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.

Email marketers are under tremendous pressure right now to perform, while at the same time facing tightening budgets and shrinking resource pools. That means it’s never been more important to get the most possible value out of every campaign, and take steps to make production more efficient.

This includes a core component of every good email marketing program: testing.

Testing is important for effective email marketing because you can see whether you’re investing your time and budget wisely. But traditionally marketers have had to wait hours – sometimes days or even weeks – before you find out which variable of your test generates the results you want. That means you can’t apply your findings until the campaign is over, often well after those insights would have been most helpful (in that campaign!).

Testing + dynamic content = faster, better results

You can solve both problems when you join A/B testing with dynamic content in an astonishingly simple, yet powerful, combination. Here’s how it works:

You set up a typical A/B test comparing two versions of creative: hero headlines, CTA buttons, product features…whatever you want to compare performance. But here’s the important part—when adding the creative to your email code, you make sure to do it as dynamic content (content that can be changed and adjusted at any time).

Then deploy the campaign as normal, and wait for the opens to start. Once a statistically significant winner is determined, the testing platform automatically swap in the winning content for all recipients—even those that already received, or even opened, the message. BAM! The higher-performing, better-converting creative is now sitting in the inbox of your entire list.

The result? Faster results and better campaign performance. 

If you can set up your testing through a dynamic content platform to monitor performance and automatically update your campaign with the winning content, that’s one less task on your list.

Two more bonuses:

3 tests to try using dynamic content and moment-of-open technology 

Try it out on three tactics that can help you capitalize on the changes in consumer behavior and other special challenges that will make this holiday season one for the books. 

1.  Update your BOPIS/BOPUC strategy with dynamic product recommendations

Hypothesis: Adding dynamic personalized product recommendations to a pickup reminder will generate incremental sales without increasing spam complaints or unsubscribes.

Rationale: BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and BOPUC (Buy Online, Pick Up Curbside) helps customers buy local and get their goods faster than waiting for home delivery. The emails you send when their orders are ready to claim give you a chance to upsell or cross-sell customers, just as you can with regular order confirmations. 

Test: Your control is your regular pickup notification. The variable is the same email with personalized product recommendations pulled from inventory. Test to see whether customers respond to this additional content.

KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, unsubscribes, spam complaints

2. Test static versus animated coupons

Hypothesis: A coupon using a scratch-off animation will attract more clicks and conversions than a static coupon

Rationale: Animated GIF support is nearly universal now in email browsers. Plus, a moving object is more likely to arouse curiosity and clicks.

Test: The control is the static coupon. The variable is the animated coupon. Divide your database into two segments at random, and test to see which one draws better responses.

KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, purchases, revenue.

3. Increase personalization throughout the email message

Hypothesis: Adding personalized content in more locations (greeting, images, offers, location-based elements) will increase customer engagement and conversions.

Rationale: Most marketers can personalize the subject line or use segmentation to target content manually. Adding personalization throughout the email instead of segregating it to one location tells your customers you know them as individuals, not just numbers. 

Note: With this multivariate structure, you’re comparing one entire email to another instead of individual sections like the subject line, image, call to action or offer.

Test: Your control is your standard email with one personalization element, or none. Your variable is an email in which you add multiple personalization points, such as a combination of the following according to the data you have for each customer:

KPI: Unique/total opens, unique/total clicks, conversions.

Want to learn 7 more ways to improve your email workflow efficiency?

Testing is just one way you can streamline your email process, leaving you more time to think, plan and analyze. Check out our new guide, 8 Secret Workflow Hacks Email Marketers Use to Get the Job Done (With Results!) and get tips like these: 

Download your copy now and get ready for better results!

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!

In a normal year, many email marketers would be hard at work right now planning strategy and campaigns for the holiday shopping season. But these days it’s hard enough planning a campaign just a week or two out, let alone three to six months in the future. 

And nothing’s more frustrating than scrambling to replace a campaign you had to scrap because something went wrong at the last minute—except, perhaps, scrambling in damage control mode as you realize a campaign you just sent has incorrect or outdated information.

This year, with so much riding on a successful holiday season, you must be able to plan campaigns knowing your hard work and creativity won’t be wasted if conditions change unexpectedly. But how can you do it without pulling your team off other projects to create and test hasty replacements?

Here’s the not-so-secret secret: Dynamic content that you can swap out as needed will keep your messages fresh and up to date no matter when your customers open them.

