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Customers expect brands to understand their needs, they want personalised messages and relevant engagement – as long as you are delivering value to them. Audience segmentation and personalisation is such a discussed topic and a mature technique in today’s marketing landscape – surely we are all using it? Or are we just scratching the surface; just doing some email subject line personalisation, relying on the content and design and waiting for the tills to start ringing – without moving beyond?
New research by Smart Insights & Adestra reveals that, despite a plethora of available tech and suppliers in the market, companies are still not sufficiently engaging with customers throughout the lifecycle or strategically personalising their marketing communications to move towards first-person marketing. Real, meaningful engagement seems beyond their grasp.
A foundation of modern marketing, even simple personalisation offers a huge opportunity to drive conversions and customer loyalty. But developing a structured audience engagement plan – which is easily achievable with modern Email Service Providers – means providing targeted and relevant communications wherever they are in the lifecycle. That’s where brands can really step up a gear and show long-term growth.
Marketers shouldn’t flatter themselves or be under any misapprehension, it’s a major problem – but it’s also an opportunity to use the big data and tech available to improve their marketing. The survey of 600 global marketers found using un-targeted, un-personalised email communications was surprisingly common, with 22% not using any segmentation at all. In addition, less than a third of businesses rate themselves as having a ‘defined’ audience engagement capability for their email campaigns.
Segmentation – is batch & blast dead?
The report investigated the degree of targeting, asking how many segments were used within marketers’ email marketing across all campaigns and newsletters. Who thought batch & blast was a thing of the past? Despite the benefits of sending personalised messaging to targeted audience segments, 22% are still sending the same messages to everyone.
Generally, over time the number of segments used will be growing, as technology allows us to collect more data to use for personalisation. We can use automation to deliver dynamic content, targeting relevant copy and offers for each segment. But only if we move beyond batch & blast.
The chart shows that many marketers are using just 2-5 segments when targeting with email, with more than 6 in 10 (63%) respondents indicating this. Just 14% of marketers are more advanced, using between 5 and 25 segments.
How engaging are you?
The research shows that most survey respondents (nearly two-thirds or 62%) are at the initial or managed capability level. This includes little or no audience lifecycle engagement plan, a limited or simple understanding of profile and journeys and only basic targeting.
Kudos to the 27% of businesses that rate themselves as ‘defined’ (or higher, just 11%). This is a good target level of competence which means that you are deploying most of the best practices and technology options available – such as contact strategies mapped to contend, detailed customer journey and personas, nurture and abandon emails, emails triggered by web visits – but the approach is not yet fully optimised.
Automated engagement: beyond the welcome programme
Everyone is well used to an automated welcome programme, but what are the other popular email marketing sequences used within marketing automation? Just a single welcome email is the top strategy used by 4 in 10 (41%), followed by re-engagement of inactive subscribers (34%), behaviour-based triggers (such as abandoned cart). Multiple welcome emails (a sequence) are also used by 3 in 10 (30%).
This highlights the popularity of welcome sequences and initial welcome emails. Yet it’s surprising that an even higher proportion of businesses aren’t using them. Related techniques such as progressive profiling, although gaining popularity, are still only used by just under a quarter (23%). Reactivation and behaviour-based triggers are used by many marketers, too – it’s great to see the popularity of such techniques and to see marketers using the technology available to them. As the rise in marketing automation platforms continues, so we expect to see the use of such tactics climb.
Marketers are using these techniques to help to convert and build relationships with customers, but customers are demanding more personalisation than ever. This means techniques such as date-based campaigns, purchase prompts and progressive profiling will be needed to meet customer expectations.
Marketers need to turn up the pressure on using big data and make the most of the automation features possible – start by mapping out at a plan for the different types of welcome, nurture, upsell and reactivation techniques you can use.
Techniques used to achieve integrated engagement
Marketers are always looking for the best techniques to use for re-engagement. Let’s look now at which automated techniques they are using.
Retargeting is a popular technique among marketers. We found that many are either planning or already using ad network retargeting, Google AdWords retargeting and retargeting using social networks. It was also found that many are also sending follow-up emails based on interaction with products or content and previous emails. While some marketers are embracing the automated techniques available to them, others are struggling. The key finding is that website personalisation, based on previous purchases, is relatively under-used. Many are planning to do it, but are not yet implementing it.
Customer engagement poor? Generate results using first-person marketing
We’re all under pressure to move away from batch & blast towards an ideal of 1:1 digital marketing. Organisations are increasing their ability to respond to consumers at scale, but many are still hesitant about where to start, how much to commit and how to make this approach work for their business.
With a customer engagement plan in place, marketers can target customers with relevant communications wherever they are in the lifecycle. Many brands are working towards this and some have already achieved it. It’s a compelling goal – real long-term engagement – and who doesn’t want to do better at that?
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