Email: The Centre of the Multi-Channel Maze

White Paper

The dream of building a single database of all customer interactions and experiences across every channel and touchpoint is still seen by many as the future of email marketing and the key to customer loyalty and retention.

This ‘single customer’ or ‘omnichannel’ view has been hailed as the silver bullet of data-driven marketing for many years, but the reality is that while many brands and businesses are working hard to build a single, joined-up view of their customers, few are truly achieving it. Read this whitepaper to learn how to stand out in your customer's increasingly busy inbox.

Get the download

Below is an excerpt of "Email: The Centre of the Multi-Channel Maze". To get your free download, and unlimited access to the whole of, simply log in or join free.


The rise of personalisation and dynamic content

According to Aberdeen Research, 96% of organisations believe that email personalisation can improve email marketing performance, and 84% of marketing executives say they plan on developing a process to map rich media content assets to buyer journey stage. Additionally, among best-in-class B2B content marketers, 71% say they tailor content to the profile of the decision maker. (Source: The Content Marketing Institute)

The key driver behind this change is that consumers are becoming increasingly selective about the content they engage with and much is getting filtered out. Furthermore, consumers are coming to expect a personalised and consistent experience across all touchpoints and channels, and particularly email. Leads who are nurtured with targeted content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities. (Source: DemandGen)

Personalisation is vital for achieving customer loyalty and retention, as it shows the customer that the business knows them and understands their needs and interests. If done well, this can lead to sizeable sales benefits. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to a new prospective customer is from 5% to 20% whereas the chance of selling to an existing customer is from 60% to 70%. A recent study by McKinsey also concluded that email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. So it is worth investing in the data and technology that support the creation of a personalised customer experience.

  • 96% of organisations believe that email personalisation can improve email marketing performance
  • 84% of marketing executives plan on developing a process to map rich media content assets
  • 71% content marketers tailor content to the profile of the decision maker

Case Study

Internet Retailing’s advanced personalisation campaign achieves 51% open rate

Internet Retailing Expo March 2014 wanted to maximise event attendance and workshop sign-ups, and ensure registrants understood the full value of the event.

To achieve this, they created a personalised email campaign which was sent to a list of individuals who had registered to attend the event. Emails were sent with the subject line of ‘Your personalised itinerary for IRX 2014’, which worked on several levels:

  • Provided a strong incentive for the receiver to open by being timely and specific
  • Made the receiver feel valued because they were receiving a personalised service
  • Conveyed the helpful and informative nature of the sender – like having a personal assistant helping you focus on what’s important

The email looked like it had been sent from a real person rather than a company which helped to make it feel more like a one-on-one communication.

The email content was designed to offer the greatest value to each recipient. During the registration process, some carefully selected questions helped to establish registrants’ interests. Going further than the standard ‘Hi Frank’ or ‘Dear Steve’, they used content automation in the email to show a list of exhibitors and workshops in the sectors and areas of interest. They also pulled the badge number needed for attending the event.

The results

The subject line was relevant and caught the attention of the recipients, achieving a successful 51% open rate, 54% higher than previous emails where the email contained all possible areas of interest. The email stayed true to the value promised in the subject line. Using automated, personalized content, Internet Retailing successfully engaged their registrants. The click-to-open rate was 33%.

The ‘Show Highlights’ section at the bottom achieved a considerable number of clicks, showing that recipients were reading right through the email. The Heatmap in MessageFocus showed that booking workshops attracted a 20% click-to-open rate.

Dynamic email content, which renders at the time of opening and not at the time of send, is one of the latest trends in email personalisation. This technology allows marketers to personalise email content based on factors like location, date, the weather in the recipient’s local area, or the time at which they engage with the email. Content can adjust each time the same recipient opens the same email. Such truly dynamic content could be the holy grail of personalised email.

Clothing retailer Monsoon used dynamic email to combat the fact that around two thirds of its customers were abandoning their online shopping baskets. For the campaign, email creative focused on the types of products being abandoned, with different variations being served dynamically to customers. Behavioural segmentation was also incorporated to ensure a second email was sent out 48 hours later if customers hadn’t yet returned to purchase online. Over a three-month period, the campaign achieved a 22% email click-through rate, a conversion from click rate of 38% and a 4.3% uplift in sales.

Currently, few businesses are able to personalise content at an individual level. That’s not because the technology to enable that doesn’t exist, but rather due to the fact that adoption is low. Most will go down to a profile or a segment, which could be a few thousand people who share the same interests or behavioural traits. Rich customer profiling or propensity modelling can be helpful in this scenario as it provides marketers with the ability to anticipate customer behaviour, rather than simply re-telling them what they have already done.

The use of third-party data can often be the quickest and most realistic route to building a robust picture of the customer based on real world behaviours and characteristics. There is always the risk that these datasets might be more prone to error than first party sources. However, when used in conjunction with proprietary customer data, it can be an achievable way of expanding a company’s view of the individual.

The impact of wearable technology on email marketing

Opportunities for email marketers in wearable tech are yet to be fully realised. If industry predictions are correct, wearables are set to be one of the most disruptive technology developments since the smartphone and could reach tipping point at a far greater pace. According to ABI Research, the wearable technologies market will spike to 485 million device shipments by 2018.

Fundamentally, wearables could have a radical impact on the way consumers receive and interact with email. Google has already geared up for this, creating design specifications specifically for small-screen devices. The implications for email marketers are far-reaching as the user experience of email will be drastically altered and brands will need to make sure they are delivering a consistent brand experience across this and every other touchpoint.

