, for that matter), add video. Besides expecting it, these active video consumers are much more likely to respond to interactive messages. So why not give them exactly what they want?

It’s not as pricey or complicated as you might think. Marketers spent less than $300 on average on video in 2020. Today, cost is no excuse. You can produce a high-quality video using just a smartphone and a good ring light. And that doesn’t include the dozens of free or low-cost video production tools you can use to edit emails like a pro. 

Video can amplify other advanced personalization tactics. Video is most successful when used strategically. Your embedded email videos can draw eyes to dynamic factors such as real-time content targeting by location, time of day, and more. Ensuring your customers never open an outdated offer or out-of-stock sale alert again.

2 emails that are winning with video

Add the human element: Room & Board features live video in many of its promotional emails. In the email example below, it brings a customer’s story to life with an on-demand interview that discusses their unique experiences and most helpful advice.

video and email
Image via MailCharts

Set the tone: Videos got many homebound tourists through a year without travel in 2020. And now, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is capitalizing on both the longing to get away in luxury and the need to feel safe by including video in its emails that takes viewers on an up-close,-personal tour of its newest ships.

video and email
Image via MailCharts

Ready for your closeup?

If you’re ready to add video into your email experience, check out our How to Embed Video in Email guide. You’ll learn the basics of DIY video embedding, different ways to use video, and how to effectively experiment with your emails to improve results.

You can’t inspire customers to act if they never get your message. If you can keep emails out of the spam folder, it’s a big deal—especially if you’re investing tons of time, energy, and strategic resources into personalization.

Unfortunately, today’s email marketing ecosystem is more competitive than ever. And that means outside factors are likely working against you in your attempt to reach the inbox. Email deliverability is far from a guarantee, even for email messaging that someone has specifically requested.

The average deliverability rate for most companies falls somewhere between 83% and 88%. But if you’re sending personalized emails to thousands of potential buyers at a time, that means hundreds of sales go down the drain as soon as you click send. Not to mention all the work spent writing, designing, testing, and optimizing it, too.

If you’re not seeing at least 95% of your emails reach their target, you need to rethink your approach. Fortunately, staying out of the spam folder forever isn’t as tough as you may think. To get your emails into every customer’s inbox, start by overcoming two primary deliverability challenges: poor list hygiene and impersonal content.

The key to preventing poor email list hygiene?

Sending to a “dirty” mailing list is one of your email sender reputation’s top threats. ISPs will block your emails from ever reaching a targeted inbox if you rack up too many spam complaints, include undeliverable addresses on your list, send to long-term inactive accounts, use an ESP that appears on global blocklists, etc.

A two-step approach, however, can help you avoid these issues and keep your email lists squeaky clean:

Create personalized email content your customers love

Your sender reputation and inbox placement also takes a hit whenever unopened emails pile up in customer inboxes or get deleted right away. But there’s an easy solution: Make your messages more valuable (a.k.a personal) to your customers. That way, they’re more likely to open and click on them.

Instead of blasting one batch of undifferentiated emails out to everyone on your list, use real-time data and advanced personalization to create unique messaging. Because the closer you get to a one-on-one, conversational feel, the more likely your emails are to be successful. Whether it’s reaching the inbox or making an impact on your bottom line.

Don’t believe us? NASCAR uses an interactive “peel to reveal” function as a mystery discount to build engagement and increase sales among its birthday email recipients. And it’s a small step that’s delivering big-time business potential.

Compared to a default email, these campaigns are experiencing a 19.2% increase in CTR and a 2.9% increase in clicks. Year over year, NASCAR is increasing email conversion rates by 94% and revenue generated through personalized birthday emails by 308%!

Wrapping up

Email deliverability success is a long-haul proposition. But the steps you take today will pay off in higher revenue, stronger customer relationships, and personalized messaging that’s always in the right place at the right time.

Check out Liveclicker’s latest Email Innovators case studies to learn how advanced personalization can help you drive customer engagement through email like it already is for global brands like NASCAR, Rover, and BrandsMart USA.

