Email has long served as a core tool for multichannel engagement, but it has taken on increased importance in the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis as a solution to increase retention in a personal, yet cost-effective, way.
But it's hard for marketers to understand how they stack up relative to competition—are they managing to get the right outcomes for their goals relative to their sector peers? To help address this challenge, we recently published Mapping Email Marketing Tactics to Key Stages in the Customer Journey. This report offers a primer for benchmarking your performance and planning next steps for your email in this challenging time. With our data science team, we classify email subject lines from panel data into five categories:
Events: emails that invite customers to in-store or online events
Loyalty: emails related to loyalty program membership or emails that use language to emphasize benefits/exclusivity to a select customer base
Product Discovery: emails that describe or introduce a brand’s products
Promotional: emails that market special offers or deals
Trigger: emails used to incite a particular action like abandon cart or product recommendations
lululemon Leads the Way
lululemon Athletica offers a great example of a leading marketer that uses trigger emails as a critical lever for driving customer retention. In combination with a customer data platform, lululemon works with an email vendor that specializes in content variation based on customer context to create templated emails with dynamic subject lines and content that can adapt to browsing and purchasing behavior. With customers less willing to go to stores, sending context-specific variations of standard abandoned cart emails helps lululemon still engage customers in a more personal way, driving an open rate 74% higher than the average.
Join Email Tactics Together for Retention
In this research we help marketers understand how they can refine and meld these models across the Buy/Own/Advocate framework to drive specific outcomes at different stages of the consumer journey. For instance, B2C emails that combine loyalty and promotional language (14% of multi-category campaigns) provide an open rate lift of 11% to promotional campaigns. However, only 11% of campaigns use a combination of models in their subject lines. Emails to loyalty members shouldn't just feature points statuses. Instead, they can and should promote discounts exclusive to loyal customers and feature triggered product recommendations. Every email should have a goal (e.g., retention) and should use a mix of content levers to achieve that goal.
The recently published Effective Email Marketing Strategies: COVID-19 and Beyond takes these models of email classification and uses them to identify the best-of-the-best in retail email strategy. Perhaps most notably is the focus of leading brands on quality of email content over quantity. In Q2, retail leaders who saw the largest increase in traffic from email sent 39% fewer emails than the average. Taking the time to map out clearly what your goal is for every interaction with a customer will enable you to select the right mix of levers.