The Sea of Change in Data-Driven Email Practices


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In this whitepaper, Chris Marriott, VP of Services & Principal Consultant at The Relevancy Group, explains how brands can nurture relationships with customers along the lifecycle—all while keeping email as the glue that holds marketing channels together.

Download the paper to gain actionable insights, such as:
-How to plan for stages in the customer lifecycle that don’t end in “buy right now”
-The primary challenges marketing executives face that are related to department silos
-Using data to recognize ‘smoke signals’ that indicate consumers are ready to buy

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The Sea of Change in Data-Driven Email Practices

  1. 1. Research Sponsored by Tactics for Data-Driven Lifecycle Marketing May, 2013 THE SEA OF CHANGE IN DATA-DRIVEN EMAIL PRACTICES Written by Christopher Marriott The Relevancy Group, LLC
  2. 2. Page | 1 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Sea of Change in Data-Driven Email Practices Tactics for Data-Driven Lifecycle Marketing Written by Christopher Marriott, The Relevancy Group, LLC Research Sponsored by Yesmail Interactive Introduction Email is the most dynamic and powerful marketing channel in the universe. It’s accepted in marketing circles that email keeps customers engaged and informed and can be a great tool for generating sales and acquiring new customers. This mindset about the channel has represented the status quo for years. A review of email marketing articles from five years ago will show you how little things have changed. Email marketing has matured to the point where further evolution of the channel is not possible. Or is it possible? How do we continue to evolve email marketing? It starts with the most important question in email marketing today: "What do you do when you get them to do what you want them to do?” Why is this question so important? The obvious answer is that you want them to “pay you money.” But that is never going be the outcome of every email interaction you have with customers and prospects. In today’s growing multichannel world, an email might not even be the next interaction you have with that person. The real reason this question is so important is that it forces you to focus on how email can be the connective tissue between all of the channels. At this point, you can begin see the tremendous benefits that can be achieved through lifecycle marketing. For the purposes of this paper it should be understood that lifecycle marketing refers to automated and triggered multichannel communications that are data-driven and responsive to changing consumer states over time. They can be both single- touch and multi-touch in nature. Once a marketer adopts a lifecycle marketing approach to digital marketing, he quickly realizes that it means that consumer engagement with his brand must not be the only goal; it must also be planned for. What do you do next after you have their attention? The ultimate goal might be to drive a purchase, but you need to plan for the steps along the way that don’t end in “buy right now.” If you don’t plan these steps, you’re likely to hit a marketing dead end, where your customer stops engaging. Sending another email can’t be the only option you have. For more information on The Relevancy Group’s services, visit, call (877) 972-6886, email or on twitter @emaildaniels, @csmarriott or @relevancygroup Reproduction by any method or unauthorized circulation is strictly prohibited. The Relevancy Group’s reports are intended for the sole use of clients. For press citations, please adhere to The Relevancy Group citation policy at All opinions and projects are based on The Relevancy Group’s judgment at the time of the publication and are subject to change.
  3. 3. Page | 2 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Permanent Campaign The Clinton presidency was often referred to as “The Permanent Campaign.” What they meant was that he never stopped running for office, even after being elected because he knew there would be another election down the road. It’s the same thing with marketing. If a customer transacts with you, there’s a good chance they will do so again in the future. The time between transactions can vary greatly, but in all cases it is critical to recognize that successful email marketing goes beyond selling great products at a great price. Hammering your customers with “buy now” messaging quickly turns to noise. This is a marketing dead end. Savvy email marketers will use lifecycle campaigns to engage customers between purchases—the permanent campaign! Today’s leading email marketers are doing things like creating the content that gives context for their products (how-tos, case studies). They are creating entire conversations surrounding their content such as reviews, blogs, videos to watch and share, customer forums, and Twitter. However many marketers struggle with this approach because it goes beyond just email marketing. Oftentimes a company’s organization gets in the way of doing this successfully resulting in marketing silos. Silos are good for farmers but they are terrible for marketers. They get in the way of planning the multichannel actions you need to take with your customers and prospects. Silos keep you from leveraging the connection between display, social, search and email (it's not the single exposure alone that gets consumers to act, but rather the context of all the marketing that preceded it). All of these channels are places you may encounter your customers and prospects and can be leveraged as tools as you “plan” what you are going to do when you get someone to do what you want them to do. The chart on the next page from our recent research is a good indication of the existence of marketing silos. Less than half of marketing departments share common goals, less than a third have central ownership across marketing channels and only a quarter do any coordination between marketing channels. Most organizations find it impossible to develop multichannel lifecycle campaigns under these conditions. Indeed, marketing silos are like a hangover: they are really hard to get rid of and everything else hurts!