Back in 1895, Italian philosopher and economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 20% of Italy’s population controlled 80% of its wealth. That ratio lives on today in business; the overwhelming majority of a brand’s sales come from their top customers. One way retailers can cement that loyalty is with post-purchase emails.

Reaching out to consumers at the point of purchase offers a powerful opportunity to make a mark. Still, many retailers miss it. Research from Support.com found that 40% of consumers believe post-purchase experiences are the most memorable aspect of the overall brand experience.

Given this consumer state of mind, a purchase is not just a purchase. It’s also an opportune moment for a trigger that helps brands increase revenue from email. Post-purchase, the brand knows something new about the customer, and should incorporate that information into their subsequent messaging strategy. Here are five tactics:

Recommend products in the first post-purchase emails

The first post-purchase emails generally arrive within minutes of a sale: order confirmations. There are also shipping updates and confirmations, as well as messaging around in-store pick-up and returns. Confirmation emails generally have far higher open rates than the average marketing email so why not capitalize on this valuable real estate with personalized product recommendations? By the time someone has made a purchase, you have an idea of what they like… and what would complement that first purchase. With advanced personalization, you can do even more with post-purchase emails, recommending products based on the customer’s local weather.

Boost engagement

Start with a thank you. Make someone feel even better about their purchase and they may be more inclined to engage further. That could mean leaving a review, downloading your app or joining your loyalty program. Once someone is a member, there are ample opportunities for personalized messaging. With moment-of-open technology, Ulta ensures that Ultamate Rewards members receive the most accurate, up-to-date loyalty information when they open the emails.

Increase incentives over time

Ten days after a sale, for example, an email could contain a personalized product recommendation that complements the item previously purchased. A month after a sale, the customer could be offered a discount. And then on day 45, he or she could be offered a more substantial discount — but only if the purchase is completed that day.

Add real-time data to post-purchase emails

Data feeds provide endless opportunity to personalize post-purchase emails. Connect email with your social media channels to feature user-generated content, giving the customer inspiration for their next purchase. You can also include live maps, which include helpful information about the customer’s nearest store such as hours and location. People frequently return online purchases in brick-and-mortar stores, so this little bit of personalization can go a long way.

Look ahead

Post-purchase messages are inherently reactive — but they don’t have to be. With predictive technology, marketers can look beyond what a customer did and tap into what they’re likely to do. Predictive technology identifies the likelihood that someone will make a purchase, including when and how much. Recommend products accordingly.

Amazon is the world’s largest retailer with a customer base that includes just about everyone. That brand loyalty, which has its own Black Friday-caliber sale each year, is massive but not so unusual in theory. Brands’ loyalty program members generate 12 to 18% more revenue per year than non-members. Of course they do. Loyal customers are the best customers with the strongest retention rates.

For the best way to reach them, look no further than email. According to iVend, 62.9% of consumers prefer to receive communications from brands via email. That makes email the perfect channel to enhance loyalty programs and nurture membership. Here are four tips:

1. Include your loyalty program in the welcome series

If someone signs up for your email list, they’re telling you that they want to hear from you. Naturally, welcome emails have sky-high open rates relative to other marketing messages. Your welcome stream is a perfect place to highlight your values and what sets your brand apart. The same applies to your loyalty program. Strike while the iron is hot and make sure your new customers know about any loyalty program perks such as free shipping and early access to new products.

2. Actually, include it everywhere

Welcome emails are a great place to highlight your loyalty program. So are… every other kind of email, even if it’s just a brief mention at the bottom of your template. If someone doesn’t know about it, they can’t participate. Make sure the customer’s status and points balance are on display on the order confirmation emails. When following up post-purchase, leverage the loyalty program perks to nurture the next sale.

3. Leverage loyalty program data to personalize

Loyalty members provide a lot of valuable data. You can see whether someone prefers in-store or online shopping and what kind of promotions appeal to them, in addition to their purchase history. Use all that data to personalize, creating the best possible experience for your most valuable customers. Loyalty programs can also fuel proactive triggered emails, reminding customers that they have rewards balances or access to special sales, or sharing recaps

4. Enhance the in-store experience

The “in-store experience” looks vastly different in 2020, which impacts brand loyalty. Surveying 5,000 consumers in September, Liveclicker and Sailthru found that 78% consider it at least somewhat important that brands have a strategy in place for social distancing and staying within CDC’s recommended guidelines. By communicating about curbside pickup options, and incentivizing customers to use them, you have the opportunity to let loyalists know that you’re taking their safety seriously.