3 easy ways to work dynamic content into your messaging

Dynamic content lets you update messaging and creative in emails at any time. It’s as easy as changing out a header image on your website, and updates can be automated or made manually depending on the situation.

You probably know about some tried-and-true uses of dynamic content, like a map that shows your customers where to find your nearest stores. These days, with businesses opening and closing at short notice according to government requirements, that feature is more essential than ever. But dynamic content can do so much more, keeping all your hard work and holiday planning as evergreen as the finest tannenbaum.

Need some holiday email marketing ideas? We just came out with a new guide, the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook, which is filled with ways to use dynamic content to boost revenue, help your team work smarter and build customer engagement that makes your brand your customers’ reliable source for easy holiday shopping. 

Here are three tips from the Lookbook you can use right away to create campaigns that will stay relevant and usable months after you create them:

1. Give customers a gift they can open again and again

Keep your subscribers clicking on your emails with a multiple-day, multi-touch campaign that highlights different limited-time promotions (like a “Twelve Days of Christmas” campaign with last-minute gift ideas).

Dynamic content ensures that each subscriber sees only your current offer, no matter which email they open or when they open it. It ends the frustration customers feel at clicking on a tempting offer, only to find themselves shut out when they reach your website.

2. Make the moment unforgettable

Whenever you have a big event coming up, like your Black Friday kickoff or a VIP gathering at local stores, include an “Add to Calendar” function in your email invite.

With just a couple of taps, your customers can add your event to their calendars. They’ll even get a personalized reminder when it’s time to show up!  

3. Reduce your follow-up workload

Expired offers and out-of-stocks are some of the hazards that go along with the harried holiday shopping season, but they don’t have to be business as usual in your email messages. And, in this year of disruption and uncertainty, you could be dealing with other issues like merchandise delays and regional business disruptions, too. 

So, use dynamic content to update your outdated email automatically with correct information. Your customers will see only the updated content whenever they open the email – even after you send it! Your team won’t have to spend time on follow-up emails or even the dreaded “Oops!” apology email. This gives your subscribers a better experience with your brand, too.

Want to know more? Get the guide!

Your copy of the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook is as close as a click. It’s free and filled with great tips to help you leverage the power of dynamic content and moment of open technology for more relevant and engaging email. 

Download your free copy now!

Retail marketers have their work cut out for them as we quickly approach a holiday shopping season that remains full of question marks. Advanced personalization that uses dynamic content and moment-of-open technology will be even more essential in this challenging year to bring value to email campaigns and help marketers keep up in an uncertain, constantly-changing retail environment.

It’s never too early to start planning, especially this year when marketers will pull every available lever to drive traffic, sales and revenue without relying on deep discounts or margin-eating incentives. 

Research from the National Retail Federation shows nearly 1 in 4 consumers say they start shopping in October or earlier. This year, you need to get ahead of these early birds to serve their needs and wants and retool campaigns quickly if conditions change. 

Need some help to get started on your strategic holiday plan? Find it in the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook, packed full of tips and tactics for sending emails that will get your customers excited about shopping this holiday season.

Early holiday numbers predict ecommerce will boom again 

U.S. retail sales, including holiday, will fall 14% in 2020, eMarketer predicts, while ecommerce should rise 18%, bolstered by shoppers who discovered the convenience of curbside/home delivery and in-store pickup. 

No matter what happens, retailers are in a stronger position today than they were in the early weeks of the pandemic. They have learned how to survive shutdowns and manage around product shortages and day-to-day changes. 

With the holidays looming, marketers can put that knowledge to work by using dynamic content and moment of open technology to create high-value email campaigns that roll with uncertainties and get customers excited about shopping again.

Tactic 1: Create up-to-date regional campaigns with moment-of-open location data. 

Different parts of the country will be at different stages of recovery this year, from full reopening to partial or total shutdown. Your email campaigns must reflect these variations, especially if your company relies on physical stores for sales and customer service. 

One email, many variations: Save time, money and resources by replacing all of your regional email campaigns with a single email template that includes dynamic content modules. These let you blend standard content for all shoppers with content that’s right for different regions.

A map of your nearby locations can update automatically based on where your customers open the email. Copy can list regional store hours or shopping policies. No worries about sending customers to closed stores or posting inaccurate information!

Tactic 2: Show customers how click-and-collect solves the need for speed. 

