A Quick Guide to Email Marketing for Retailers – Dispelling the Myths

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One of the frustrations we have as a team is how many of the myths of email marketing are still regurgitated and are holding email marketers back. Much of this exists within the retail industry,  so here are the top ones we would like to dispel.

Email Marketing For Retail - dispelling the myths
1) Frequency

There are many who are still scared of sending too often to their customers, and limit themselves to one email a week. Amongst all of the noise of other emails in the inbox, and the fact that maybe only a fraction of those sent will open (let alone digest and click) it is actually important to send more. Studies show time and again that increasing the email frequency totally outperforms sending fewer emails.

2) Unsubscribes are the biggest problem

This is incorrect. Maybe you get 0.1% or 0.2% unsubscribes each email. However many more people are likely to stop opening your emails as they are fed up with the irrelevant nature. Over time you could find 70% of your database won’t open any emails you send in a 6 months period – in the same time it’s fair to say maybe 5% would have unsubscribed. As soon as you realise this, the drive for improving the relevancy and value of emails starts to happen, and big differences to your email performance will kick in.

3) Personalisation is segmentation. Personalisation = relevance

No it isn’t on either point. Segmenting the database into 3 or 4 segments with different content is better than one size fits all. But it still assumes all of those people in each segment are the same – which clearly they are not. More of your campaign will be relevant, but for most it still won’t be.
Personalisation on its own is not relevancy as well. At a basic level this could be merging the name, a more advanced level might be based upon one of several rules. Neither of these mean your email will be relevant for everyone – for this you need to personalise for each individual, using everything you know about them. It gets more complicated but invest in recommendations, track what people are looking at online and simply avoid thinking you are relevant because of token personalisation gestures.

4) Avoid promotional language

The days when spam filters used to block emails because of the word ‘free’ or ‘special offer’ are gone. Choose language that is going to be the most effective and ignore the mythical doom mongers about spam filters.

5) I’ll make the most money from big ‘blasts’

You could argue this is still true. But where tailored, automated and relevant campaigns deliver is increasing conversion rates (cart recovery), increase frequency of purchase (first-time purchase recommendations) and increase AOV (Up-sell campaigns). These make your big promotions work a lot harder, and can provide 30% of all email revenue.

About Rupert Adam

Marketing Manager at Emailcenter, the UK's largest independent ESP.