As we predicted, promotional email volume has skyrocketed this year as brands worked to retain and reengage customers because of pandemic-related shutdowns. And marketers facing the decline of third-party cookies are now chasing first-party data through — you guessed it — email relationships. Inbox placement and reputation management vendor Validity finds that global inbox volume has increased 94% since Q3 2020. Competition for email attention and email data is tougher than ever.
The stakes around your email program are higher. Because of data deprecation, first-party data is gold. And email addresses unlock user identity and permission — keys to this treasure. So responsibly collecting email registrations, preserving relationships with good sending behavior, and enhancing user profiles through regular email interactions isn’t just about getting more opens and clicks. Improving deliverability now makes or breaks your entire customer data strategy. Here is how to do right with email marketing this holiday season:
- Don’t get lured into the temptation of over-messaging. We get the appeal of sending just one more message when you are facing looming Q4 transaction goals. But wearing out your list now sacrifices longer-term revenue, compromises your sender reputation, and potentially deletes forever the identifier you need to stay in touch with a customer. GDPR allows that users can request that their data be permanently erased from a marketing database if requested.
- Keep registration customer led. Boxed and Rue La La now require registration just to browse their sites. But we advise not forcing a customer’s hand. Let customers control their opt-in. Rent the Runway’s omnichannel preference center collects explicit proclivities and zero-party data such as user size and style searches for use in product recommendations. And Dollar Tree gives subscribers a chance to change contact information, desired message type, and frequency.
- Deliver value to customers. We bet your email strategy over-indexes on accomplishing your Q4 goals — sales volume, revenues, inventory liquidation. This is the case for most emailers. But the best way to win this holiday and still have a database and solid sending reputation is to give customers what they want, rather than forcing them into your path to purchase. As Validity found, Red Letter Days increased inbox placement when it targeted emails to user behavior and preference. And improved inbox placement boosted opens and clicks, which generated more data for better targeting. This virtuous cycle increased revenue attributed to email by 10%. Email marketing vendors like Bluecore and Cordial collect and make usable non-email data (like point-of-service data, supply chain updates, or SKU-level metadata) to improve message relevance.
- Measure more than opens and clicks. You’ve probably heard (and are fretting over) Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, which anonymizes email open information for an estimated 52% of all received emails. This certainly challenges how senders gauge campaign success and makes unengaged contacts unrecognizable. But this also encourages a better email measurement approach. Besides opens and clicks, measure the value of email customers over time; and track how email data is used to improve performance and internal efficiency. Many email service providers are also working on an open-rate proxy metric using data they collect across inbox providers besides Apple.
Do you agree that the key to email marketing this Q4 is to think long term? How are you using email to reach your immediate sales goals while also preserving customer relationships? If you’d like to discuss your email program further, please schedule an inquiry with me.