Since nothing about 2020 has been normal, we expect to see atypical holiday shopping patterns. With a significant decline in foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores, Deloitte projects ecommerce sales to surge by 25 to 30%. As retailers rely on email during the holiday season, deliverability is more important than ever because the ISPs become more strict with filtering as senders change their audience, list size and cadence.

We have some guidance on how you can mitigate the risk of a deliverability issue with all of those factors in play.

Sender Reputation Is Key

With this influx in send volume, ISPs must make adjustments to how they accept and deliver mail. All senders are competing for more limited inbox placement, so ensuring your sender reputation is, and remains, healthy is critical.

Metrics that ISPs look at when scoring your sender reputation include:

What to Monitor to Avoid Deliverability Issues

Open rates should be consistent across the top ISPs. If one is significantly lower than the rest, you may have an inboxing issue at that top domain. Are soft bounce rates higher than usual across any major ISPs? That may mean they’re blocking your mail due to abusive metrics or poor sender reputation.

Specifically within Gmail, you can use the Postmaster Tools. If your IP and/or domain reputation dips below medium to low or bad, that is usually indicative of a sender reputation issue at Gmail, resulting in mail being filtered to the spam folder.

Other metrics to monitor to ensure you’re not at risk for deliverability issues include:

Most holiday strategies involve sending to less engaged users or users at a more regular cadence, which often results in hard bounce and complaint spikes, and decreases in user engagement. If these metrics are atypical, it’s important to ensure your delivery and inboxing aren’t impacted.

Helpful Recommendations

With holiday deliverability nuances, we have some recommendations to keep in mind during the season.

  1. Don’t introduce any new lists to your ESP.
  2. Avoid mailing older lists you have not consistently mailed.
  3. Do not fully remove suppression lists. If you want to begin sending to lesser engaged users, slowly begin well before the holiday season starts. That way, issues can be mitigated before Black Friday.
  4. Be cautious of new acquisition sources. Test them prior to the holiday season and ensure they don’t result in hard bounces and complaints.
  5. Edit your signup and opt-out pages carefully.
  6. Be careful changing your sending cadence. ISPs will penalize you for an inconsistent spike in send volume, so increases in cadence should happen slowly. Provide preferences to allow users to opt down from increased marketing.
  7. Do not change your sending domain.

Download Delivering Results to the Inbox, our sister brand Sailthru’s ultimate deliverability playbook, to learn more about all the essentials, including the complex path messages take en route to the inbox, how deliverability drives revenue, the importance of sender reputation and more.

If you think your customers don’t care about getting personalized emails from your brand, better think again. The proof is right there in the numbers, this time in a new report from Formation:

These consumers aren’t talking about the basic tactics for personalized emails like mail-merging their first names into the subject line or greeting or varying content by gender. As the study notes, “75% of consumers said the marketing emails they open frequently contain segmentation, indicating these are now table stakes.”  

That’s a solid conclusion, which concurs with findings Liveclicker reported in 2019 from a study by The Relevancy Group.

The business case for 1:1 personalized emails

That study, The Value of Personalization Optimization for Retailers, revealed the business case for advanced personalization: Every $1 you spend on advanced personalization returns at least $20 of additional revenue that’s over and above email’s already amazing ROI of $44.

But, just as basic personalization doesn’t move the needle for consumers, it won’t generate that eye-popping ROI, either. What does? The advanced personalization that shows customers you know who they are as individuals, not just records in your database.

1:1 personalized emails that are cool, not creepy

The Formation study, which studies factors that affect customer loyalty, includes a key data point not often found in personalization studies: 

Personalization tactics that increase engagement and loyalty, such as personalized emails, web sessions and location-based mobile messaging, can also turn customers off.

How you use that personalization can make or break your campaign. Meaningful personalization will increase loyalty, but failures (the dreaded “hello first-name” error, wrong locations, segments or buying/browsing history) can make customers distrust your messages and transfer those ill feelings to your brand.

