How to trigger customer engagement

According to the latest Bellwether Report, UK marketers cut their budgets in the final three months of 2010 by the biggest amount in a year as confidence in 2011 plummeted. In addition, 32 per cent of companies said that they thought the financial prospects for the marketing industry as a whole had deteriorated.
And if that wasn’t all doom and gloom enough, the Government’s VAT hike and public sector cuts have sparked fears of consumers cutting back on luxuries / non-essential spending and refocusing on paying off existing debt.
Rather than being too apprehensive about what this year holds, however, marketers should simply rethink their approach. There are several exciting email marketing tactics that companies can use to overcome current industry challenges by building and retaining customer loyalty. These techniques involve more than just lowering prices; engaging customers who are investing more time researching offers and demanding more from a brand requires a marketing strategy focused on fostering customer relationships. Two tactics we predict will be key are sending triggered emails and utilising pre-opt-in behaviour.
Savvy marketers are discovering that thinking beyond traditional transactional emails to ‘Transactional 2.0’ pre- and post-purchase messages can boost revenue. Packed with highly relevant content that’s personally tailored for the recipient, these triggered messages are immensely powerful ways to connect with customers.
Many marketers only consider explicit data (e.g. demographics) when evaluating a customer’s level of engagement and what messaging would be appropriate for this person. But by factoring in implicit data, such as the specific behaviours a customer took, brands can get a better-rounded picture of their customers. Triggered and ‘lifecycle’ messages prompted by customer behaviours, demographics and preferences thus allow you to send a greater variety of tightly focused emails to relatively smaller segments of your database.
These individualised messages typically deliver several times the open, click-through and conversion rates of standard one-size-fits-all broadcast messages. And once set up, these automated emails virtually run by themselves, requiring just oversight, testing and occasional tweaking.
Another marketing technique that continues to grow in sophistication is behavioural targeting. By integrating email with Web analytics and other behavioural data, brands can deliver more relevant emails, increased conversion rates and a much desired boost to the bottom line.
Recently, new Web tracking capabilities have emerged that enable marketers to connect a visitor’s previous behaviour on their site with his or her email address when the customer opts in. And since visitors’ Web behaviours aren’t linked to their email address until they have opted in, the tactic maintains users’ privacy and stays within legal guidelines.
By taking advantage of this technology, even the very first email the customer receives can be relevant. For example, suppose a travel company’s prospect browses vacations in Italy and then opts in to that company’s weekly deals newsletter. If they didn’t know the prospect’s browsing interests, the first regular email received may not have any content or offers related to Italian vacations, but instead promote Spain or Portugal trips. But armed with this data, the travel company can assign the customer right to a track for Italian and similar vacation destinations, engaging the new subscriber right from the start.
As customers become increasingly empowered by social media and frustrated by cluttered inboxes, they are becoming more demanding and selective of how, when and what content they choose to receive – and share. To rise above the noise, brands must focus on understanding and communicating with their customers better. Using triggered messaging and behavioural targeting can help marketers more strongly engage with customers and foster long-term relationships and loyalty that will allow them to thrive.

Richard Evans, director of marketing – EMEA, Silverpop

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