I’m not a big online shopper, but two months ago I took the plunge – I bought a pair of jeans online. In creating an account with this retailer, I starting receiving their daily emails, but I didn’t engage with them. Why? Like I said, I’m not much of an online shopper, and (to be totally honest) their subject lines didn’t really appeal to me. Personally, I don’t really care “What’s mandatory for spring”.
About a week later (a week of irrelevant emails, I should add) the jeans arrived. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite right. While I was checking out their return policy, I noticed a promotion for “free shipping if you purchase over $50”. This piqued my interest, so I shopped around for a bit and put a few things in my virtual shopping cart. Unfortunate news again – one of the shirts I wanted was out of stock in my size, so I couldn’t reach the minimum $50. No free shipping! I decided I wasn’t interested and moved on.
How Many Emails is Too Many?
The next morning I got an email reminding me that I’d left items in my shopping cart. Totally reasonable! At Marketo, we actually recommend sending these kinds of emails – often, the shopper just needs a gentle nudge. But then, one hour and 19 minutes later, I got a SECOND email from them – another one of their daily emails.
Annoying right? But because I’m an online marketer interested in email strategy and consumer behavior, I wasn’t annoyed for long. Instead, I got curious: What was it about this second email that bothered me so much? Why hadn’t I bothered to unsubscribe from a daily email that I never read? This retailer had a great opportunity to create a relationship with me – where had they gone wrong?
It might sound counter-intuitive, but enlisting the help of technology can actually make your emails feel a lot more personal – especially when you’re sending emails to huge lists. Here’s what I took away from my experience:
1. All subscribers are not created equal.
Just because someone is subscribed to your email list does not mean they’re actually reading your emails, let alone interested in them. We subscribe, often without thinking, to email lists all of the time, and (especially with innovations like Gmail’s new tabs) it’s all too easy to ignore our crowded inboxes. Don’t take for granted that everyone on your list is engaged! This also leads to my next takeaway…
2. Look at overall behavior.
If this retailer had been looking at my overall behavior, they would’ve realized that I wasn’t engaging. Was I opening the daily emails? Had I clicked on any of their links? If they had been using marketing automation to send their emails, they would have seen that I wasn’t engaged, and could have considered another approach. They could have asked me what I wanted to hear about or they could have allowed me to set my own subscription preferences. Some subscribers, like me, don’t want an email everyday. Instead, maybe a monthly email would have been enough to keep me happy and maintain the relationship.
3. Visibility is key.
Last but not least – was the retailer even aware that they sent me two emails within 79 minutes of each other? Clearly, they were looking at their daily newsletter in one place, and their abandoned shopping cart emails in place. Perhaps separate marketing functions were in charge of each email type.
If this retailer was using a marketing automation platform like Marketo’s, they’d have had the technology to look at my experiences and behaviors across all channels and across all emails. Using automation (especially something like our Customer Engagement engine), they could have tailored an email marketing program to me, sending a couple of emails a week – less, if I stopped opening them. They could’ve populated those emails with products I had actually looked at, increasingly my likelihood of making a purchase. Some retailers are even using automation to notify shoppers when an out-of-stock item returns – like that shirt that wasn’t available in my size.
So in all of those ways (and others), retailers can use technology to make their marketing feel more human, relevant, and personal. How are you using technology to give your marketing a human touch?