The solution: Let strategy guide your choices

Personalization succeeds when it creates messages that help your customers shop more successfully, or with fewer frustrations. Start by identifying the pain points you want to address, and then look for ways you can combine real-time moment of open technology with behavior and inventory data that can help take the pain away.

Although there are dozens of ways to use this data for meaningful personalized email, the three suggestions below are all tactics you can test now to see how which can help you achieve better results in the hectic holiday months to come:

1. Real-time shipping progress: Holiday ecommerce will be bigger than ever this year, but if shippers face capacity shortages, that means packages could get delayed unexpectedly. Real-time shipping updates keep your customers in the loop and off the phone to your call centers, wondering where their goodies are.  

2. Live offer and inventory updates: Clicking on an offer in an email and then finding the promotion expired or the product is sold out isn’t just frustrating for customers – it can actually drive them to your competition, looking for a similar deal. Using time of open allows you to swap in a comparable item or substitute a new promotion for an expired one.

3. Local weather: Whether you’re able to start promoting outdoor events, you can help attendees decide whether to attend by letting them know what kind of weather to expect, using both time-of-open and location data. This data can also help you choose appropriate images or product assortments, such as promoting flannel PJs for customers in wintry climates and lighter-weight sleepwear for warmer locations.

Wrapping up

Using data creatively – but appropriately – is your key to the kinds of 1:1 personalization that customers crave and which makes them feel as if you know them without worrying that you’re looking over their shoulders constantly. Testing different levels and uses of personalization now can help you create more effective campaigns, whether you need them for day-to-day marketing or the all-important holiday months.

Email is like a digital Swiss Army knife. Sure, the actual tool has what you expect: knives that stay sharp for years. But the add-on tools, like a bottle opener, screwdriver and tweezers, help you survive everything from a battlefield to a picnic. (Thanks, corkscrew!) Email also does just what you expect: It sends important messages to your subscribers and customers. When you plug in an amazing collection of tools, you extend email’s utility and reach way beyond the inbox, creating cross-channel experiences and bringing scattered audiences together. 

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Below are six ways email can add power, connection, utility, discovery, information and value. These cross-channel experiences giving recipients more reasons to open (and reopen) your emails and buy from you instead of a competitor.

1. Add the people’s voice 

Bring in fresh content and outside voices from your social channels to give your emails added impact and inject the human touch that makes a standard campaign email more like a conversation than a sales pitch.

Besides boosting your email messages, your social channels get exposed to a new audience and the repurposed content gets a second life in email. Win-win for everybody.

2. Offer event reminders

Everybody needs a little nudge, whether it’s to show up at a major real-world game, concert or store opening or to head online to a virtual event. You can’t rely on your customers to keep opening your email to find out when and where they have to be.

An add-to-calendar function is perfect for cross-channel experiences. With just a tap or click, your customers can add your event to their calendar apps. Then, just before “go” time, they’ll get a calendar or email reminder about your event. Smooth!

3. Tap to text

People used to say that SMS and text would kill email. Turns out they link up beautifully on messages that are more effective delivered via text. A tap-to-text function lets customers reading your email on a mobile device tap a link, which automatically populates a text message with offers or other content.

Your desk-bound customers aren’t left out, either. A tap-to-text function should include device detection, which can deliver a message with instructions for joining the text program to readers on desktop or laptop browsers.

4. Create audio experiences

Email delivers more brand-building value when it can keep recipients in the message as long as possible while also giving them something to do while they’re there. Create a custom branded Spotify music playlist to promote an event and embed the live feed in your email. 

Bonus: Allow your subscribers to share your playlist with friends to gain viral exposure to untapped audiences.

5. Ask for opinions

Everybody has one (or many). Knowing what’s on your customers’ minds these days can help you tap into the zeitgeist and shape your content and message focus. You can do this two ways:

6. Show a video

It worked for your exhausted high-school teachers, and it works in today’s red-hot video climate. Adding video to email raises response and conversion rates, and new technology and email standards mean more subscribers will be able to see the video instead of a static image.

