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The evolution of email: 3 tips for advancing your email marketing programme

The role of email has certainly changed through the years, and data has been instrumental in driving the evolution of email. We’ve shifted from the ‘insert first name’ functionality, to enhanced personalisation capabilities, to being able to talk to our customers as individuals.

As you continue to evolve your email marketing programme, consider these three tips.

1. Align and activate your data:

It all starts with data. Customer data is the fuel that powers any marketing engine, and email is no different.

The data you need is everywhere, but it’s messy—really messy—and not always easily captured. To get beyond basic customer attributes, you need to collect and harness the right data and use it to create more personalised interactions.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you build your data capture strategy:

  • Ensure it’s realistic and fits in with your overall marketing goals
  • Integrate your online and offline data and incorporate the enabling technologies
  • Use preference centers to collect pertinent data at enrollment and keep it going over time
  • Check your activation plan. Without the right integrations, you may as well not even have the data

2. Think outside the email channel:

As an email marketer, it’s difficult to think of how we talk to the customer outside of the email channel. Oftentimes we’re focused on episodic communications. But if we take a step back and think about our view of data outside the email world, we can understand how consumers are engaging with brands holistically.

Let’s further explore with a real-life example.

Recently we partnered with our client Coach to help them drive more personalisation in conversations. We started with optimising the inbox copy (subject lines and pre-header text) and predicted we’d see a lift in open rates.

While a slight lift was noted, where Coach achieved their true success was the activity increase on their website. Instead of opening the email, customers went directly to the website or in-store.

As a result, the lifts in website and in-store traffic increased along with the overall order value. And, Coach was able to make a connection between the email subscriber to their in-store experience, creating higher consumer engagement.

Today, marketers need to understand how their business looks at the consumer. It’s about taking that viewpoint and determining how we can optimise the experience for them from a brand totality situation.

3. Continue to enhance your measurement strategy:

In our recent webinar with eMarketer, we asked attendees what metrics they are using beyond opens and clicks to measure. Here’s what marketers shared with us:

As Shar VanBoskirk, VP, Principal Analyst of Forrester shared in our webinar:

"Most of the time, people are measuring insignificantly. Marketers tend to pick the easiest things to measure, and we tend to gravitate towards volume. Think beyond measuring actions and pick three things to measure around customer engagement. While tracking behaviors (a site visit, click or open) makes a good foundation, it doesn’t track the response to a customer. Aim to track two other things. Maybe involvement and the level of interest and intent your customer has with a marketing message. How did they interact with the ad that was made available? Was there an emotional element? Signify a sentiment when viewing your marketing message and make sure you’re not measuring in a vacuum.”

It’s important to have the right technology in place to achieve success with measurement. For example, Epsilon’s Agility Harmony helps brands easily identify high-performing campaigns and segments based on benchmarks the user defines. As a result, these brands have more control over messages when customers are least likely to respond or convert, reducing waste and deliverability risks.

Remember, effective measurement requires a strategic process (and data is essential) that provides insights into persona reporting and digital activity and customer value scoring. Understanding your customer’s engagement levels (through tools like our VAP - Value, Attrition, Potential) increases marketing effectiveness, identifies opportunities in your customer base to inspire growth, deepens relationships with existing customers and helps to drive activation, upsell and retention.

So how can you get started right now?


  1. Align measurements of success to email metrics
  2. Define gaps in the migrating from email engagement to customer engagement
  3. Partner across the organisation to identify value in measuring customer engagement

And think about how you can achieve your 1:You communication goals. 1:You is about recognising the customer, always. As 1:You relates to email marketing, it’s about being able to communicate with an individual with real-time triggers and transactional messages to the individual. This is even more effective because email is one of the few channels we have to embrace dialogue with the consumer and marketer.

Our goal is to get to the place where we’re having a dialogue with consumers with a message they’ll understand. Every interaction is an indicator of what we should say next. It’s not just about the moment in time—it’s about having a conversation over time.

To learn more about the evolution of email and how to advance your program, watch our on-demand webinar.