Many consumers are adamant that they won’t join the usual holiday throngs this year. Show shoppers you care about their health and safety by offering click-and-collect or “buy online, pick up in store” services that let them shop but stay socially distant.

Create a fun animation or short video that walks new users through the steps so they understand how the process works and gives them confidence to use the service, like this example from Tractor Supply Company.

Then, add it to a special promotional campaign or to purchase-confirmation emails if they choose the service at checkout. 

Remember to add location data and dynamic content to the mix! With these you can target the locations where you offer the service and swap in substitute content for emails opened in regions where you don’t offer it yet.

Tactic 3. Keep buyers in the know with refreshed shipping and delivery information.

Whether your online shoppers choose regular delivery or click-and-collect from a local store, keep them updated (and off your customer-service lines) with shipping updates that track delivery dates and times. 

Add this content to a dynamic module in your regular or triggered emails, or send a stand-alone email they can refer to whenever they want an update.

Want to know more? Get the guide!

Your copy of the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook is as close as a click. It’s free and filled with great tips to help you leverage the power of dynamic content and moment of open technology for more relevant and engaging email. Learn more about these cool tools, too:

Download your free copy now!

Congratulations to Sandra Cordero, CRM manager for women’s apparel retailer Torrid, the 2020 winner of the Email Experience Council’s 2020 Stefan Pollard Award. Sandra is a good friend to Liveclicker, and her work and leadership are well-deserving of this honor.

Image from EEC

The Pollard Award is the most prestigious award in the email industry. What makes it unique among industry awards is that the email marketers who win it not only have to develop innovative campaigns but must also show that their strategies and tactics drive real results for their companies. 

That’s what Sandra was able to do with Torrid since she joined the women’s apparel retailer in 2016. Working closely with her team and Liveclicker, Sandra has proved again and again how innovation in email can drive revenue and performance for her company.

Her initiatives have contributed to a 44% increase in redemption rate and a 44% increase in revenue from digitizing Torrid’s omnichannel bounceback program. The email program itself has seen a 119% increase in total program revenue over that time, representing consistent double-digit growth year over year. 

“Working with Sandra and her team has been a reward in itself. She has an eye toward innovation and improvement that leaves no stone unturned. She’s so deserving of this award, and Torrid has the email performance to prove it,” Brooke Schommer, Account Development Manager who has worked closely with Sandra, says.

Sandra isn’t the only Liveclicker client whose work was recognized this year by the EEC. Faith Bukauskus of Hot Topic was an award finalist as well.

“Faith exhibits a fantastic can-do spirit that brings success to every project she touches, and has driven so much success for Hot Topic with her email programs,” Brooke says.

As a strong supporter of email for more than three years, Faith has driven double-digit returns in annual growth for the last two years. She reinvigorated Hot Topic’s email initiatives program and re-engineered the Black Friday plan, which included sending more activity-based personalized messages earlier in the season to warm up clients.

Torrid and Hot Topic in action

If you follow our blog or read our case studies and white papers, you’ve seen the innovative ways both Torrid and Hot Topic have used advanced personalization and moment of open technology to make their emails more engaging, useful and compelling for their customers. 

One of Sandra’s big successes was a total makeover of Torrid’s loyalty program that included developing a monthly rewards statement with personalized content based on behavior and rewards for members at each tier of the program. Customers love the email – it generates over-the-top opens and clicks – and have come to rely on it to track their status in the loyalty program.

Hot Topic was able to use dynamic content to solve a perennial problem – email recipients who click through on a tempting offer, only to find the product sold out or the promotion had expired. The brand now uses dynamic images and moment of open technology to substitute new images or offers if the original ones are no longer available.

What would Stefan say?

Stefan’s friends and co-workers remember him as a tireless supporter of email innovations that produce better experiences for customers and stronger results for brands, as well as email education to improve the entire practice of email marketing. 

We think he would be proud of Sandra and Faith and how they have adopted new uses of technology to create better experiences for their customers and their brands.

Use these tips to keep revenue flowing when your venues are closed.

Many entertainment centers have gone dark for now, with many venues canceling everything from individual performance to entire seasons, thanks in large part due to uncertainty about reopening dates.

But even as buildings stay shuttered, enterprising venues can stay connected with fans through regular emails that keep fans in the know about canceled or rescheduled events.

