How to Win the Relevance Game

  |  March 20, 2013   |  Comments

Stay ahead of the pack and keep your email and digital marketing highly relevant to your subscribers with these strategies.

Although many marketers are trying to follow expert advice to make their email messages more relevant to recipients, the declining engagement numbers show how many are falling short.

If you're like many of your fellow marketers, you still don't know how to make email deliver on its promise of relevance.

How do you stay ahead of the pack and keep your email and digital marketing highly relevant to your subscribers? My list of strategies below will help you get started.

1. Rely on data insights. Start by analyzing email engagement from a customer perspective. Separate the behaviors of new subscribers in the past 30 days from actives who have opened or clicked an email in the past month, "at risk" customers who haven't opened or clicked an email in 31 to 90 days, and inactives who haven't opened or clicked in the last 90 days.

Which segment is largest? Which segment is growing fastest? Is click frequency rising or falling? The answers to these questions will help you adjust your list growth strategy and contact strategy.

For example, if the "at risk" or inactive segments are growing quickly and the click frequency overall is declining, you need to identify the inactive segment. If your new subscriber segment is growing slowly, you need to ramp up your opt-in email acquisition strategy.

2. Track customer behaviors. Once you have a good handle on your data, you can look for insights that will help you drive your strategy.

Every marketer has the perfect customer lifecycle to maximize revenue, build customer loyalty, boost engagement, and improve marketing ROI.

For example, retailers want customers to open charge accounts, sign up for email, "like" them on Facebook, open and click regularly in email, sign up for SMS alerts, share their promotions with their social network "friends," and ultimately make several purchases.

What happens when a customer falls off this perfect path? That is when you need to start looking for the dynamic insights in the data and adapt your marketing strategy at the speed of your customers.

Use the data to develop a strategy to create a relevant, engaging consumer experience and anticipate their future needs consistently in all of their preferred digital channels.

Some examples:

  • Orchestrate email touches and display ads to lift frequency, engagement, and conversion.
  • Slow customer attrition with predictive churn mitigation programs.
  • Leverage user-generated content to develop personalized email programs.

Finding the "Who," "What," and "How" to Drive Engagement

Below are five insights into customer behavior that you can gleam from a retail lifecycle model, along with email tactics you can use to capitalize on them:

  1. Customers who see a retargeted display ad are 57 percent more likely to purchase. Roll out a coordinated email and display ad campaign that identifies specific individuals who have performed specific actions.
  2. Customers who remain engaged (less than 30 days since last click) are 50 percent less likely to churn. Create a program to identify decreasing engagement and mitigate before dormancy settles in.
  3. Customers who connect on Facebook are 30 percent more likely to join your loyalty program. Develop an orchestrated email/display/social program to increase your number of Facebook "likes."
  4. Loyalty program members drive 72 percent more revenue than non-members. Launch an orchestrated program using email, display, and social to encourage customers to join the loyalty program.
  5. Customers who are engaged with email spend 34 percent more time in-store than unengaged customers. Become proactive rather than reactive in your marketing. Build a program using behavior (purchase, browse, clicks, etc.) to predict a customer's needs and deliver highly relevant content to close the sale.

The Last Word

Delivering highly relevant content isn't as daunting as many marketers believe. Your first step is to change your mindset and move from a campaign-focused model to a customer-centric approach.

It is often as easy as identifying some key segments through analyzing your data and changing up content to address customers' specific wants and needs.

It is not too late to check that 2012 "delivering highly relevant content" item off your "To Do" list. Start a project to analyze your data today, and be on the lookout for actionable insights.

This strategy will allow you to stay ahead of the pack and keep your email marketing program delivering on your goals.

Race image on home page via Shutterstock.


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Mike Hotz

Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.

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