March 15, 2017 V3 Printing

The Consumer Journey Redefines Email Marketing

The Consumer Journey Redefines Email Marketing

Like the rest of the marketing landscape, the world of email communications is evolving rapidly. It’s no longer enough to deliver commercially focused emails judged solely on sales, open rates, and click-throughs. For starters, today’s consumers seek stories, which means brands are challenged to deliver emails and newsletters that provide content of value around their products and to do so when consumers want to receive it.

The right copywriter, a tone that is “on-brand,” and relevant content are merely the baseline. “We are all trying to provide authenticity and content around our products that our consumers will continue to enjoy,” says Jocelyn Bonhomme, Global CRM Manager at Salomon. Speaking the same language as your customers, especially when it comes to technical or specific content, is essential. That’s why an outdoor-sports brand such as Salomon uses writers who are outdoors lovers, mountain guides, and former athletes with strong copywriting or journalism skills.

Soon enough, that language may be even more personal. Bonhomme—who previously worked in digital marketing in Patagonia’s European office—believes that it won’t be long before hyper-personalized emails will be the primary way companies communicate. The reason? Data management tools are changing how brands create, target, and deliver their message. “We are living in a hyperconnected world managed by data,” Bonhomme says. “I wouldn’t say that it’s easy, because it’s more and more complex to analyze this amount of data and to track customer behavior. But one result is that we, as brands, care very much about not overcommunicating or being too intrusive.” With more and more data available, companies can create solution architecture that is increasingly global, which sounds great, except that privacy policies are becoming increasingly stringent and less global.

Regardless of the constraints, the goal should be to support the consumer journey at the right moment with the right service, whether that consumer is sitting at their computer, looking at their tablet on the subway, or standing in a store aisle, looking for more info on their mobile phone. Digital insights on where a consumer is browsing and when he or she is close to making a purchase allow brands to interact with consumers and provide them with the most appropriate message at the best time. “A strong digital relationship is very similar to the person serving you in the store,” Bonhomme says. “A good salesperson can read the consumer in the store, see his or her body language, and respond to their needs. When it comes to sending an email to a consumer, we now know when to send it. It’s a matter of building a relationship so that we converse with them when they want to converse with us.”

As you’ve likely noticed, brands are also becoming very good at merging social media and email marketing on the consumer journey. In fact, Bonhomme regularly has calls with both social media and email marketing experts, something a job like his might not have entailed just a few years ago. “From an on boarding journey, we advertise on Facebook to register for our newsletter, welcome them with an email, and then send them one or two additional emails with content on our website and consumer events in their area,” he says.

In the future, Bonhomme says that brands might be less inclined to influence consumers to buy one way over another and instead will try to support consumers with the best, most well-timed service, whether online or at retail. “We are already there in terms of people checking online for prices, comparing product offers, checking opening hours, and looking to see if a product is available in a store nearby,” he says. These are just a few ways that micro-moment marketing is influencing email marketing and consumer journeys.

The consensus among marketers is that these same practices will translate into other industries outside of retail, such as fundraising, conference attendance, or recruitment for colleges and universities. We will be taken beyond the traditional experience of triggers and automated emails into hyperpersonalization of content, offers, and timing.

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