In fact, attendees are looking to email more than ever these days to stay informed, according to a new poll from Twilio. It found 67% of consumers favor email to learn about changes and updates from the brands they value the most, and 52.9% want to get critical updates about closings and how to stay engaged during shutdowns.

For entertainment venues and other companies invested in live entertainment, the challenge is keeping ticket-holders and event attendees virtually close even if they can’t be there physically. It’s important to acknowledge the disappointment of ticket-holders and to keep them informed about reschedulings, refunds and other important issues. 

A venue that’s lucky enough to be able to remain open still has work to do, especially in showing attendees how it’s keeping them safe. Here’s how email can help:

1. Going digital. Highlight events that are being livestreamed, like concerts or stage performances. Embed video in your emails to promote the streams or upcoming performances, and add a countdown timer to build anticipation.

2. Look back and ahead. Use loyalty members’ past purchase or attendance history to populate email content. Add video of performances (if contracts permit) or recap the shows they attended. Then, create offers to bring them back when you reopen, such as first crack at premium tickets, advancement to a higher loyalty tier or discounts on season passes.

3.  Keep emails updated, even after you send. Things can change quickly when your venue runs on live events. The pressure to keep information current is higher than ever. But you’ll gain the gift of the “takeback” when you use dynamic email content capable of being edited even after you hit “send.” As soon as you learn a concert is canceled or rescheduled, or a venue closes or reopens, you can change out the editable content with your new message, which will refresh as soon as your recipients will see as soon as they open your email.

4. Use live polls to keep the audience engaged: Ask your audience a poll question in each email. What was their favorite concert? Which performer would they want to see next, what other kinds of live events would they want to see? Or find out what they’re doing while your venue is closed or how they’re getting by. 

When you use a live poll, voters can see how they compare with everyone else. Bonus: Their answers can also give you great fodder for future events or ways to improve the experience.

5. Add a playlist. The action might have moved off the stage or the arena floor, but you can help recreate the experience with a Spotify playlist that you embed in the email so your subscribers can play it without leaving your message or having to open an app. Pull music, theme songs or podcasts that feature past events or represent events that you had to postpone or cancel.

Nothing can ever replace the magic and intensity of a live performance, in-person event or game, but email messaging that uses advanced personalization and real-time content can keep attendees warmed up and ready to return as soon as your doors are open.

Enterprise retailers with major investments in brick-and-mortar locations are on the front lines of change in today’s economy.

In a time of dramatic disruption, many are turning to their digital operations to help them keep revenue flowing and the light at the end of the tunnel as bright as possible. Locations that remain open have their own set of challenges: balancing store traffic with managing employee and customer health and safety, and dealing with supply-chain disruptions.

As a marketer, you’re probably fielding many questions about how to make your digital channels even more effective and working overtime trying to find ways to increase your company’s bottom line while maintaining an excellent customer experience with your brand. 

One answer – maybe not surprisingly – is email. The reliable workhorse that consumers prefer over other digital channels for brand communications in good times is emerging as the go-to connector in turbulent times for shoppers whose favorite stores are closed for the duration.


Overcome your retail marketing challenges and scale up quickly
Get the Ebook: Personalizing Your Customer Journey As Retail Returns

Updated data from BounceX show email open and conversion rates soared by early April this year – open rates were up 25% and conversions topped 40%.

However, business-as-usual emails won’t help retailers make up the revenue gap or connect with unsettled or stressed customers. 

Advanced personalization and real-time communications will help you solve problems now and set the stage for even better performance after the lights come on and doors open later, as you can see with these five email marketing tactics for retailers:

1. Press “send” confidently even as conditions change. One of the biggest challenges retailers face in this uncertain economy is how quickly things change, whether it’s a product that suddenly goes out of stock, locations that open or close, or offers and messages that become outdated or inappropriate in a new context. 

That means the email you send in the morning could well be out of date by the time your customer reads it even just a few hours later. It’s enough to make any email marketer anxious when it comes time to deploy their campaigns. 

Gain the gift of the “take-back” with modules of editable email content you can change even after you send your campaign, using technology that lets you switch in up-to-date content based on when or where your recipient opens your email. You’ll send with confidence, knowing your audience is getting the right information whenever they open.

2. Offer real-time product recommendations: Products can fly off the shelves fast in turbulent times, and supply-chain uncertainty means shipments might not come in as regularly as before. This creates a bad customer experience even in good times. In bad times, it can quickly turn customers against your brand and even drive them to your competition.

