The jury may still be out on which festive TV campaign has been most successful but according to a direct marketing analysis Waitrose has won the Christmas battle of the inbox.
The research, carried out by Mailjet, analysed emails sent by nine of the leading UK supermarkets (including M&S, Tesco and Iceland) and scored them according to a range of direct marketing metrics including design best practices, personalisation, subject line, creativity of the content and, new this year, cross-channel elements of campaigns to test how collaboratively internal teams operate.
This year’s analysis saw Waitrose outperform premium rivals and budget grocers in almost every field.
A key contributor to Waitrose’s win was in fact its savvy use of cross-channel tactics, a category in which Waitrose scored 3.5 out of a possible 5.0 points. Unlike its rivals, the grocer also invested in the personalisation of its direct marketing campaigns, scoring and extra 3.2 points.
This year the strongest performance metrics have been seen in the “call-to-action” category, which rose to 3.2 out of 5.0 from an average of 1.9 last year. Knocking Waitrose off the top spot in this field alone, Lidl achieved the highest score with 4.9.
The key to Lidl’s success was the clever employment of custom buttons to ‘try recipes’ and ‘see upcoming offers’, giving new customers a clear next step in the purchase journey and existing customers the nudge to increase basket-size.
Mailjet director of marketing communications Michyl Culos said: “It’s clear that food retailers are feeling the pressure in a year that’s seen the likes of Amazon really double-down on the sector. For many, direct marketing is more important than ever as a means of driving revenue among shoppers at a vital time of year for sales.”
Despite cross-channel marketing being a commonplace email tactic across retail, this year’s campaigns revealed a serious gap in the supermarket sector. Grocers only scored an average of 2.2 out of 5.0 for cross-channel marketing inclusion, reflective of how few email marketing teams are aligned with the work of their social and wider digital teams.
Looking to the use of personalisation, this year’s study worryingly observed that Waitrose was the only supermarket to be able to personalise its emails with the customer name. The brand picked up additional points for choice of products and language used based on simple demographic tailoring.
Culos concluded: “UK grocers are in a unique place to hold one of the highest levels of point of purchase data about their consumers. However leveraging this to increase ROI during a peak season like Christmas cannot happen if barriers to collaboration exist between data and marketing teams. CMOs must rethink their marketing investment to ensure the right internal tools are in place to streamline teams and processes, especially as data points and team sizes continue to grow.”
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