Successfully seizing opportunities for inbox innovation can help manage the evolving expectations of consumers. Here is how email marketers can take a "carpe diem" approach to inbox innovation.
Today's inbox has the potential to be more innovative and interactive than ever before, connecting cross-channel experiences across the customer journey. The potential is clear, but maximizing the impact of email still has a lot of potential for most marketers.
With email technology advancing at a rapid pace, consumers are quickly developing new expectations across their email and cross-channel experiences. They expect context across all communications and valued content that delivers on their needs at the right point in time. We see this clearly with new, disruptive business models that use data to deliver heightened value, such as Uber's transparency around driver location.
The innovative inbox plays a key role in delivering on these expectations and making an impact on the business. Yet many marketers are still playing catch-up to seize these opportunities in the inbox and beyond. Prioritizing opportunities and building an innovation road map is an important first step. Without agreed upon guidelines, email marketers remain in the ceaseless cycle of building one-off campaigns driven by business urgency and other short-term desires versus long-term success and evolution.
To truly begin seizing inbox innovation opportunities, the following areas need to be considered:
Three Key Questions to Ask Team Members:
- What is the business's customer journey map?
- Has it been mapped out to include touch points across channels?
- Are there spotty communications covering some key areas of the journey or complete gaps in other areas?
It could be that some areas suffer from over-communication, while other areas have never been talked about. Most organizations are still mapping out the journey across channels, with mobile being a key opportunity (Read more...) push notifications and location-based communications.
Permission Sets the Early Engagement Stage
Gaining permission with an email opt-in is the start of a more meaningful customer journey. In terms of innovation and driving customer action, the early engagement stage is the time to set clear expectations with consumers about the type of experience they will have with a brand. Wow them early with innovative content that delivers value and generates a response through some action step. There are many opportunities to differentiate and innovate early communications to align with how new subscribers discovered the program - be it web, contextual site content, or text-to-join at a real-world venue.
Gather Data to Initiate Actions
Keep the interactions going by asking for data as the relationship expands into different lifecycle stages. This can be as simple as a "Yes/No" question in an email, followed by an automated lifecycle program. Expand and test this same approach via mobile push innovation, and possibly enrich push notifications to better understand the impact of channel preference, content, and format.
Turn Data Into Action
Use data as quickly as possible to align with the consumer's expectations. For example, test the impact of knowing a consumer's gender, brand affinity, or location. The data possibilities are infinite, so keep thinking with the end goal in mind to prioritize gathering data and where to apply it across life cycle communications.
Email and Channel UX
With permission granted and a clear customer journey map, as well as data and testing capabilities, marketers can shift focus to the user experience. Here lies the opportunity to innovate, add value, and truly differentiate a brand. The inbox today should anticipate a consumer's next step with recommendations, continued data gathering, valued content, and more. Today's LiveContent capabilities deliver weather reports or maps based on real-time location. Also, social feeds and video content can boost the impact of messages to drive more engagement and conversions. The user experience that is delivering value will win with consumers.
The time for inbox innovation is now, with each email communication representing an opportunity for great user experience, relevant content, and value to the consumer. Today's inbox is innovating more rapidly than ever, delivering consumers with the best experience possible that is aligned across channels.
Seize the opportunity, email marketers!
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