Using real-time recommendations based on inventory levels will help you avoid promoting unavailable products online or in-store. Your messages can use adaptive product recommendations that change based on real-time inventory data.

3. Engage your loyalty-program members. Keep your VIPs and other high-value customers warmed up and ready to convert with personalized messages that build on their purchase or membership history or reveal their tier status and the benefits they’ll get when they move to a higher level. Give them advance notice of store specials or changes in hours or locations, and let them be the first to know when your doors will be open again.

4. Update triggered and transactional emails. Add value for the customers who do buy from you by including personalized recommendations, product advice or coupons based on browse or purchase history, predictive or “next logical product” models. If they’ve made an order online, include a real-time shipping tracker so they can keep an eye on their package as it’s being prepared and sent (bonus points: this can also relieve stress on your customer service center from customers calling in to ask where their order is!).

You might do this already for order-confirmation or cart abandonment emails, but look at the possibilities for including personalized or “moment of open” content in welcome emails or account-registration emails to accommodate any influx of new customers finding you online when they can’t access their preferred brands. 

5. Add “tap to text” to expand email reach. Although homebound workers and students on desktops are driving up email open, click and conversion rates, their phones keep them connected to family and friends. “Tap to text” lets you reach these customers quickly with late-breaking news, updates and offers. An in-email call to action automatically populates a text when viewed on mobile or provides easy instructions to customers checking their email on desktops or other devices. 

Upgrades today bring benefits later

Advanced personalization and real-time messaging will help you stay connected with your customers now as we all weather the storm together. But once the world begins to recover, your email program will emerge even stronger, positioned to respond to and even anticipate your customers’ needs and wants and making your messages even more valuable to your customers. 

Get even more actionable advice and tips for accelerating your retail recovery in this ebook made just for retail marketers helping their brands recover from the global crisis. Download Personalizing Your Customer Journey As Retail Returns today!

More than ever today, at-home entertainment providers are helping people connect with work, family and friends for information, education and distraction. Customers are responding by heading online in record numbers.  

Preliminary figures show internet usage has risen 50% to 70%. Video streaming and game downloads are posting massive increases as people seek diversions at home. Brands in these verticals are faced with challenges of scaling up quickly across the organization, especially in areas of communications, marketing, and customer support.

‘Always-on’ conditions require nimble messaging

Even during normal times, companies increasingly see the value in being able to pivot quickly to keep their messaging up to date and accurate. In these times, that “should” has become a must because it will help customers manage new and ever-changing day-to-day realities.

Companies who will success in this pressure-cooker environment will be those who can meet these challenges:

These new demands on messaging can strain the resources of marketing teams that are already stretched to their limits. Technology that allows the team to edit and adapt messaging content on the fly will boost productivity as well as increase message value for recipients.

5 ways to stay competitive in a fast-changing market

1. Gain the gift of the “takeback.” This allows you to edit or switch out content even after you press “send.” This is important for digital content providers like streaming services because so much can change from day to day or even from the start of the end of the business day now.

An entertainment channel or movie, TV show or virtual game that looked like a sure hit in January when you created your promotional plan could be outdated or inappropriate now. Or, your company has to respond in real time to an aggressive promotion from a major competitor.

No matter the reason, you don’t have to worry about canceling email promotions in your send queue. Using real-time technology, you can change out the editable content with the new message as needed.

2. Scale up for increased demand. Each of your customers has unique interests in program and content choices. Your email messages should reflect that so you can send messages read like 1-to-1 communications. 

Use dynamic content blocks and adaptive images to create nearly endless versions of a single message template. You can mix in your regular promotions with content that appeals to customers whose tastes you know and include how-to info and content suggestions for new customers without having to create side-by-side messaging strategies.

3.  Add a real-time news or schedule feed. Adding this real-time, automatically updating content in your emails shows customers what’s playing on your channels at the moment they open your emails. Plus, it gives them a heads-up on what’s playing next. Then, adding a “Play” button can help desktop viewers jump right into the content they want. 

4. Embed video right into your emails: Make your content even more compelling by adding trailers, teasers, highlights, even short pieces right into your emails. Besides showing customers what they’re missing,  you can also help parents and other video watchdogs check out content in advance to be sure it’s appropriate to watch. 

