Engaging consumers and getting results with email marketing

Another year; another holly, jolly Christmastime. Cue the office parties, the endless playlists of Slade, Chris Rhea, and Shakin’ Stevens, and the desperate search for an appropriate Secret Santa present. And, of course, the mild panic of brands – both big and small – as they contemplate just how they are going to stand out from the crowd during the year’s busiest sales period.  

They have a difficult task ahead. As modern consumers, we’re used to asking for more. More value, more engagement, more personalisation. It’s not enough just to have a good product or an excellent deal – we demand ‘an experience’, not just a transaction.

This is particularly challenging for brands in competitive markets such as the drinks industry. How do you keep attracting new customers whilst retaining the trust of existing ones? How can you get the wide range of cut-through needed to succeed in an omnichannel world, where customers are receiving marketing communications across SMS, email, social audience ads and instant messaging platforms?

It may seem a daunting prospect but, in reality, there is no need for brands to be so consumed by this festive fear.

As shown by leading brewer, pub operator and dotties 2018 winner Greene King, there are some simple ways to get your email marketing right and really engage with your customers.

Time to personalise

Greene King is an excellent example of a brand that has been able to pull punters – both old and new – in through an effective email marketing strategy. The secret to its success? Personalisation.

The brand was set a challenge: to extend strong early summer performance into August through a multi-brand CRM [Customer Relationship Management] campaign. However, they were conscious not to neglect frequent guests, as this would cannibalise sales and endanger profit margins. First, Greene King segmented its customer base, targeting lapsed customers and providing personalised £5 email vouchers to tempt them back, all with content that was customised based on their preferred brands and pubs.

It’s easy to just blitz customers with emails, forgetting about the relationship you are trying to build with them. Indeed, nine in ten brands scored just 13% for personalisation in our 2018 Hitting the Mark Report. However, Greene King realised that every customer wants to be recognised as an individual and to be given control over their relationship with the brand. The personalised message – that they valued their custom – was just as compelling as the offer.

Test, test, test

Greene King is a brand that maintains a rich heritage that has stood the test of time for over 200 years. It now runs over 2,900 pubs, restaurants and hotels across Britain. Nevertheless, it didn’t take for granted that size ensures loyalty and guaranteed success in its email marketing.

The brand took its time to test everything, to really optimise this campaign and make sure everything was right. For example, the best subject lines were selected and the most effective send times were identified. This patience, including properly gathering the relevant data, paid-off, with these targeted emails also helping increase redemption rates. And the process of learning hasn’t stopped there, with the successful tactics having been adopted across Greene King’s other reactivation and tactical sales campaigns.

As noted by dotties judge Jenna Tiffany, founder of Lets Talk Strategy, “this was a campaign that not only drove impressive ROI results, the team have also taken learnings to improve the rest of their email strategy.”

Keep it simple

A recent study found that over half of marketers (54%) felt that a lack of time was their biggest day-to-day challenge in connecting with customers expecting to engage instantly with brands, no matter the time or device.

That’s why, if you only have a matter of seconds with a potential customer, it is vital to keep your core message and offer simple. In this campaign Greene King had a clear call to action, an obvious reward and a specific timeframe to ensure the customer understood what the offer was, and where and when it was available. And ultimately it worked, with the brand overachieving on its lapsed guest and sales targets and generating a phenomenal email ROI.

In competitive markets and at peak periods, it’s easy to overcomplicate and lose the personal touch that is so vital. There is a real opportunity for brands willing to take the time to develop personalised and targeted marketing across multiple channels.

Remember, intelligent email marketing is for life, not just for Christmas!

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