Let’s just say, content marketing is the new black.

By now you’ve noticed nearly every brand is ‘doing’ content marketing. Don’t get me wrong, we do too and I’m a huge fan of content strategy and content marketing. Just remember you need to pimp your content. I suggest adding email marketing, it’s one new strategy along with an old, one is silver and the other is gold. Maybe three snowclones is more than I needed to make my point, but they’re all valid.

More content doesn’t necessarily mean more website traffic or a bigger bottom line, your audience needs to know your content exists. Especially for retailers who regularly have new content, announcements and offers to share with your audience. Email marketing is the best extension of your content strategy, it’s a way to share everything you have to say with your audience by leading them to content and landing pages that meet your business objectives. Knowing email is typically the number one driver of web traffic, it’s about time that strategy feels the love from your marketing team and the people who sit in the corner office. 

How much email should you send?

It really depends on your audience’s behavior. In short, if your audience is responding to your emails the same way I respond to Banana Republic, then you can email them more frequently! Now Banana Republic, or Gap for that matter is not a client, but I use them as an example as retailers tend to have bigger wins than other industries with this strategy. While we don’t work with the clothing retailer I just mentioned, we do work with a variety of retail brands and have helped them up their email marketing game.

Last year alone, our team sent more than 245,000,000 permission-based emails on behalf of our clients. I don’t say that to brag, well maybe just a little, but it shows we know this strategy and more important we know how it relates to retailers. 

Email’s Evolution

People have been saying isn’t email dead for years now. The first email was sent in 1971. In digital marketing terms, that’s like a million years ago and probably why some folks just assume it’s dead. Over the years, people have predicted instant messaging, SMS text messages, social media and more would replace and eliminate email. Well none of these technologies have killed email and I don’t expect email to become extinct anytime soon. That’s because the strategy has evolved over its life and now serves marketers and users better than ever before. Knowing that email is continually evolving, here’s three reasons it’s a retail brands best friend.  

1. Email is Personalized

When done right, email is a win-win scenario. It delivers a high ROI for brands and provides utility for consumers. Unlike other marketing channels, email marketing allows you to control exactly what you send to whom. Delivering this type of targeted and personalized messages is not typically found in other digital strategies.

At its simplest form, personalization is found by adding relevant information to the recipient’s subject line. This could include their name, products they’ve purchased or have an interest. We tested this tactic with a retail brand we work with by including the name of a product the consumer recently purchased in the subject line. When doing this simple form of personalization, the variation in open rates was 21% higher and click through rates were a jaw dropping 42% higher than the control group.

Executing personalized campaigns, means truly understanding your audience and delivering messages based on their interests and needs. Consumer journey maps are your key to moving beyond a first name basis with your audience. Remember, a journey map is more than pretty pictures. It documents what your customers are truly thinking, feeling and doing while identifying the impact points on when and where to reach your audience. A key to getting started is focusing on the micro journey, which is a way to start simple and use data to see how your email campaigns and website. Map out these simple impact points and turn them into strategies that look at the behavior and buying process. This will fuel your content ideas and boost your retail business by reaching your audience at the right time, with the right message.

2. Email Reaches Your Audience in a Location They Regularly Visit

An old cliché says, if you want to catch fish, you need to go where the fish are. Email helps you reach your audience at a location they visit every day, their inbox. As I mentioned earlier, email is not dead. In fact, it’s expanding and being used more than ever! Your audience has easier access to email than ever before. Nearly every smartphone has an email platform and 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices. If that doesn’t impress you, nearly 75% of Gmail’s 900MM users access their accounts via a mobile device. So, smartphone owners use their device to check email. More important, buying trends show consumers now make over half of their online purchases from a mobile device so, it’s critical for your email to be mobile friendly.

Overall, people are not abandoning email. If you’re a retailer and your email numbers are decreasing, it’s likely that your content and offers does not relate to your audience. If that’s the case you’ll find benefit in the personalization tips already mentioned, or updating your database.   

3. Email Delivers a Better ROI

There are LOTS of reports proving email delivers a bigger ROI than other marketing channels. According to Campaign Monitor, for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. I know, it’s hard to believe that statistic and rightfully so… For that reason, I’ll add quick disclaimer along with some context. Will every email yield this result? Probably not, but your average ROI from multiple campaigns should deliver this rate of success. That means you’ll have some campaigns above this number and others that will surely be lower. The key takeaway is email marketing tends to provide an ROI that is at least twice that of paid search and other digital strategies.

More important than any other statistic, is shoppers are more likely to make additional purchases as a result of email campaigns. The Direct Marketing Association suggests that 2 out of 3 people have made online purchases as a direct result of marketing emails. Beyond that, marketers who leverage marketing automation within their email marketing have seen conversion rates as high as 50%.

I mentioned earlier that our team works with a variety of retail brands. Red Wing Shoes is one of our favorite success stories. Using a variety of email strategies, our team helped increase their year-over-year revenue from email marketing by 126%.

Understanding how email marketing can grow your retail business is your first step towards success. Next is sending some emails! Here’s a resource to help you get started.