What makes email an integral part of growth hacking strategy
It is a verified fact that around 35% of world’s population uses email. As the Radicati Group puts it, the year 2016 sees 4.62 billion email accounts and the figure is assumed to cross 5.5 billion mark by the year 2019. They have interesting figures to share. It is estimated that daily 196 billion emails are sent across the world out of which a stunning figure of 55% amounts to business or commercial email.
Simply put no other marketing tool is as lively and powerful as email marketing which connects with people on one-to-one basis. Email is an integral part of one’s life and when you personalize it, it establishes and instant connection with the recipient.
Another important factor why growth hackers trust email marketing is its innate integration with mobile. For other platforms, you and your team may need to spend in getting the product integrated to the befitting platform – be it app or through website. But you needn’t worry when your campaign is run through emails – making it the most preferred and easily accessible means of communication.
If statistic and data are to be considered, email marketing tops the chart in generating higher ROI as compared to other marketing channels. None other channel has been able to drive and push sales as much as an effective email marketing campaign has done.
So if you cannot strategist a plan using this powerful tool, then probably you will never be able to monetize or tap on to any other medium.
E-Mail marketing in 2017 prediction
Ever since the advent of internet based communication, if there’s one revolution which took the world by storm it has been email. With the changing technology and recurrent innovation, many became redundant but email has still been able to keep its ground. This fact in itself is the biggest validation that email will also be the preferred choice of communication for the future as well.
So what are the predicted trends for Email-marketing in 2017? Here’s a bird-view of what lies in store.
Trend # 1: Automation
Though automation has already started taking shape, more and more integration of features would enable the marketers to personalize the email experience which would lead to addressing the right aspect for the right audience. Automation would also mean precision in timing and thus targeting the audience at the right moment.
Trend # 2: Analytics
With the growing complexity of features added to the email marketing matrix and it giving out vital data, rigorous efforts are be put to include these into CRM and ERP systems, helping the organizations inch closer to customer allegiance. Thus analytics based on email marketing will emerge as the major source of critical consumer behavior and product perception linked data.
Trend # 3: Marketing Tools
While the current trends are already pointing out that email is bound to be the most preferred personalized marketing tool, 2017 is the time when data would validate it. While other methods will not be able to retain or engage the customer to push them to the next stage of customer life-cycle, email marketing would score high as far as customer traction and optimizing the growth funnel would be concerned.
Trend # 4: Email Design
With emerging technology, traditional email coding has given to way to email design which has empowered the email by many folds. This email design has spoilt the marketer for choices for the email which was once very simple and a boring text is now all bold, catchy and responsive. Modular templates have changed the way email coding or personalization happens, leading to quicker and easier edits, lower campaign costs and better targeting. These emails when optimized will be able to engage the audience more meaningfully.
Trend # 5: Kinetic Email
Avant-garde emailing solution for 2017 would be Kinetic emailing where one would not be limited to GIFs but be able to deliver better and influential animations allowing the brand to form a very strong image in the user’s mind and making interaction more engaging and exciting.
Trend # 6: Advanced Data Mining
Kinetic emailing solutions becoming the ready-to-use tool for communication, this innovative consumer interaction medium will reveal more and more insights at every point of interaction or communication. When one would be able to pin point “What is that works and what doesn’t”, wouldn’t the content or the context of communication become more relevant and engaging? These vital insights when combined with data mining will skyrocket revenues and ROIs for email marketing by unprecedented folds.
Trend # 7: Advanced Consumer Experience
When one sums up the trends 1 to 6, one is bound to offer its customers, what they want to see. With the customer enjoying its communication and interaction experience with a brand, the chances of retention will be boosted. Customer allegiance would be high resulting in lower customer lifecycle cost and higher ROIs.
Just when one talks about future trends and what’s going to work and what not, allocating a marketing budget always seem to be a crucial exercise. While one wouldn’t want to be too stringent, here’s why you should not lose the race just because of not opening the wallet when required!
Reason # 1: Your customers prefer Email
Reason #2: Email is the choice of your competitor
Reason #3: Impressive ROI generated by Email
Reason #4: Non-stringent Budget to improve ROI through effective testing
These four pointers are self-explanatory allowing us to draw the conclusion that one should not neglect email – whether as a means of communication or by underestimating its effectiveness and reach. Neither should a marketer question the ROI that email generates. By repeatedly testing the effectiveness of your email campaigns, one is able to hit the bull’s eye – but again one needs to assign the required budget for the testing and not crib it eating away the resources.