  4. 4. Page | 3 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Figure 1 – Marketing Department Organizational Structure Question: Please select the statement or statements that best represent how your marketing organization operates? (select all) Source: The Relevancy Group, LLC Executive Survey, n=419 11/13, US Only, all market segments The pain caused by the silos becomes readily apparent when we asked the same marketing executives to list their top ten challenges when developing email marketing campaigns. As the chart below indicates, 4 of the top 10 challenges email marketers face are directly related to problems caused by siloed marketing departments. Even breaking down some of your silos— email and mobile for example—will drive better results and allow you to create better lifecycle campaigns. Figure 2 – Top 10 Challenges When Developing Email Campaigns Question: What are your greatest challenges when developing email marketing campaigns? (select all) Source: The Relevancy Group, LLC Executive Survey, n=374 11/13, US Only, Mid-Market & Enterprise Respondents
  5. 5. Page | 4 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The ability to automate and trigger communications in response to events along the consumer purchase path is the other key to a permanent campaign strategy. These triggers can be things they do—or don’t do. They can be triggered by the passage of time, a visit to your web site and any number of other ways. They are powered by the most precious commodity you have… Data! The various sources of data you have and collect on your customers form the foundation of your entire lifecycle program. The next chart shows all the types of data that can be used to drive your multichannel lifecycle marketing efforts. Figure 3 – Connecting Customer Data to the Customer Lifecycle Source: The Relevancy Group, LLC The key to running permanent campaigns is to notice the “smoke signals” consumers send up when they are once again ready to buy. These come in the form of—yes—data. Whether its higher engagement with your email or time spent browsing on your website, the data guides you and allows you to react with “buy now” messaging again. The Power of Data-Driven Lifecycle Marketing It seems like everywhere you look these days people are talking about lifecycle marketing. It has been anointed as “the next big thing” and marketers are dreaming big! But for all the buzz and hype, there’s still not much activity on the part of marketers. When we asked marketers in
  6. 6. Page | 5 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. a recent Relevancy Group survey what percentage of the messages they send are automated, as in triggered messages based upon customer behavior, the numbers came back very low as the next chart illustrates. In fact, only slightly more than 20 percent of them utilized data-driven automated and triggered messages in more than 30 percent of their total messages sent. Figure 4 – Percentage of Automated/Triggered Messages Utilized by Email Marketers Question: What percentage of the messages that you send are automated, as in triggered messages based upon customer behavior? (select one) Source: The Relevancy Group, LLC/Executive Marketer Survey n=374 11/13, US Only, Mid-Market & Enterprise Respondents When we followed up that question by asking marketers what were the most important considerations when selecting an email marketing service provider (ESP) application, triggered automated campaigns came in at No. 18 behind such features as social marketing features and responsive design. The Relevancy Group suspects one of the reasons for this is that marketers get a little overwhelmed by the sheer scale of lifecycle marketing through the use of triggered and automated campaigns. It all sounds great in theory but then you get back to your office and think to yourself, “where do I even begin?” The good news is that to do data-driven lifecycle marketing a little better starting today you don’t have to boil the ocean. There are simple automated and triggered multichannel lifecycle campaigns that you can deploy to get the ball rolling. As this next chart indicates, there are a number of simple data-driven lifecycle and triggered campaign opportunities for email marketers to leverage in their efforts to improve their email marketing. The low rate of adoption means there is real competitive advantage to using these tactics. You should expect to see an immediate lift in engagement.
