Chester Bullock and Mark Pollard are digital marketing technology experts at Trendline Interactive. Following many years on the brand side, they are now in charge of making sure clients get the most out of their marketing platforms.
Introducing the One-to-One Customer Journey
IN THIS CHAPTER
Understanding email marketing
Learning about customer journeys
Understanding how Salesforce Marketing Cloud fits into customer journeys
Email marketing has grown into a direct marketing powerhouse. Because you have access to so much data about the people you're sending emails to, you can create automation that tailors your messages to each customer's unique needs and circumstances. Email marketing not only delivers marketers unparalleled value but also ensures that customers actually want to read the messages they receive from you.
No other marketing channel is so customizable at such an affordable price. You can personalize the content of your email even more than the content in a direct mailer, plus your email doesn't require printing or postage, isn't subject to the mail delivery schedule, and doesn't use paper. At the same time, your email marketing campaigns can be as broad reaching as a television commercial because, after you've set up your marketing campaigns, each additional email might add only a fraction of a second to send.
Add to this the capability to get feedback on your campaigns through testing and then to use that feedback to optimize the campaigns going forward, and there is no question why email marketing continues to drive so much business.
Over time, Salesforce Marketing Cloud has added communication channels to supplement your email marketing campaigns. Now you can use Marketing Cloud as the central place to manage all the components of your online marketing campaigns, including web pages, text messages, and your Facebook page.
The Dawn of the Customer Journey
We're at a tipping point in digital marketing, where data, tools, and predictive analytics are coming together to drive a concept known as the customer journey. Before we can dive into the depths of modern-day customer journeys, however, we need to take you on a journey of our own. We're going to go back to where it began - email marketing - to understand email marketing as a channel and how we got from there to where we are today.
Early email marketing
The technology to send email messages emerged in the early 1970s, but only government and educational institutions really had access to it. In the mid-1980s, commercial networks began opening up the potential of this messaging channel to private citizens - mostly early adopters who loved technology for its own sake. Email as a common messaging medium, with practical applications for average citizens, didn't really take off until the 1990s.
At that time, major commercial networks, such as CompuServe and AOL, started connecting to the Internet and allowing messages to pass among competing systems. These messages were mostly text based and basic, as shown in Figure 1-1.
FIGURE 1-1: Early email was basic.
It's impossible to say who sent the first email that contained a marketing message or when they sent it, but it was probably pretty early. Even when the technology is unsophisticated and certainly not built with marketing purposes in mind, innovative marketers always find a way to use new tools to get an edge! Early email marketers borrowed strategies from direct mail to send electronic versions of what they would have sent to your mailbox.
Today, companies develop tools specifically for designing, automating, and delivering your email marketing, and marketing strategies and best practices exist that are specific to this channel. The tools that deliver these messages are available from companies called email service providers (ESPs). Salesforce Marketing Cloud is one such tool.
Email marketing is a highly effective method of delivering one-to-one marketing messages (messages to just one customer at a time, such as a thank-you message after an order) or one-to-many marketing messages (messages to an entire list of customers, such as a monthly newsletter). However, some marketers have misused email and given it a bad reputation. The term spam refers to unwanted marketing messages. Spam is the digital equivalent of all the junk mail you receive in your physical mailbox, but it causes even more irritation: In the early days of email, consumers oftentimes had to pay by the minute for their online time, and having to waste that time to read and delete unwanted messages made them angry.
The backlash grew further when mobile devices became popular for reading email. Again, consumers were paying a price for precious online time and sifting through unwanted messages felt expensive.
The great irony is that email marketing offers the power to provide highly customized messages that customers want to receive. The fact that email marketing developed a bad reputation for creating too many unwanted messages says more about the techniques used by marketers than the technology itself.
To combat this reputation - and to get more value out of email marketing efforts - online marketers began to develop best practices to ensure that subscribers could control their own email marketing experience and not develop so much resentment. For example, it's a best practice to offer a link in every email that a customer can click to unsubscribe from your email list.
As evidence of how important this particular best practice is, unsubscribe links are now required in marketing messages by law. Among other things, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003 requires that subscribers can opt-out of your email lists. Brands that ignore the wishes of their subscribers may find themselves in court.
From batch and blast to the highly personalized message
Email marketing's early bad reputation wasn't built by scammers - or at least not only by scammers. Since email marketing was a new medium, guidelines on how or what to send didn't exist, nor were there any experts or thought leaders to consult with. It was the Wild West, and online marketers just tried whatever idea occurred to them to see if it worked.
Because there were no email-marketing experts, companies commonly called on their direct-mail marketing experts to design their email-marketing campaigns. The result was a campaign methodology called batch and blast.
The concept is simple - you get as many email addresses as you can, however you can, and send them all the same message at the same time. The message you send is generic so that it will apply to everyone. If you put too much specialized information in a message, you risk damaging your relationship with message recipients who don't care about your specialized information.
Fortunately, for us modern-day online marketers, data has become more plentiful and tools can take advantage of that data to create personalized messages. For example, an early improvement was to add a subscriber's first name to a message. Figure 1-2 shows how this kind of personalization appears in an email in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
FIGURE 1-2: An example of email personalization.
Personalization is a relatively simple feature to implement in emails, but it's not remotely the limit of what you can do. By using the data you have about your subscribers, you can build different, personalized email content for each subscriber. This can include specialized content for the subscriber's particular interests, local weather conditions based on ZIP code, or a list of items the subscriber has ordered recently past, as shown in Figure 1-3.
FIGURE 1-3: A highly customized email example, based on an online order.
Delivering this kind of highly customized email is no longer optional for most businesses: Customers have come to expect the brands that they engage with to understand and act on their preferences. Keep this in mind for your messaging efforts, so you can delight your customers.
From two channels to too many to count
For the longest time, online marketers had only two digital channels from which to choose: websites and email. The explosion of mobile devices and social media apps, however, has resulted in more channels than you can count - and the number keeps growing. Today's online marketer has many choices about how to communicate with subscribers.
With each channel comes a different approach to marketing. After you decide that you're interested in promoting your brand through a particular channel, you may need to rethink your goal. For example, a normal goal is to lift sales, but on Instagram (a social networking app for sharing videos and photos), a better goal may be to reinforce your branding or to introduce a new product. Building awareness about your offering can be just as important as grabbing an immediate lift to sales.
Even with so many channels and all they can offer, email is still the core of your online marketing efforts. Email is the number-one channel for reaching your customers, educating them about your products, and developing a relationship with them.
From brand-centric to customer-centric
A major shift has been occurring in the marketing landscape over the last ten years. Although it has happened faster for some companies than others, everyone is waking up to this reality: Customers are now in control of your message.
You put a...