2013The halls at’s 2013 Annual Summit in Chicago were buzzing with big retailers talking about “Big Data.” While the topic has been on everyone’s lips for years, this time it felt like the discussion had evolved. No longer was the talk around how to get it, but rather on using it to inform every channel that a customer uses to shop your brand. The common theme in all the sessions was how to blur the lines between shopping and experience to drive brand engagement.

As an email marketing strategist, I spend a lot of time talking with clients about defining the value of an email subscriber. We look at fancy metrics that help point us to that answer – Conversion Rate, CTOR, Revenue per Email Sent, AOV, etc. And yes, it’s important to know the overall value of an email subscriber and an email program; if it is driving a higher portion of revenue than another channel then it makes sense to spend more money in the email channel. However, what those numbers don’t tell us is the indirect value of an email campaign.

Email is just one component of an omnichannel strategy. As our customers become more agile, retailers have to get that much further ahead of them. Gone are the days of looking at email as its own channel and simply layering email campaigns onto a master calendar depending on what the overall brand theme for the month is, or what the direct mail pieces dropping that week look like. The world has become omnichannel. We have to determine what the brand message is and then decide how best to convey that message across every channel on which a customer and the brand could possibly interact: In-store, print, email, social media, traditional web, SMS, etc. All of these channels need to work together to provide the same experience for a customer. And then, we need to take it one step further and develop a personalized journey for each customer within the brand message. That’s a lot to do.

But it is worth it. Because ultimately, at the end of the day, as marketers, our job is to help the customer shop the way they want, when they want, and where they want. If a brand can satisfy those basic needs, the shopper will reward the brand with their loyalty. Loyalty equates to both dollars spent and brand advocacy – an immeasurable asset in today’s saturated market. And, as Matt Marcotte the SVP, Global Retail for Tory Burch said during his day one keynote, “We don’t care which channel gets credit … when the customer wins, the brand wins.”

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