Written By: Jason Sisley
EVP of Strategy, Inte Q

As an email marketer, it is your role to stay current with evolving email marketing technology and implement robust email marketing campaigns relevant to the audience and the overarching marketing goals.

But while campaign goals may vary, there are a few overarching email marketing themes:

  • Increasing engagement rates
  • Increasing customer acquisition
  • Improving customer retention
  • Improving email personalization

Helping to reach these all-important goals requires thoughtful, deliberate investigation into what it takes to engage specific customers through advanced email strategy. For Inte Q, this has meant staying abreast of changing technology and applying a holistic approach.

Email Marketing Strategy

In the context of email marketing strategy, Inte Q takes a deep dive into customer engagement and the meaningfulness of clicks. With this approach, we take a step back and examine the factors driving customer action, and the overarching goals of the business.

For example, we applied a holistic email strategy approach for a hospitality client that was running an email welcome series. They would send emails to customers newly enrolled in their email program. The series centered on branding, but the ideal action was to motivate customers to book a stay at one of their properties.

A successful email campaign toward this end goal would lead users through a short sales funnel to a call to action (CTA) — in this case, booking a stay. Our inquiry focused on a central question: Does clicking on the email ultimately lead users to the action of booking a stay?

A thoughtful analysis gave us insight into key conversion drivers, well beyond email clicks and open rates.

Analyzing Email Messaging Effectiveness

A key concept of our email marketing approach centers on the validation of set benchmarks such as:

  • Do we have the right benchmarks in place?
  • Do the benchmarks lead to the actions we want a customer to take?
  • Does the CTA in the email lead to a higher conversion rate or improve brand interaction?

If email recipients do not respond positively, we need to apply further analysis and continual testing, seeking answers to questions such as:

  • Does the landing page need enhancement?
  • How does the approach compare to competitor campaigns?
  • Does the email fit with the brand’s typical messaging?
  • What do customers know about and expect from the brand?
  • What is the goal for future customer communications?

To reach accurate conclusions, we apply a multi-tiered testing approach, focusing on validation and optimization.

Is There a “Perfect Email” Approach?

Much has been written about what it takes to craft the “perfect” email. By applying both art and science, we can get closer than you might expect.

Email is in real time — you can’t recall an email and start over to fix an issue. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. You have to get things right the first time. Start with a validated hypothesis in the planning stage. Before you send your message, make sure you get all the little details right — we’ve seen all errors, even blank subject lines.

From there, we turn to real-time reporting to drive continual improvement. Advanced email analytics allow for constant optimization and improvement through both science and art:

  • Science tells us what to do next.
  • Art enables us to add elements that make it easy to get customers to respond to the CTA.

Email Marketing Content & Design

Marketing automation and data points are critical to successful email marketing, but they won’t impact subscribers unless the content is dynamic and the design is engaging.

Design content is as important as written content. Visuals and design elements must grab the reader’s attention. Approaches that focus on aspects like special email design grids, powerful imagery, and sharp, colorful graphics are the most impactful.

Design elements should also help turn the written CTA into a more compelling message.

Enhancing Personalization with Real-Time Data

Email personalization has evolved much further than simply inserting “Hello, <insert first name here>”, at the beginning of an email. While this tactic has proven to increase engagement, personalization can be taken much further than that. Advanced email strategies involve using real-time data to deliver personal, relevant, and emotional messaging.

Real-time data helps us to:

  • Develop an understanding of customer behavior and motivation
  • Stay on top of what’s going on in the world
  • Keep track of customers at an individual level
  • Craft personalized, service-oriented emails aimed at building customer sentiment with the brand

For example, suppose we detect that a customer is about to move or get married. This information opens new points of contact we can make to deliver emotionally connected emails. Someone going through a major life change may interact with your emails differently. Their lack of engagement may not mean a disinterest in the brand, perhaps their focus has shifted.  For customers who have become disconnected from the brand, this kind of information can fuel a relatable communication to re-establish a link.

Email Remains Central to Brand Communication

It seems that every year, new articles never fail to discuss how the newest communication channel is the email-killer. In truth, email, enhanced by other channels, will remain the centerpiece of brand communication.

Customers still prefer email, provided the brand offers effective, personalized email programming.

As a notable example, customers routinely cite Chewy.com, the online pet supply store, as an industry leader in customer service. The company’s customer service is built around its email program. Whether it’s to resolve specific product or service issues, celebrate pet birthdays, or send sympathy messages, Chewy uses email to connect with their customers and demonstrate, loudly and clearly, that they care.

Key Takeaways

Personalization is the centerpiece of an advanced email strategy. Before embarking on a personalization-focused email marketing campaign, however, it’s crucial to develop a holistic understanding of customer behavior, purchase drivers, and other elements that affect conversion, retention and overall customer lifetime value.