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Email marketing: The disconnect between expectation and delivery

In a recent interview with MediaPost, I set out the importance of personalisation and relevancy for email marketing. The bottom line is that if a customer wants an item they’ll buy it. So no matter how much stock you have to shift, if it is not of interest to the shopper forget it – because they will.

When it comes to delivering relevant marketing many retailers are still falling short. The technology to do so is available but it is not yet being utilised by large organisations. This boils down to the fact that many of the big brands are lumbered with legacy systems that simply weren’t built for today’s omnichannel retail landscape.

As a result, there’s a gulf between what is expected by consumers and what is actually achievable with the systems retailers already have in place. Restrictive outdated systems mean retailers are unable to recognise or track customers and therefore have no way of identifying individuals, let alone what products would be of interest to them.

Instead, retailers are blindly pushing surplus products over email that they want to shift. This backwards way of selling will only result in margins being wasted on unwanted stock and time. Retailers must focus on what they do know about customers to personalise and, if possible, localise email content.

Every email should still comply with basic rules of being concise, clear, timely and feature a strong call to action, while focussing in on content relevancy for that specific individual. This doesn’t mean that every single email must be completely different from the next, rather, retailers may have thousands of slight variations of the same emails based on what customers have shown an interest in.

The concept is simple, yet this is still a big leap for most. I would suggest retailers, looking to embark on implementing a successful email marketing strategy, start by concentrating on the basics and recognising their customers. For example, this can be achieved by delving into mobile app sign up data or loyalty scheme log-ins.

Whether achieving email personalisation is a small step or a year down the line, one thing is for sure, all omnichannel retailers will need to implement it at some stage to meet the ever-growing expectations of today’s connected consumers.