Today’s empowered consumer will only invest time in messages that communicate relevancy and drive value, and it’s up to brands to woo customers in order to win their business. In a crowded inbox – 269 billion emails are sent and received each day – uninspiring emails will be tossed into the trash without a second thought.
As marketers, it’s our duty to understand customers and treat them as individuals. And while context in email marketing is king, it’s easy to forget that surprising and delighting customers can also make a lasting impression.
5 tips to blend randomness with relevancy
1. Play with context
Email is your go-to touchpoint for customer interactions, and while it’s important to feature your product offering, it’s more important to showcase your intelligence and understanding of customers; these qualities drive brand credibility and loyalty respectively.
By leveraging rich customer insights – such as buying behaviour and location – you can contextualize messages, tying the customer journey back to the individual’s environment.
Irrelevant messages make email recipients likely to not only ignore email, but to take negative actions such as marking it as spam. Communications that ooze brand personality and resonate with customers are proven to maximize their engagement and prompt them to take the desired action.
A great way to contextualize your email marketing is by sending weather-related messages to contacts based on a live forecast. For example, you can recommend products that complement the weather in real time: barbecues when sunny, raincoats when drizzly and accessories for your snowman to don when the blizzards set in.
With the right level of insight, retailers can use weather rules to populate emails with smart, relevant content that incites emotion and maximizes engagement.
2. Exceed customers’ expectations
To foster genuine advocacy, brands need to continually push the boat out. Today, simply delivering on your brand promise isn’t enough; you need to overdeliver in a meaningful way. Giving subscribers something when they least suspect it can truly enhance their experience.
- Surprise sign-up gift – thank subscribers for joining your mailing list with a surprise gift. It’s common practice for brands to use incentives as a prop to lure people in at the sign-up stage. However, the positive effect can be greater if you hold back and surprise prospective customers once they’ve joined your list; for instance, by sending them a coupon for £10 off their first order. Subscribers will feel like they’re getting something special for nothing – a gift rather than an exchange for data.
- Out-of-the-blue freebie – offering a free product (i.e. a sample or voucher to redeem in store) to lapsed customers can awaken their love for your brand. To strike the perfect balance between relevance and randomness, thank the recipient for the last purchase they made using historical ecommerce data. It’s a great talking point and by making someone’s day, you’ll hopefully generate some great exposure for your brand through positive social posts and word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Rewards for feedback and reviews – to make customers’ experiences more memorable, surprise them with a gift for their feedback.
3. Celebrate random holidays
While it’s common practice for brands to email customers over popular holiday periods – such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day – your messages run the risk of getting lost in all the noise, endangering your engagement metrics. However, capitalizing on a holiday that isn’t as widespread can give you a competitive advantage in a quieter inbox.
In 2009, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba adopted ‘Singles Day’ – an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration – as a prime online shopping event during what’s considered a traditionally low volume sales period. Driving relevancy to the millions of singletons in China, Alibaba made a colossal $25.3 billion in sales on Singles Day 2017. This goes to show that brands can popularize unfamiliar holidays and make significant gains.
There are many weird and wacky holidays throughout the year, from ‘Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day’ to ‘Bicarbonate of Soda Day’ (which is on 30th December, if you’re interested).
When applying randomness to your email marketing, it’s important that the topic still resonates with customers. Make sure your holiday of choice:
- marries up with your brand’s personality
- provides a topic of conversation that inspires social sharing
- drives customers to take your desired action
Download our full cheatsheet to get tips on our favorite random holidays – which include dress up your pet day!
4. Employ game mechanics
For an email to draw people in – over and above visual appeal – you need to invite them to participate and connect with you in an innovative, playful way. Gaming urges subscribers to interact beyond the bounds of a simple call-to-action, which can be uninspiring by comparison.
Capitalizing on the relevancy of the message can spur people to take an action; for example, associating the game with customers’ previous behaviors (sign-up, purchase etc.) makes an exchange of their time more appealing. You’ll need to ensure the game has that fun-appeal and is benefit-driven, otherwise subscribers won’t view it as worthwhile.
To gamify your email marketing strategy, explore activities that are all about chance:
- Puzzles – encourage subscribers to unlock potential offers/win gifts
- Spinning wheels – let customers gamble for discount types and amounts (i.e. percentage, money-off)
- Online board games – prompt players to roll the dice in an attempt to win different prizes and advance various stages to enter exclusive competition draws
These techniques can enhance your KPIs – such as click-to-open and conversion rates – and boost revenue. What’s more, encouraging interaction in email can have a positive impact on your deliverability; email clients such as Gmail will attribute higher engagement rates to your domain, improving your sender reputation and inbox placement.
5. Shake up your subject lines
First impressions matter. The subject line is the first prompt for subscribers to either open, ignore or trash your email; 50% of recipients open emails based on subject line alone, whereas 69% report emails as spam on the same basis.
So, how do we incentivize the reader to open? Should the subject line mirror what’s in the email or should it just be completely random? Although some marketers opt for something outlandish that catches the reader’s eye, the subject line should echo the email’s contents, otherwise it could be damaging to click-through rates.
Brands are increasingly adopting subject lines based on context. By leveraging your real-time customer insights, you can drive out-of-the-blue messages with a well-timed tease that rouses interest and triggers those all-important opens.
People’s attention spans have, in the past, been likened to that of a goldfish. And the sheer volume of email traffic makes it an even tougher job for marketers to grab the reader’s eye. The key is to tap into those powerful emotions and feelings: urgency, curiosity, excitement and joy. To achieve this, you’ll have to be data-driven, original and conversational.
Download our cheatsheet for a deep-dive into contextual and captivating subject lines.
Give randomness a go!
As busy, always-on individuals, we’ve no time for meaningless communications. Today’s savvy consumers want to be treated like individuals through conversations that are thought-provoking and original. Don’t neglect your indispensable customer insight – which is your greatest asset – in place of a flat, uninspiring email strategy. Driving relevance on the premise of being unpredictable will win consumers over, every time.
For more insights into driving relevancy with the unexpected, download our cheatsheet here.