All Fair, Let’s start with E-Mail Marketing …the growth hacking way, how to create email lifecycle for your startup. Essentially, the entire email lifecycle and engagement strategy is divided into 6 stages, keeping in mind the work done with email as the core tool and customer as the core element.
Typically, this is again divided into three sections.
- Email Engagement Behavior and actions followed – it is essential to study the behavioral pattern of customers with email engagement at various stages to gauge which is that one factor or for that matter a combination of factors which finally pushes a customer towards making a purchase. These stages for example could be email viewed, opened, skimmed through it, clicked, redirected to site, categories viewed, purchase made.
- Influence of vivid marketing channels to guide a customer on the way to purchase – Each marketing tool (Display Click, Social, Organic Search, Paid Search, Email, Referral, Brand Paid Search, Direct) has a different purpose and the way it engages with the customer for a brand. The beginning of any interaction focuses on creating the awareness of a brand and as the channels vary or differ, the awareness turns into likeness and the decision for a purchase is made which often tends to be the last interaction; and post that a new lifecycle starts.
- How different customer segments behave from the first to the last stage of a customer lifecycle – Each customer segment responds to a brand campaign in a different manner. While a particular segment (For eg: 1st time users) may take a long time in the initial brand awareness, another segment of customers may take time in making the actual purchase (frequent users who would want to compare products of different brands with different ecommerce players). Hence which again acts as the trigger for which segment needs to be researched and this can be done through research methodologies, focus group interviews, quick surveys etc.
4. Life-cycle Strategic Phases
- E-Mail type of classification Customer Segmentation (Order size, duration of Purchase, Category of Purchase, frequency of Purchase, targeting user on the last day).
- E-Mail design for each category.
- Driving , Achieving, Executing- – Email marketing strategies and execution Roles.
- Planning and forecasting marketing spends in email Marketing.
- Latest trends in updating E-Mail marketing industry.
Types of E-Mail
- Cart Abandonment E-Mail.
- Order Receipt Confirmation E-Mail
- Apology E-Mail
- Post Purchase Reports
- Welcome E-Mails
- Storytelling E-mail
5.Audience Identification / Segmenting your audience
It is important to identify your audience and segment them for randomly targeted marketing campaigns would mean a burden on your pocket and lesser ROI; whereas the growth hacking approach would be to narrow the customer segmentation as much as possible for maximum monetization of the campaigns to work and for higher ROI. Segmentation is also necessary so that you are able to push the dormant customers to the active stages or the next stages of the lifecycle. The prime activity here then becomes segmentation; so how does one segment a customer.
Below are the ideal parameters on which one can have customer segmentation for effective campaign designing.
#1 Segmentation by Referrer / Traffic source (offsite customer behavior)
You need to have a campaign tracking setup by which you can see how customers / visitor types differ in their journeys through the site and the value they generate through each traffic source viz:
- Email campaigns and newsletters
- Social media sites (a custom segment of all social media sites or an individual site like Facebook)
- Direct traffic
- Search engine marketing
#2 Segmentation by Visitor Type (Customer’s Engagement with brand)
The way a customer engages with the brand helps you to define his relation with the brand and thus can be classified on these behavior patterns. While some may need further variables to classify or segment them appropriately, broadly speaking, customers can be segmented in the following manner:
- New visitor V/s Returning visitor
- Non-registered V/s Registered visitor (requires use of custom variables)
- Non-customer V/s Customer (requires use of custom variables)
- Technology platform used, e.g. iPhone, Safari browser
#3 Segmentation by Location / Geography (Visitor characteristic)
Geographic Demographics are important when your product or services can be different for different regions. A highly popular campaign / product in one region would perform poorly elsewhere. Hence geographies also play a vital role for decision making. An example of segmentation based on geography can be as below:
Again this geographic segmentation when combined with other variables like age / traffic source / visitor type etc gives you a better insight.
#4 Segmentation by Content Viewed (on-site customer behavior)
Termed as On-site Customer behavior, a customer’s interaction or behavior with the various onsite engagement mediums is used for segmentation. When you study the customer’s engagement activity on one of these onsite mediums, insights for other mediums will be very clear.