Retailers, see what you can do

Download our retail playbook for step-by-step suggestions on how you can deliver hyper-relevance, capitalize on the multichannel experience and then surprise and delight your subscribers and customers with cross-channel experiences that bring them back to your message again and again. 

Email is the workhorse for many marketing teams. According to a 2019 Econsultancy survey, email is the most effective marketing channel, while social media came in fifth. With sticky subscribers and reliable revenue, email does have a more established value than social media, but social can’t be topped for its engagement factor. Rather than determining a winner between these two channels, these differences offer the perfect case for combining them.

At a time when marketers have limited resources to create new content, social posts and user-generated content can be a welcome addition to email marketing campaigns and newsletters. Email and social media can also be used to cross-promote, creating two sticky channels that drive home important messages. What’s more, while everyone is at home and online more than usual, marketers can get creative with new forms of social engagement over email, too.

Combining email and social media creates real connections

Newsletter publishers should take a page from the digital publisher’s playbook, embedding real social media posts into their content to create more engagement. More than one-third of all article pages online now contain social embeds. From popular memes to heartwarming posts, social content adds immediate interest in an article without a lot of heavy lifting. The same is true for email newsletters, where social content can spice up a tired template.

Marketers can start by simply searching Pinterest and Instagram for well-shot images to highlight from customers and fans. ‘Wichcraft, the NYC sandwich chain, shares social posts of customers enjoying their food in their “simplest of pleasures” email campaign, which encourages some fresh air time at lunch. BistroMD uses a real-time Instagram social feed that features healthy meals customers receive as part of their plan. These examples serve as stand-ins for professionally shot content and also add a level of authenticity that’s hard to copy with slick marketing imagery.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau notes that numerous studies indicate authenticity is key for people to trust brands, and UGC is among the top-rated content online. The UGC posted on a marketer’s social channels offers a particularly important element as customers are finding their way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people are transacting online more than before, and they’re shifting their habits and brand loyalty. It’s better to be a brand that online customers can relate to than to be generic and forgettable.

The furniture retailer Made.com created a campaign in April called “Stay Grounded,” which included a collection of photos from customers’ own homes on Instagram. The photos offer the perfect mix of inspiration and authenticity. Made.com promoted it in a newsletter campaign that encourages subscribers to vote on their favorite images. The online pet- and house-sitting site TrustedHousesitters features Instagram pictures in its conversion emails to engage with potential members, particularly Housesitters. Potential customers love the inspirational pictures of pets and homes in their email campaigns, which they pair with educational messaging about house sitting and info about how TrustedHousesitters works.

Cross promotion drives engagement on both channels

Now is the time to sign people up for, well, everything. Customers are open to new online experiences in 2020, and it’s important that marketers give that to them. Many email templates fail to offer the very basics in cross promotion. 

The email footer is the easiest place to start. For example, West Elm has a nicely designed email footer with links and icons for each social channel where fans can follow, like, and share. Even better is when brands build social calls to action within the email itself or when special social instructions add more engagement. For example, L.L.Bean doesn’t ask people just to sign up for its social channels but also to add the simple but effective suggestion to “Share Your Adventures” with #BeanOutsider.

It’s also important to add email newsletter sign-up links to relevant social media posts. Marketers can repost elements of their newsletter to promote it on Instagram, for example, with a link or call-out to get more content by signing up for email. 

Social and email can also be used together to promote online events or to drive engagement in brand-new ways. Since the start of the pandemic, many marketers have had to get creative to add ways to engage with customers virtually, and email and social media can help. For example, Taubman Centers adds some extra fun to subscribers’ inboxes with Spotify playlists. GrubHub offers discounts to people that sign up for virtual concerts on their own YouTube channel with promotions in their newsletters. 

This unusual time will not last forever, but people’s habits will be changed forever. Now is the time to make an extra effort to capture new subscribers and create new ways to engage. Marketers also have a unique opportunity to forge new relationships online, when people are craving authenticity and something new. The unique value of email and social media marketing combine to help marketers make these important connections.

This article originally appeared in Street Fight.

