Want Your Emails to Bomb? Just Keep Them Irrelevant.

By ​Jacob Ajwani

November 11, 2013

Individuals today are exposed to over 5,000 ads per day, compared to 500 ads per day in 1970. - J. Walker Smith, executive chairman, the Futures Company

In our multi-screen world, today’s savvy shoppers are relentlessly bombarded with marketing messages. But these shoppers are well-informed, and they use avenues ranging from Amazon reviews to feedback cultivated from social circles to formulate their own opinions. And this ultimately means that they can proactively select which messaging to pay attention to—and which ones they can mentally opt-out from.

So the big question is, how can marketers differentiate their messages from all the others?

The common response to the challenge is that marketers increase the frequency of contact with the shopper. Some call this tactic “branding,” but I call it delusional. Batch-and-blast emails are insincere and a fantastic tactic to grow one’s unsubscribe list.

While I fully agree with the Edelman Trust Barometer report from 2012 that stated 63% of consumers need to hear company claims three to five times before they actually believe it, impersonal business-as-usual emails aren’t the quickest route to conversion.

The key to conversion is to stop wasting the shoppers’ most valuable currency: their time. It's crucial to thoughtfully communicate with your base at the right time with the right message. The two most vital attributes of successful email strategies are trust and engaging content—and these two traits are built through relevancy.

Epsilon released a North America Email Trends and Benchmarks report, based on 2013 Q1 data, which spoke volumes about the value of relevancy. Their report reveals the click-through rate on triggered messages was 116.9% higher than business as usual messages, while the open rate was 60.8% higher on the triggered version.epsilontable

Here are two examples of effective email campaigns that delivered better and more relevant messages:

Targeting abandoned browser sessions

This technique doesn’t target shoppers with items in a cart, but rather it focuses on shoppers much higher in the funnel. It targets people who abandon their browser sessions because they get distracted, or because they’re researching but not ready to buy just yet. Ledbury methodically keeps visitors engaged through this practice. Here are some tips on how to get these potential buyers back on your product pages:

ledbury

  • Use your analytics to identify which category or product pages have the highest abandonment rate.
  • Select the top three to five category or product pages and then produce relevant creative to educate shoppers even more about these categories or items. You can always produce creative for the other pages as time permits.

  • Keep it friendly and simple.

  • Show products from related categories. If the shopper was looking to purchase dog food from a pet store, populating the email with a cross-sell for Frontline flea & tick treatment would be an appropriate recommendation.

Reclaiming sales with triggers

According to a report from IBM Coremetrics Benchmark, cart abandonment reached 65.66% across US retailers during 2012’s Black Friday.

You should already have an email campaign setup on triggers based on items in the cart, Motivating shoppers with urgency is a sharp tactic to reclaim those sales. One of the more creative and effective ones I’ve seen was Amazon’s use last year of a marketing calendar, which echoed the Advent calendars from my childhood. The interesting caveat: Amazon didn’t resort to providing discounts every single day.amazon

Here are 2 short tips to keep in mind this holiday season:

  • Stress that inventory is limited. While these terse little phrases seem cliché and powerless, the thought of availability evaporating is actually a strong psychological motivator.

  • Keep the content simple. Don't drown out the volume of the urgency messaging with tons of other product recommendations or messaging. The urgency messaging should be the most prominent real estate.

The shoppers’ inboxes are congested with promotions from dozens of travel discount portals, flash sale sites, financial institutions, and traditional retailers. Business as usual emails won’t activate the shopper, but relevant ones do.

If you’re already targeting visitors based on in-session browsing journeys, let me know. I would love to see other creative examples and hear about their effectiveness.

Jacob Ajwani is a former strategic services director at Monetate. As an early member of the Adobe Test & Target team (back when it was called Offermatica), Jacob became an established voice within the industry, pioneering personalization strategies for premier brands such as Audi, Disney, and Condé Nast. Between Monetate and Adobe, Jacob spent two years as vice president of client services for Cognitive Match, which focused on display ads, big data, and relevancy. Jacob is also an avid guest-blogger for Econsultancy.com.

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