Research Shows Customer Experience Email Marketing Helps You Build Stronger Engagement

As you start to plan your 2019 email marketing program, think about this question: What is the purpose of your email marketing program?

We usually think marketing is a means to end – to drive more conversions, qualify more leads, spread more awareness, all in the service of higher revenue, deeper customer engagement and greater business growth.

However, that view is no longer enough to achieve these goals in a highly evolved digital world that’s awash in message clutter. We need to shift our focus, from using marketing to achieve our goals to seeing how we can use it to help customers achieve theirs.

Enter Customer Experience Email Marketing

That’s our name for this new approach to email marketing. It centers on building customer relationships instead of relying on brand-focused broadcast campaigns to drive sales, grow profits and create long-term customer loyalty.

Essential aspects of that customer relationship-building include personalization, relevant content and content that’s customer-focused rather than brand-focused.

The essence of CX Email Marketing lies in a simple question: “How do my emails help my customers achieve their own goals and objectives and be successful in the parts of their lives that my products/services touch?”

Why CX Email Marketing is different: It comprises three concepts – helpfulness, personalization and customer-focused content:

  • Helpfulness: Elements in a message that would help your subscribers, customers or users achieve their objectives, however grand or simple. They can be anything that we can do to make the customer experience better.
  • Personalization: Incorporating preference data in segmentation, behavioral data in triggered messaging, or real-time contextual elements to make a message more helpful and underscore the email’s customer-focused nature.
  • Customer focus: Copy and tone that encourage sales (or other conversions) by focusing on benefits to the customer instead of selling features.

Reader engagement correlates with CX Email Marketing

I’ve been working with this new vision of email’s role in marketing, but I didn’t know for sure that I was on the right path until my company partnered with Liveclicker on research to see if connections really exist between CX Email Marketing and reader engagement.

We began with this hypothesis: Putting CX Email Marketing to work in an email campaign will deliver higher engagement results.

Our research centered on emails that 82 retail and travel brands sent to UK recipients. We also used data from eDatasource to look for relationships between different kinds of email and customer actions and reactions.

Our primary finding: Email campaigns built around helpfulness, personalization and customer focus drove higher reader engagement in business-as-usual emails.

I’ve highlighted some of our key findings and methodology below, but you can get all of the details in our report, Customer Experience Email Marketing: Getting Ahead of the Consumer.

Findings from the study

First, here’s how we did the research:

State of CX Email Marketing: We took three non-transactional emails from each brand in the study and scored each email from 0 to 3 on each of the three CX Email Marketing factors: helpfulness, personalization and customer-focused copy.

Then, we averaged all nine scores across the three emails to determine the overall CX Email Marketing score for that brand.

Reader engagement: We compared each email using eDataSource’s engagement metrics, which measure subscriber actions: the percentage of recipients who read the email, read and deleted it or deleted it without reading.

Here’s three results from the study. Download the full report to find out more:

  1. The average overall score among all brands for each CX Email Marketing pillars:
  • Helpfulness: 3.46/9
  • Personalization: 2.08/9
  • Customer focus: 2.60/9

This showed us email marketers have to work harder to make their emails more customer- and service-focused. Although helpfulness ranks the highest among these three factors, the lower score for customer focus tells us that marketers are couching their helpful content in features rather than benefits.

  1. Brands whose campaigns scored above average earned higher reader engagement than those whose emails scored below average.

This supports our hypothesis that emails that score high on one or more CX Email Marketing factors would have higher read rates.

  1. Those higher read rates are often significantly higher, often more than double.

This finding shows promotional emails that score high on the CX Email Marketing scale will generate significantly higher engagement than lower-scoring emails.

We focused on promotional over transactional emails because transaction emails, which reflect behavior, are naturally more helpful, personalized and customer-focused than broadcast and business-as-usual emails.

Concluding thoughts: Everybody wins with CX Email Marketing

CX Email Marketing helps you navigate the delicate balancing act between customer and company goals. You achieve your goals when you help your customers to achieve theirs.

It can be hard to see this at work when your own goals seem far off in the future. If you need to see a short-term goal, here’s one: Customer-focused emails that are helpful and personalized are more likely to capture attention in the inbox – to get opened and acted on.

That’s the necessary first step that must happen if you want to stay on your customer’s radar. Everything else flows from that.

In a customer-focused world, everybody wins! Your customers achieve their goals; you achieve yours. The result is a mutually beneficial relationship with the potential to endure into loyalty.

by Kath Pay, CEO
Holistic Email Marketing
Member of EEC’s Education and Events Committee & Member Advisory Committee