Whether you realise it or not, you are in constant competition to win the attention of your consumers. You’re competing against every single communication an individual on your list receives – every day. While your customers may engage with your brand on a regular basis, their loyalties don’t just lie with you. The most recent report dotmailer sponsored from the DMA reveals that 30% of respondents claim to receive more than 40 marketing emails per week. If the reality is anything like this volume, those getting heard will be performing beyond the norm. And they are your competition.

Email is still the preferred channel for marketers and consumers alike. But with 84% of consumers finding less than half of the emails they receive to be relevant, you need to be doing more to add value to your communications.[1] As humans, if we’re privy to irrelevant conversation, we tend to switch off quickly. It’s no different in the inbox. The window of opportunity to appeal to your consumer is small; one in three consumers delete marketing emails after reading the subject line.[2]

There’s no ROI to be made in irrelevancy. But those that strategise to deliver relevant marketing campaigns will achieve the highest open and click rates, and the greatest sales growth. This blog post looks at what it takes to be relevant to your consumers, so you can win the battle of the inbox.

5 tactics to make your marketing communications relevant

1 – Timing

There’s no right or wrong day or time to send email, but there ARE some that are better or worse, and these depend on your audience. What behaviours can you identify in your customers? One of dotmailer’s current retail clients has recently seen success by extending its abandoned cart program and optimising by send time. Through testing, the company identified that its best conversion time for abandons was Sundays, between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm, which is now when it sends the final email in its campaign.

You can use your own data to work out the best send time for your business. As always, be sure to split test your campaigns regularly to maintain the accuracy of your strategy.

2 Message

A relevant communication will convey a message that adds value to the consumer’s day. In December, for example, a relevant message could be details of the last order and delivery dates for the holidays. What’s more, the message needs to be relevant to the recipient’s stage in the customer lifecycle; existing customers should not receive a first-purchase incentive, but might be much more interested in joining a loyalty program.

Getting your messages as relevant as possible means using your consumers’ past purchase history and likely buying patterns. The best messages will use data from your brand’s various channels to predict and send targeted content based on what a consumer is likely to purchase in the future.

3 Segmentation

Segmentation is one of the most powerful tools to drive relevancy, and, when used effectively, it can monetise your data like nothing else. To be useful, your segments should enable you to provide your contacts with more relevant messages; for example, a useful segment to have is a ‘newly acquired contacts’ segment, which is built upon a simple communication idea, like “Thank you for signing up.” Simplicity is key – remember that the more niche your segments become, the fewer customers will receive your emails, which depletes your chances of a healthy ROI.

4 – Stage in the lifecycle

Practising strategic lifecycle targeting will ensure that your company avoids the pitfalls of the batch and blast approach. Different customers are (clearly) at different stages in their relationships with your business, and should be communicated with accordingly. From the enquirer, to the first-time buyer, to the repeat purchaser, each stage requires a different set of engagements to drive relevancy.

5 – Recency

The sooner you can react to consumer behaviour, the more likely your communications are to be successful. This is where an email marketing automation platform like dotmailer comes into its own; setting up automated programs allows you to react to behaviours on mass scale.

Abandoned cart campaigns provide a great example of this: an email alerting someone to their abandoned items within minutes (rather than hours), returns significantly better results. dotmailer’s client, the vintage British brand Cabbages and Roses, has a three-part abandoned cart program. The first email is sent just after abandonment, and achieves an average conversion rate of 19%, compared to the second email which is sent 24 hours after abandonment and only achieves 6% conversion.

Achieving Relevancy

Let’s look at how you might put these ideas into practice.

There are three evergreen follow-up campaigns that should be triggered by customer behaviour:

  • Welcome sequence – triggered each time someone joins the database
  • Abandoned cart alert – triggered by a customer leaving the site with products in their cart
  • Post-purchase follow up – triggered by a successful delivery

Each of these programs can be built from a single email and scaled up as you progress. No excuses!

Where’s my data and how can I use it?

Retail makes available a gold-mine of data for the marketer to capture. Remember that the good use of data is what drives relevancy.

Data that might trigger communications:

  • Interactions with communications – e.g. opens and clicks
  • Buying behaviour – e.g. a purchase
  • Personal data – e.g. date of birth, due date, anniversary etc.

Data that might influence messaging or personalisation:

  • Product data – purchases; items a customer has viewed or saved
  • Website behaviour – frequency of visits; items viewed
  • Buying behaviour – how many times a customer has bought; average spend value; time of purchase (time of day; day of the week; time of the year)
  • Personal data – e.g. name, address, date of birth, due date etc.

The key to successful relevancy in email is to start small and scale quickly. Relevancy is not about identifying every customer action from which you can trigger a sequence of communications. It’s about working out the most powerful and appropriate sequences to build for your customers, and then perfecting these communications.

Email marketing automation supports time-poor marketers

So, you know what data you need to get working for you, but you don’t have the time or people-power available to tailor and hand-deliver every relevant email marketing campaign to each of your contacts individually. Who has? An email marketing automation platform like dotmailer is the most cost-effective, time-effective way to gear up for the race to retail relevancy. Drag and drop your way to on-brand, personalised campaigns that meet every requirement your business has. Then set up programs that trigger emails based on your customers’ behaviour. Relevancy doesn’t have to come at the price of your resources. When prioritised, it’s the easiest tool to bag you the top spot in the inbox.

Want to know more about driving relevancy with email marketing automation? Take a look at our top tips for 2017.


rohanbw1-002Rohan Lock has more than 10 years’ experience helping e-commerce brands optimise their digital marketing. After heading up dotmailer sales and account management and subsequently as group sales director based in the UK, Rohan, a dotmailer veteran, has recently moved back to Melbourne as a means to develop the brands presence in Asia-Pacific. Now as dotmailer’s regional director, Rohan works with local integration and agency partners, as well as key global relationships and integrations, including Magento, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, to bring dotmailer’s technology offering to local organisations.

[1] DMA Consumer Email Tracker Report, p.13.

[2] Ibid., p.17.