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As commerce moves further away from transactional models, every marketer must confront the truth that consumers demand to be engaged. A recent Gallup study shows that “fully engaged customers” account for a 23 percent premium in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth. In contrast, disengaged customers account for a 13 percent discount.

And yet, customers demand such intimate, constant attention that the task of engaging with a high volume of them seems impossible.

Luckily, there are tools that can help businesses automate some of the more tedious aspects of relationship management and devote more attention to their bottom line. Email marketing has been one of the most effective of these tools, mainly because 91 percent of consumers still use email on a daily basis.

But it’s about more than wide reach.

Email campaigns work because they present a win-win scenario: The customer feels appreciated and engaged, and you spend less time and money keeping them focused on your brand. Email campaigns perform some of the same functions of traditional sales and marketing, but with more efficiency. Customizable, automated campaigns ensure the right emails go out at the right time to the right people. Intelligent reporting then delivers insight on important metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and time-spent reading.

There are many different kinds of content that marketers can use during the customer journey. Let’s take a look at a few common examples.

Welcome Emails/Confirmed Opt-In

These are the emails a customer receives when they initially subscribe or join a mailing list, which can happen in a variety of mediums (online, in-store, or in conjunction with a purchase). Research shows that welcome emails have a 50 percent average open rate, which means they’re highly effective compared to other forms of content. Marketers can also camouflage info solicitations in these confirmed opt-in emails.  I.e. “Thanks for signing up. Click here or login to complete your profile.” This works especially well with email service providers that integrate with customer relationship management software.

Drip Campaigns

The phrase “drip campaigns” originated from a clever intravenous simile. Drip campaigns “nurture” consumers with content as a hospital would nurture a patient with an IV drip. Except in the marketing context, the objective is to educate customers about products and keep your brand at the forefront of their mind. Hospitals presumably have a different goal.

The emails are typically dispatched at regular intervals, such as once a week. On average, nurtured leads make 47 percent higher purchases than non-nurtured leads, because drip campaigns build a rapport with each consumer over an extended period of time. Drip campaigns can also be targeted based on user behavior, like interaction on your webpage.

Surveys and Feedback

Many organizations like to send emails out after a customer makes a purchase or uses one of their services. If you’ve ever rented a U-Haul truck or stayed at a hotel booked through a travel site, you’ve been a part of this. The dual value of these emails is easy to see: the customer gets an opportunity to voice their opinion (with a review), and you get an opportunity to gauge your business’s success and make improvements.

Abandoned Shopping Carts

No, not like the abandoned carts in a parking lot. We’re talking about the kind customers leave on your website when they select a product, but then leave the site without purchasing it. Such actions shouldn’t be dismissed - these scenarios are actually golden opportunities for future sales.

An abandoned cart can be a trigger for an email inviting the customer back, perhaps even offering a special discount as an incentive. Many big name ecommerce sites are already doing this and seeing magnificent results (like Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys R Us, and Bass Pro Shops). If that doesn’t work, send a second email. Second abandoned cart reminders lead to 54 percent more sales than first reminders.


Numerous companies now offer optional e-receipts, which are little works of marketing genius. The customer thinks, “Well, yes, it would be nice to get my receipt digitally. That way I won’t lose it/have to carry it in the bag,” etc. And voila, you have their email address.

Once you have an address, don’t let it go to waste. Design your e-receipts to deliver transaction records, but also carry content suggesting similar products or services the customer might be interested in. E-receipts with up-sell suggestions have higher click-through rates than any other kind of e-receipt.

How to Win with Email Campaigns

Now that you have a better understanding of email marketing’s power, here are some basic tips for making your next campaign a successful one:

  • Personalize emails improve click-through rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent.
  • Let recipients choose their delivery preferences. Only 35 percent of marketers ask their customers how often they would like to be contacted, and the top reason people unsubscribe is because they receive too many emails.
  • Use data and analytics tools to contextualize content based on behavior. For example, 58 percent of people check their email first thing in the morning, and 51 percent of all email is now read on mobile devices.
  • Think outside of the box. Some marketers have turned to alternative email strategies, such as deliberately making emails less visual (sans graphic design) in order to make them stand out and boost clicks. Be creative, and don’t let your email become a “mark-as-spam” victim.

Email campaigns have a lot working in their favor when it comes to managing relationships. They execute communication goals using reliable automation; offer customers responsive, varied content tailored to sales funnel position; and return specific, valuable insights to your business. Your sales and service reps can spend less time fiddling around with minutiae and be better equipped to handle the sales opportunity when it finally comes. And it will come.

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