In the past, video in email could be frustrating because many browsers or email clients didn’t support it. However, today’s technology can serve up the right version automatically to give your viewers the best experience.  

5. Expand your reach with “tap to text.” Email is fast, but sometimes SMS is the right choice when you need to send last-minute program updates, reminders and late-breaking offers. “tap to text” makes the process effortless with an in-email call to action that automatically populates a text when viewed on mobile or provides easy instructions to customers checking their email on desktops or other devices.

Real-time content positions your brand for what’s ahead

Industry trend-watchers are suggesting that the changes happening rapidly in online and in-home entertainment will alter how consumers access video, gaming, music and live content long after conditions return to normal. 

Retool your email communications to meet your customers’ short-term needs now, and then revisit them later to keep your brand a welcome guest in their homes for the long term.

One of the most amazing pivots we’ve seen in recent weeks has been the lightning-speed turnaround in how people approach getting their food. Whether it’s from a box of groceries on the front porch or a bag from a local restaurant’s pick-up window, behavior is shifting quickly – and marketers need to adapt to keep up.

This rapid change means companies – especially those doing the crucial work of providing groceries –  must scale up their customer communications at the same warp speed to keep their audience informed and supported.

The online grocery delivery boom 

Online grocery services have experienced rapid growth recently. Internet Retailer’s RetailX consumer confidence index found on March 11 that 14.2% of UK shoppers were buying more groceries online

By March 25, that percentage had jumped to 25.8%, and shoppers using services like Waitrose and Ocado found themselves in virtual queues behind thousands of other shoppers as delivery times filled up. 


Scale up your grocery brand’s personalization quickly and easily. Get the ebook:
Digital In Fast Forward: Email Personalization Best Practices for Grocery Retailers

Similar problems have cropped up in the United States for online grocers and delivery services facing surges in demand. An Axios survey found 41% of consumers report shopping more for groceries online. Brands find themselves balancing the difficult pressures of providing essential services while scaling up capacity in a manner that keeps their customers and employees safe.

The challenge: Responding swiftly with up-to-date, trustworthy communications

This scramble to reinvent logistics services in order to keep customers stocked with their essentials doesn’t stop at the warehouse door. More than ever, companies need to communicate effectively with their customers as demand spikes or conditions change daily or even hourly.

Successful brands use communications strategies and technologies that they can scale up quickly, using sophisticated tactics like:

4 simple tactics to scale up essential customer communications

Cut the workload, increase personalization (essential for location-heavy services like groceries and takeout) and build loyalty with these email marketing strategies for online grocery businesses that make it easier to put your customers’ needs and concerns first:

1. Real-time product recommendations: High-demand products can fly off shelves in minutes. Using live inventory data lets you swap an out-of-stock item with an in-stock replacement on the fly (who expected yeast to sell out?) even after you send your email. 

Real-time inventory integration updates message content based on when your customers open your messages. So, your email stays as fresh as today’s baked bread and reduces frustration for online and in-store customers alike.

2. Live delivery tracking: Here’s another great way that email can reduce uncertainty. Just by looking at the real-time tracker in their email messages, your customers can tell when their orders are being prepared, in transit or delivered. This is a great way to reduce strain on your call center and support team from customers wondering where their orders are. 

3. One template, many versions: A campaign that resonates in a big city on lockdown might not apply to a rural community where shoppers may have different circumstances. 

Use adaptive images, localization data and dynamic content to create nearly endless versions of a single message template with minimal effort. Instead of creating dozens of messages, you just add modules that change according to your automation rules. 

Because the content changes based on where customers open your messages, you don’t have to worry about targeting segments with the wrong content.

4. Embed a social feed: As fast and flexible as email is, sometimes it’s easier to get the word out on crucial updates and changes by posting on your social media. These days, many people turn to social channels first to engage with brands for updates and questions.

 When you embed a live feed of your social channels in your emails, you’ll make sure your customers always see the latest info. A properly embedded feed refreshes the moment your customer opens the message. So, you’ll know your emails will always feature the most up-to-date information, even after you send them. 

Short-term wins pave the way for future success

No one knows how long the current emergency will last or how we will recover. Focusing your email program now to put your customers and their concerns first, shows them you stand by your commitment to them and gives them even more reason to trust your brand and products when the storm has passed. Get more insights and inspiring examples in this ebook for grocery marketers: Digital In Fast Forward: Email Personalization Best Practices for Grocery Retailers.