Best Practice Article
How To Develop a Customer Centric Strategy in 5 Steps
2011 was the year that saw social media and email marketing begin to merge but in 2012, the most effective digital marketing strategies will have the multi-channel customer at their centre. The benefit of integrating your digital marketing strategies is that your brand will always be exactly where your customers (existing and future) are. This offers them more choice when deciding which channel to communicate with your brand through. By opening communication with customers in their preferred channel, you efficiently strengthen the overall return from your campaigns and improve conversion rates (in terms of lead generation, brand awareness, sales etc..). In this month’s Best Practice article, eCircle UK Managing Director Simon Bowker shows you 5 integrated digital marketing trends to follow if you want to implement an effective “customer centric” strategy.
The integration between social media and email marketing is just part of a much broader evolution towards cross-channel marketing, with the customer at its heart. The common factor across all marketing channels is your content (offers and promotions, product recommendations, UGC …). Using this content to create a dialogue can lead to your customers taking action, with the objectives to create and share stories via social networks and generate word-of-mouth by sharing emails. This all adds value to your brand and your related campaign by extending its initial reach.
To combine various channels, you have to give people the freedom to use them naturally and then engage with them by offering information of real value and which is share-worthy. This can be done by integrating your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and so on) with your traditional email marketing tactics such as newsletters, in advanced marketing automation scenarios and all other forms of email marketing.
This year the use of integrated channels will continue to increase and it’s not only email and social. It’s also about data, mobile, offline interactions and much more. In the end, it’s less about the channels and more about the prospects, customers, dialogues, mutual value and conversion.
Here, we have identified 5 email marketing trends that you can incorporate to form a “customer centric” strategy and increase your ROI.
1. A warm welcome to the multi-channel consumer
Don’t just look at your database as email addresses. Your prospects and customers are people, with their own personality and preferences, and this individuality is what matters. Email can be the centre of a complex web of dialogues that aim to generate marketing goals including lead nurturing, client acquisition, cross-selling/up-selling, customer retention and much more. Email marketing programs should not be considered as an isolated channel where people are only segmented based purely on their demographic information. Multi-channel consumers have a series of attributes (behaviour, preferences, social interactions) that make them completely individual. Your prospects and customers are increasingly choosing what, where and how they inform themselves, communicate with and buy from brands. It is your task now to collect as much information as possible about this behaviour to enrich their profiles, and in turn your database, to offer content which perfectly matches these individual preferences/needs and improves your communication.
2. Effective email marketing does not exist without content marketing
Content marketing is the use of content for achieving sales and marketing objectives, again with a clear focus on the prospect and customer. Key factors to consider when communicating with consumers is the relevance of the content within the customer’s lifecycle and according to the contact point. The days of “editorial” uniformity in email marketing are over, and that applies to both informative and promotional content. Multi-channel consumers are increasingly looking for relevant content and personalised offers. The relevance of the content for the email recipient, is a much more important element now that they have the opportunity to share it over social networks. The Global Online Consumer Survey from Nielsen revealed that 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people that they know, with a majority 70% also trusting opinions posted by unknown users. Increase your reach by sending consumers this targeted, relevant content to promote sharing of recommendations with their friends and followers.
3. The role of social content in email marketing
With the partnership of social and email channels, email marketing has evolved as the central part of dialogue with customers as part of the overall cross-channel communication. However, this doesn’t always mean that people will openly respond. Seeing an interesting subject line and reading an email, even if sometimes no link is clicked, leads to an action and thus generates interaction with the customer. Maybe they react to your brand message by posting on a blog or on their Facebook page, so it is vital that you monitor all the channels and integrate them into your email marketing strategy to generate a constant flow of new information to/from to your data systems (CRM, web analytics, social media, e-shop). The content in your newsletters should be dynamic, to respond to individual preferences and user-generated where possible, containing effective social content such as blog posts and product reviews.
4. The growing importance of triggers, events, behavioural data and scenarios
In a universe where customers are central and they choose which media and when they want specific information, automated ‘triggers’, scenarios and event-based interactions are essential. All ‘digital signals’ for example, behavioural data and feedback from the email recipient, should be collected and integrated in order to generate communication that is as personal as possible. All data collected from web-forms, social media, ecommerce and anything else you know about the customer’s preferences via interactions, contributes to the refinement of the prospect/customer profile and therefore, your communication. Controlling the timing and content of the emails is increasingly placed in the hands of consumers and setting up scenarios and triggers depending on these needs becomes essential to retain customer engagement with your brand message.
5. Promotional messages become more important in the multi-channel world
Recent digital trends confirm that modern day consumers forward more promotional emails now than over past years. Make them more valuable and put the consumer central within your marketing universe. The significance of relevant, event-based and personalised content becomes more important in email marketing. Content is everything that engages someone and urges them to take action. Furthermore, like it or not, promotions, discounts and special ‘deals’ are still the most important reasons why people start following brands on social media and even care to register for marketing programs. Promotional emails are growing in importance and email is becoming more important to communicate relevant content that will be shared between followers and friends. At the same time, there is also a shift in marketing objectives towards customer retention and loyalty. Customer satisfaction leads to customer acquisition in a connected world thanks to the positive word-of-mouth that happy customers generate on the various channels they’re using to communicate.
This article is a summary of eCircle’s newsletter "Inside Digital Marketing". If this article was forwarded to you as a recommendation and you wish to receive further news from the email marketing sector yourself you can subscribe here.