  7. 7. Page | 6 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Figure 5 – Types of Automated/Triggered Messages Utilized by Email Marketers - 2014 Question: From the following list please select which types of automated trigger campaigns that you currently utilize. (select all) Source: The Relevancy Group, LLC/Executive Marketer Survey n=374, 11/13, US Only, Mid-Market & Enterprise Respondents Let’s return to where we started—the most important question in email marketing today: "What do you do when you get them to do what you want them to do?” For example, what do you do when you finally get a prospect to subscribe? Automated onboarding campaign! Let the new subscriber know what they should expect from you. Studies repeatedly show that people are most engaged when they first subscribe and you can use an automated onboarding campaign to get someone in the habit of opening your emails. As another example, what do you do when you drive someone from an email to your site but they fail to complete a transaction? You send them a follow-up email reminding them of what was left in the shopping cart and offer a further inducement to complete the transaction. What do you do when someone who has transacted with you in the past stops engaging with your email? You send automated emails to let them know you valued their business in the past and would like to incent them to do business with you again. In a world where up to 70 percent of the people in your database who have transacted in the past 12 months may never again do so, this is a simple and effective way to get that percentage down. These are just a few examples to help you get started with your own program.
  8. 8. Page | 7 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Nerds of Email Marketing are Now Cool In the future of email marketing, acquiring and capitalizing on multichannel data is the key to success. Using this data to trigger lifecycle and other campaigns is game changing! The three things you need to start doing right now are: 1. Plan your customer pathways in advance—and remember they are not in a single channel. 2. Break down silos between your various channels (even if it is only one silo at a time). 3. Use data-driven automated/triggered lifecycle programs to enable your efforts and to customize experiences.
  9. 9. Page | 8 Research Sponsored by Copyright © 2014 The Relevancy Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. About Yesmail Interactive | | (877) 937-6245 | Yesmail Interactive delivers technology-led, insights-driven, and services-supported email marketing solutions that seamlessly integrate mobile, web and social channels. Their clients are sophisticated marketers who value the creation of meaningful connections. These clients understand that building relationships with customers who are media-saturated and increasingly distracted requires intelligent, original thinking. Yesmail Interactive attracts brands that want email marketing solutions that represent the leading edge of technology. Yesmail Interactive provides the insights that enable marketers to identify and understand customers in order to create lasting connections through relevant communications, driven by email and synchronized across all digital channels, while respecting the customer's unique preferences and privacy. Yesmail is the email marketing solutions provider within Yes Lifecycle Marketing, a solutions provider which holistically brings together multichannel marketing platforms and data, with creative and strategy services honed on the optimization of delivering relevant marketing messages. About The Relevancy Group, LLC | | (877) 972-6886 | The Relevancy Group provides market research, survey design and consulting. We assist marketers (buyers) connect with vendors (sellers) and manage the vendor selection process, each year we represent tens of billions of email messages that are out for bid for new solution providers. We provide educational and advisory resources to advance our clients and the markets understanding of relevance in order to deepen their customer relationships. The Relevancy Group is dedicated to educating the market on the imperative tactics needed to foster trust with consumers and improve an organization’s relevance within the broader online economy. Working with the leading brands, vendors and associations that comprise our economy, The Relevancy Group acts as an educator and trusted advisor in the aim of optimizing omnichannel connected marketing strategy and tactics. The Relevancy Group publishes research, educational resources and consults with businesses on vendor selection, mergers/acquisitions and other strategic imperatives. About The Author Chris Marriott – VP of Services and Principal Consultant, The Relevancy Group, LLC | On Twitter @CSMarriott A regular columnist to iMedia, Chris is an experienced digital marketer with a focus on creating data- driven experiences for customers of leading brands. Chris served as a tenured executive at Acxiom Digital Impact, running their worldwide digital and email services. More recently Chris served as VP of agency services for messaging technology vendor Strongmail. He is an expert leader in wrangling and implementing efforts to integrate email with other digital channels. Chris currently serves on the Board of Directors for eDataSource, a marketing services company that collects, analyzes, organizes and archives millions of marketing messages, providing intelligence and analytics to the email marketing community.