The wearable technologies market will spike to 485m device shipments by 2018

Brevity and persuasion are key

From a content perspective, the subject line and preheader text of emails will be of primary importance. It seems likely that those accessing email via wearables will have the ability to skim their inbox and postpone, flag or delete emails. First impressions have never been so important - brands will have the smallest window of opportunity to make sure their email communications aren’t siphoned off into the content abyss. Subject lines have never been so important.

The opportunity for real-time

Wearables are capable of opening up new and exciting opportunities for real-time and automated email marketing. Currently, most companies use just a handful of automated triggers: The 2015 Email Marketing Industry Census conducted by Adestra and eConsultancy found that as many as 65% of respondents were using some form of triggered messaging, up by 32% in the last 2 years. Combine this with wearables’ ability to deliver immediate information to a customer, they will inevitably open up new opportunities for brands to create relevance based on the wearer’s location, proximity to others, or even physical health.

So for example, if a valued customer was within a close radius of a brand’s high street store, they could send a triggered message, letting them know that an item recently-viewed online was now in stock.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Data will keep getting bigger

Marketers are familiar by now with the concept of big data, but may not have even begun to think about the sorts of valuable customer data that they could be collecting directly from source with the help of wearables. Rather than relying on surveys or focus groups, data from new types of sensors in wearables can tell brands not only where or when a customer may have interacted with their brand, but can also give data on how the customer was feeling at the time, or what they were drawn to. For marketers, this means overcoming the data fragmentation that may exist internally and ensuring the efficient management and integration of different data types and sources, with a focus on emotional and behavioural data

Bridging the gap

For email marketers, joining the dots between wearables, the high street and the online world will become increasingly important. For some industries and sectors, bridging the gap between the offline world and digital is already a significant challenge. These two sides of sales can have very different customers, objectives and working practices, and for many marketers there are ‘black holes’ of data which make it impossible to collect valuable, much-needed information about their customers. Potentially, wearables could help to plug those gaps and better enable marketers to reach the right customer with the right message.

Email in the modern multichannel, and what the future holds

Email has held its own for many years and been the one constant, reliable touchpoint for most marketers. It has continued to thrive and deliver ROI amid a myriad of digital advances. But as marketers continue to invest in building a single, joined-up view of their customer and wearables and other digital advances emerge to take centre stage, where will email sit within the multichannel ecosystem?

The desire to be channel agnostic

More than five in every six companies (84%) see email as becoming fully integrated with other marketing channels within the next five years (Source: Email Marketing Industry Census). In order for the full potential of email to be realised, it needs to become truly channel agnostic and email marketers should have the ambition to be proficient across all communication channels.

Social media and email can coexist

While there are some who believe that millennial preferences will see email replaced by social media in the next five years, there is a plethora of evidence to show that email and social media will coexist. While some marketers are increasingly using social media as a method of data enrichment, others are combining the email address as an identifier with social media platforms to reach customers with unique and personalised messages. This is helping marketers to identify consumer activity at a granular level, providing a step towards achieving that highly sought-after omni-channel experience.

Email as the key identifier

Lead Generation Cards on Twitter, for example, demonstrate the dominance of email as the main identifier. This fairly new offering from Twitter allows marketers to capture email addresses directly through the social networking platform, and makes it easy for consumers to express interest in a business without having to fill out a form or leave Twitter. Furthermore, via Lead Generation Cards, businesses can set up their incoming leads to be instantly fed into their CRM system. Outdoor gear and apparel company Rock/Creek used the Lead Generation Card in a Promoted Tweet campaign to capture the email addresses of people who wanted to enter a draw to win a free pair of Chaco sandals. The campaign saw a 4.6% engagement rate and generated over 1,700 new email contacts in less than a week.


With no native wearable email clients existing at present, wearable email design is currently an unknown. Advances in this space mean that marketers will soon be entering an extreme mobile mindset when it comes to the creation of email marketing content. The ultimate aim will be ‘glanceability’; the building of content that is minimalist and registers positively at first glance. Elements such as subject lines will become even more important. Android’s developer documents talk about presenting short bursts of information and control via voice actions, perhaps heralding the return of plain text email!

Privacy is paramount

In 2014, PWC conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers which found that 82% saw wearables as an invasion of privacy waiting to happen and 86% saw it as making them more vulnerable to security breaches. Privacy has always been an issue for email marketers, but as data gets even more personal, customer expectation will evolve. Wearable technology will present the most personal way of gathering data from customers yet. Marketers will need to operate respectfully or face the wrath of law-makers. Get the balance right, delivering dynamic and relevant email content will allow marketers to use that data in a way that consumers won’t regard as intrusive, because it will deliver content and experiences they value.


If your current email marketing strategy is simply to send more emails, now is the time to take stock - marketing leaders should focus on sending better emails to drive growth. Being able to speak to customers in a personalised and meaningful manner is the most certain way of securing their loyalty.

Marketers should be thinking about the role that email plays within the modern multichannel environment, particularly as a tool to connect channels. There’s no reason why email, social media, wearables and more can’t work in harmony. Now more than ever, marketers should be keeping abreast of new developments, looking for ways to up their game. Getting closer to real-time is a realistic, short-term ambition for businesses, which would enable them to take advantage of the immediacy of their customer relationships.

Moving forward, it will be crucial that marketers observe and react to the new dynamics when using email. Email is the one constant among the ever multiplying number of social media channels begging for their distracted attention.

Want more like this?

Want more like this?

Insight delivered to your inbox

Keep up to date with our free email. Hand picked whitepapers and posts from our blog, as well as exclusive videos and webinar invitations keep our Users one step ahead.

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

side image splash

By clicking 'SIGN UP', you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy