Adestra: Sending out the right messages

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Jennifer Watkiss, head of marketing communications at Adestra, explains how brands can better use technology to drive email marketing success.

Jennifer Watkiss

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We buy marketing technology for two reasons: to acquire data and to use that data to get customers.

The first point is not a problem. We produce more data than is realistically useful or relevant. If our customers realised just how much we know about them, they would probably be scared. But collecting all this data is pointless if we can’t actually act on it.

Here is where most marketers’ problems lie. The technology you buy should offer the ability to create actions based on the data you have on your customers. It should also communicate to them on the right channel at the right time.

One of the most powerful tools for reaching customers in a relevant way is email. Surprised? Email is not dead and, according to the 2014 Email Marketing Industry Census, it is stronger than ever, rated number one for marketing ROI.

In retail, the biggest opportunity for growth is unlocking the key for turning one-off sales into a continuous source of revenue. Everyone sends welcome and confirmation emails, but what else can be done to turn a one-time purchaser into a lifelong customer?

Building a database of interested customers

Start at the checkout, whether digital or bricks-and-mortar. In the digital world, having a wish list or shopping list feature will enable you to ask for the customer’s email address before they make a purchase.

If you collect an email address at the shop till, the most important thing to get right is the time between collecting the data and sending a welcome email. If this does not happen quickly, the customer will have forgotten about their interaction with the shop, and the first time they receive an email, they will mark it as spam.

Either way, connecting point of sale or ecommerce systems to an email service provider is crucial. Do not invest in a system that will take weeks to sync. Quiz the marketing technology vendors on how well-poised they are to help you meet your unique business goals.

You have the email address, now what?

Everyone sends welcome and confirmation emails, but more can be done to turn a one-time purchaser into a lifelong customer

This is where many marketers get it wrong. Do not spam, do not spray and pray and do not bore. You might think this is a lot to keep in mind, but it has one simple solution: be relevant. Analyse your customers’ interaction with your content and send them more of what they like. 

This is where all that data and technology come in. A majority of marketers admit that, while they understand the great potential of marketing automation, realising its full benefits is easier said than done. According to the 2014 Email Marketing Industry Census, organisational buy-in is the least of all barriers. Nearly half (45 per cent) of the survey respondents considered ‘finding time to make it happen’ the biggest one. So when you invest in automation technology, make sure the vendor you choose is ready to offer support and guidance not just in the initial set-up and implementation stages, but also later on for development and deployment.

When evaluating the professional services of a technology vendor, look for:

  • A support team that has short response times for unexpected requests.
  • An integration team that can set up, implement and integrate in weeks, not months.
  • An account management team that is available, prompt to respond, knowledgeable, patient and friendly.
  • An expert creative team offering up-to-date design and coding for your creative needs.

Increase sales with the right email marketing automation

According to the 2014 Email Marketing Industry Census, the top three automation triggers are in response to website subscriptions, sign-up follow-ups and lapsed customers. While these are important, the triggers that really increase sales
are less common.

Lifecycle stages

If you do not already use birthday emails, they are an easy place to start. Congratulate customers on another trip around the sun, and remind them of your brand, maybe with a discount or a special gift. If it is your birthday as a brand, why not share the celebrations with a special promotion and reward your customers for allowing you into their inbox?

Already doing that? Good. Now, take that to the next step with customer lifecycle data. Calendar Club UK leveraged this by targeting customers who had purchased something in September, around back-to-school time. In December, they sent their planner- and calendar-loving subscribers an email suggesting calendars for the New Year, and achieved more than 1,000 sales.

Purchase cycle stages

“Congratulations for buying these trousers, we’re sure they’ll look great on you.” This is the stage where most marketing emails end. Why, in traditional shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store, do we have sales advisers upselling, but this still does not happen in the digital world? Give the customer some time to enjoy their new purchase and then suggest something else to accompany that purchase.

This works wonders for Evans Cycles. Fourteen days after someone purchases a bike from them, the customer gets an email with the subject: ‘Have you got everything you need?’. The email suggests items such as tools for the bike, bags, clothing and shoes. This campaign has an average open-rate of 38 per cent and has brought an additional average spend of £40 per bicycle purchase.

Basket abandonment

Whether in a physical or digital store, we get side-tracked. If my dog needs a walk, I will leave the website and am likely to forget about the shirt I wanted to buy. Do you use technology to remind customers about their abandoned baskets?

The Diamond Store has used Conversion Capture to reclaim those abandoned baskets. By automatically triggering reminder emails to shoppers who place an item in their baskets but have not completed their purchase, they achieved an average recapture value of almost £500. 

In conclusion

Modern marketing is run on data and depends on using the right technology to leverage it. Are you using yours effectively to communicate to customers and drive sales? 

For more examples of retailers using email to drive revenue, visit

Jennifer Watkiss,
Head of marketing communications,

Holywell House,
Osney Mead,

T: 01865 242425,



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