I recently attended the MediaPost Email Insider Summit on beautiful Captiva Island, where I spent three days talking about customer-first email marketing and enjoying the Floridian sunshine. This event had fewer attendees than most conferences I’ve attended in the past and hosted scheduled networking activities in the afternoon. These two factors lead to some great in-depth conversations with my fellow attendees about the intricate world of email marketing.

Related Content: How To Deliver Relevance With Your Email Marketing Strategy

In today’s ever-changing landscape, our role as email marketers has broadened in ways I never dreamed of when I first started working in email back in 2007. No longer are we only responsible for hitting “send” on a message that looks decent at the correct time—we are now the gatekeepers to a wealth of customer data and preferences, and are responsible for leading the conversation with our customers on a daily basis.

As the technical sophistication of email marketing has grown, so have customer expectations. No longer are they just “subscribers,” “customers,” or “prospects.” They are members of our brand community and their loyalty can be won or lost in the crowded inboxes of today. Customer-first email marketing is now industry best practice.

Customers aren’t just subscribers. They are members of our brand community and their loyalty can be won or lost in the crowded inboxes of today.

customer-first email marketing

As the gatekeeper to customer data, today’s email marketers are tasked with constantly asking and answering difficult questions.

  1. What is the most responsible way to manage the access and storage of my customers’ data?
  2. How will today’s message relate to the overall brand message? Will it relate to the message we promoted last week or last month? Will it relate to the message and content we’re planning for three months from now?
  3. What do my members want to hear from my brand today? How does that message need to differ based on where and how that member has been engaging with us recently?
  4. What is my goal for this email specifically?

It’s a big job. At DEG, we tackle these questions in a few ways:

By taking the time to understand what data is collected and what permissions we have, we’re better able to personalize the message to the subscriber and the brand experience.

We make it a priority to understand the data before we begin making strategic recommendations.

While we’d like to say there is a playbook to customer-first email marketing, even the building blocks of a program (i.e. a welcome or onboarding program) needs to be customized to the brand and the data collected at opt-in. By taking the extra time to understand what data is collected and what permissions we have for using it, we’re better able to personalize the message to the subscriber and the brand experience.

We work together with our clients to understand their brand goals and calendars and how they translate to the email calendar.

Often times there are overarching promotions or themes that the brand is working on, and making sure that each email sent will fit into the overall cohesive brand plan is critical.

After we’ve planned out the campaign calendar, we layer in personalization and segmentation.

If we know we need to feature a friends and family promotion for a two-week time period, we can set ourselves up for success by having plans and contingency plans based on performance. By planning ahead, we can be more nimble and send to our best subscribers when we need to drive extra sales or traffic and suppress those who have purchased during the promotion from receiving any extra sends.

The marketers who presented at EIS are doing strong work to better answer these questions, and I’m proud to stand with them as we continue to earn our spot in inboxes every day.

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