Content that matters: The Engagement Ecosystem

December 13, 2016
Garin Hobbs
Garin Hobbs

December 13, 2016

In my last article I encouraged email marketers to focus on creating quality, value-based content experiences before focusing on fine-tuning tactics, such as send-time-optimization. Regardless of when an email is sent or opened, customers look at the sender first and immediately decide whether or not your message has enough value to bother opening (subject lines come a distant second).

Brand perception and expectation of experience are the most critical factors impacting email open rates. These are intrinsic motivations. Cheap incentives such as percentage-discounts and free-shipping are extrinsic motivations, and are far less effective (and far more expensive) than organic engagement. Here’s why….

“Discount-blindness” is real. The consumer audience is bombarded with billions of selling messages every day. Averaging several estimates, an American’s individual daily share is around 450 solicitations, across all forms of media. That’s a lot of noise.  Now even if all of those ads are within immediate eyesight, the reality is that our brains see very few of them. Our senses our subjected to over 11 million bits of data every SECOND. However, the average person’s working memory can only handle about 40-50 bits, max. That means we ignore 10.99 million bits of data every second that we’re awake.  In our world of new channels and increasing traffic, it becomes critical to reduce that noise-to-signal ratio. The obvious challenge is how to get it right.  Today, email content must be personal and relevant to rebuild trust and deliver a valuable experience.

One message does not fit all, and people open and click for different reasons. If your message basically comes down to “BUY THESE ITEMS NOW”, you’ve essentially alienated everyone who isn’t dying, to buy your handbag. If a consumer is out of market for whatever your campaign is promoting, give them an additional experience value to engage them now and keep them opening in future. Different personalities are predisposed toward different content and channels; website, social, video, etc. However, they all read email, so your message content should include as many of those channels as possible. Bring in some blog content for the info-driven or provide tips for customers to get more use or value from the things they’ve previously purchased. You can also offer weather and local events to help passengers plan ahead and use videos and animated GIFs which are effective for increasing read-length. Polls and games also lend a fun and interactive element, and user-generated social media content is a great way to give the audience a share of your brand’s editorial voice. Bringing all of these things together in email helps to create an engagement ecosystem.

But with limited time and resources, how can marketers curate cross-channel content and cultivate meaningful email experiences when they’re so busy with daily blocking and tackling? You can start by looking to content automation and let technology do all the heavy lifting!

  • API Feeds – The same product and customer data APIs that power your website can also be used in conjunction with logic filters to inject personalized, real-time content and data into your email campaigns
  • Web crops – Images and info from websites, landing pages, and other digital properties can be programmatically called into email content.
  • Social Feeds – User generated content is a great way to extend asset libraries and can be automatically inserted and updated using feeds
  • 3rd Party Feeds – There are hundreds of free and paid data feeds available to marketers, providing valuable data to help influence consumer actions: weather/tides, pollen count, UV index, surf and ski reports, sports scores, news, stocks and financial stats, etc.
  • Loyalty Feeds – Including real-time loyalty status is an effective way to increase average order values and inspire incremental purchases.

Don’t have an army of ready and willing IT resources? Agency services, combined with solutions such as Movable Ink and Kick Dynamic offer simple yet powerful ways to digest APIs and automate content via data feeds. Providers such as Olapic are a great way to automate and leverage UGC and involve consumers in the brand story.  Loyalty platforms such as 500Friends offer elegant solutions for visualizing and merchandising live loyalty status and program data. Instead of blasting customers with untargeted, uninspired promotional messages, you can create content in emails that builds intrinsic engagement, interactions and experiences. By doing so consistently, you can build sustainable increases in performance and revenue, rebuild trust, loyalty and preference, as well as preserve margin by moving away from costly extrinsic motivators such as discounts. content-matters-listing

Tags: Digital Marketing, Digital Strategy, Email Marketing, Email Strategy

Vice President, Client Solutions - Seattle Garin is an accomplished sales and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience building brand awareness and revenue. With a career spanning across ESPs, agencies, and technology providers, Garin is known for his ability to grow email marketing programs, help launch new technologies, and develop the strategies and thought leadership to support these endeavors. By specializing in optimally aligning people, processes, and technologies, Garin has delivered meaningful improvements in consumer experience and program revenue for such brands as Gap, Starbucks, Western Union, Bank of America, United Airlines, and Hilton Hotels.

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