Segmentation can be done on the following mediums:
- Key landing page
- Product page
- Checkout complete
- Folders for large organization
#5 Segmentation by Landing Page Type (combination off-site and on-site customer behavior)
Landing pages typically show the combination of offsite and onsite customer behavior. They way these landing pages drive traffic to your site says a lot about the use of your landing pages. When using Google Analytics, you may come across the term entrance pages instead of landing pages. Studying these pages, you may get a fair idea of how your customer behaves.
#6 Segmentation by action taken
Similar to segmentation by content viewed, this segmentation helps you mark points which areas are helping customers jump to the next stage of the lifecycle and encouraging them to make a purchase. So ideally at which point a customer gets converted, or how the customer gets converted becomes the segmentation parameter.
- Segmentation by type of conversion
# 7 Segmentation by value
Deemed to be a conventional segmentation technique, segmentation by value is put to use more by direct and email marketers; though all can view the advantage of recognizing the source of high net value customers. For this segmentation, it becomes mandatory for you to set up Google Analytics accordingly to track these said values.
#8 Segmentation by demographics
Demographics play a very vital role. The way your said customers behave has got a lot to do with where they live, what age group they fall into and other social parameters. But the only glitch here seems to be the setup with the analytical tools as it is indeed tricky. One needs to set the parameters where one is able to extract this information yet not turn away the customer.
Segmentation could be done on
- Age, Gender, Academia (for B2C business types)
- Size of business, type of sector, or job role / personal role (for B2B business type)
Setting up demographics segmentation with Google Analytics can be real tricky, for at many instances like asking for email information or any unique information would mean you violating their terms of services and landing you in a soup. If this segmentation is what you desire, it is advisable to use a different analytical tool or system.
#9 Segmentation by Engagement
This segmentation takes into account the time a customer spends on the platform. For segmentation purpose, you would use parameters like:
- > 4 pages
- <2 pages
- > 9 seconds
- < 11 seconds
This time duration or the parameters set allow you to decide the content importance and the placement of the same.
#10 Segmentation by Technology platform (Visitor Devices and its Characteristics visitor)
A very broad segmentation to identity as to which tech platform gives you the best customers in terms of high value and where do you need to push your campaign. This again needs to be combined with a lot of characteristics as each platform has its own positives which others lack. Segmentation can be done on:
- Type of browser used and its version
- Resolution of the Screen (for non-mobile platforms)
- Mobile platforms (Android, Blackberry, iPhone)
6.Determine Engagement Strategy
At every juncture, we would like to stress on the importance of engagement. If your engagement with the customer is not meaningful or not regular, chances are high for you to lose the customers at a very high rate. The engagement strategy planning can be broken into three aspects which you need to keep in mind while you craft the strategic road map.
- Number of emails (What quantity of emails will convey the message which you wish to convey – welcome email, reminder / re-engagement mails, post-purchase thank you email etc)
- Frequency of emails (The time duration between two emails sent)
- Showcasing Call To Action with every email (Reinforcing the brand and the idea that purchase is exciting is with us
7.Cross Channel Opportunity
Engagement can be amplified when cross channel messaging is put to practice. An Email sent promoting a particular brand or offer can be backed by sending out an SMS or by app notification thus improving chances of fruitful engagement.
8.Map Out and test core elements
A program performs in a different manner when it is hypothecated in an ideal situation and when it is put to practice in actual conditions. While a hypothesis is necessary, it is also essential you list out the key points / the vital factors that define your goal for each phase of the life cycle. After the large business goals are defined, you need to define the metrics which would guide you to validate your business plan or hypothesis. Only defining the metrics would not suffice. You would need to test every campaign’s performance by testing each component individually – subject / text / content / image / animation – to keep you the insight as to what may churn out the maximum engagement.
9.Establish Metrics & KPI
A/B testing for all the components of your email will help you understand and identify those little pointers that can act as performance boosters and may dramatically skyrocket your engagement level. Do not fail to keep a vigilant eye on the rising and falling of customer’s engagement patterns hinting that you need to trigger some action plan. Never underestimate or take for granted the preferences and behavior of a customer. What is liked and appreciated today may be rejected tomorrow. Keep re-inventing and re-innovating for one is never perfect and there always is a scope of improvisation.
“Innovation happens at the edges & at the intersections of product/marketing”. I live at the intersection #conversion specialist with an eye for disruption #CRO