Great email marketing isn’t a one-way street. It’s a two-way conversation between your brand and your customers, held in the privacy of the inbox. You’re probably great at holding up your end of the conversation, but where’s your customer’s voice in your messages? You can make it heard when you add customer content, like reviews, ratings, winning entries, customer images, social media comments and images.

Top 10 reasons to add customer content to your emails

There are myriad reasons why user-generated content can help you create more engaging, more effective email. Consider these as just a good starting point:

  1. Win-win: Show your customers that you value their commentary and contributions. That builds brand engagement and equity. 
  2. Community: Customer content can build community among customers with similar interests and promote your social media channels.
  3. Social proof: Reviews and ratings from peers give them the guidance and support they need to buy more confidently.
  4. Inspiration: Images and how-tos pulled from your social media, user groups or content entries show customers what other people do with your products.
  5. Partner up: Customers share the content-creation workload with you.
  6. Instant influence: Build up a market quickly for new products by sharing them with loyalty program VIPs or high-profile followers and then spotlight their comments or ratings in email. 
  7. Variety: Customer content helps you vary your message. People aren’t in the market every time you email them. Customer content can keep them interested until they’re ready to buy.
  8. Face time: Customer content humanizes your emails. If your brand is one of many in their consideration sets, having emails with a human connection can help you move to the front of the pack.
  9. Trust: Ratings, reviews, endorsements and proof of use helps build trust in your brand.
  10. Rewards: Customer content can be an easy and inexpensive way to spotlight your most engaged and influential customers.

How to find and include customer content 

Start with your user groups and social media channels like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Look at review platforms like Bazaarvoice, Qualtrics and Medallia for a steady source of customer content. But the best source is the same as it ever was – your pool of customers. Just ask them!

Automating your customer content curation

The best part is that including more UGC doesn’t have to mean a lot of extra work for your creatives and coders. In fact, it can even save you time and effort; crowdsourcing content can mean your team spends less time brainstorming and producing it themselves.

One simple way to streamline customer content curation is the implementation of an automated feed that sweeps up customer content from your website, social media channels and independent sources and then serves it in dynamic content modules in each email.  

It takes some advance work to set up rules to filter out irrelevant or unwanted content, as we explained in a recent blog about adding user reviews to emails. Once you get those in place, you just need to keep an eye on the feed and adjust it as needed.

3 Rs of customer content use

1. Keep it real. Today’s hyper-aware consumers can spot fake sentiment in a flash – and they’ll hold your brand’s feet to the virtual fire if your message strays too far from your brand identity.

2. Keep it reliable. Reviews are popular because people love to express their opinions. Many customers refuse to buy unrated products. But consumers also are getting more worried about fake reviews. A BrightLocal study found 92% of consumers ages 18-34 said they spotted fake reviews, compared with 59% of older consumers (54+). 

3. Keep it relevant. Automating a social media feed cuts your email prep time, but you must keep an eye on it to make sure the selections you include are relevant to the brand and support your email’s objectives.

3 brands doing it right

It’s not hard to find good examples of brands that have figured out how to feature customer content in their emails. That’s good because it means brands are finally seeing the value of letting their customers do their marketing for them.

But it also means that including customer content is becoming a differentiator among brands. In other words, if your customers don’t see themselves now in your messaging, they might go find a brand that does.

Below are three uses of customer content:

1. The Body Shop

This promotional email shows how to use customer content to sell a product. It draws a direct line from the product to a related customer review to the buy button. The review softens the hard sell but can still nudge customers into acting. 

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2. PetSmart

This email makes us feel warm and happy all over; and not just because PetSmart achieves an entire cat-carrier full of goals with this email:

Besides, it’s packed top to bottom with kitty and doggy pictures. What’s not to love?

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3. TripAdvisor

Reviews and ratings are standard fare for travel companies, but they’re also an area where customers are becoming skeptical about fake reviews. TripAdvisor addresses that by adding a human touch, incorporating a real headshot of each featured reviewer to add authenticity to each commentary.

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Want to see more? MailCharts curated a group of consumer emails featuring 15 premier brands at the top of their game. Each incorporates customer content differently to achieve different goals. Check it out for even more inspiration!

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 marketing 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.