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CMO Briefing

n the age of social media, where virtually everyone with access to the Internet has a social media account, it is easy to think that it is the best way to reach consumers. However, don’t forget about email. According to the Radicati Group, a market research firm that provides quantitative and qualitative research on email and social networking, amongst others, the total number of worldwide email accounts was 3.9b in 2013, and projected to reach 4.9b by 2017. That’s a whole lot of email accounts, to put it mildly. No wonder email marketing is still deemed strong. Three marketers give their thoughts on email marketing, trends and threats surrounding it, and its future.

personalised messages,” adds Lim. When it comes to trends, one of the biggest is email remarketing. “Shopping cart abandonment is the bane of the online retail industry, but a sequence of carefully timed emails will recover between 10-30% of them,” shares Nicholas Kontopoulos, global vice president of fast growth markets marketing, SAP Hybris. When a consumer ditches his shopping cart, for example, brands can use cookies to track that and remarket to the consumer through email. “By remarketing with a more relevant and timely offer, such emails are more likely to get opened. They’re going to get clicked. And they’re likely going to lead to better sales conversion rates,” says Kontopoulos. “Email is the currency of the web, and I think it’s safe to say the majority of us who are online probably have an active email address. What’s also unique about email is that it is the only constant in a multichannel society and has a long history of stability,” he adds. Kontopoulos notes further that whether you use email marketing before, during, or after customers purchase something from you, the goal is not to bombard them with more emails. “The goal is to send them the right message at the right time; the most valuable content right when they need and want it.” Consumers want to feel valued and are looking for unique and individualised experiences every time they interact with their favourite brands. “It means understanding customers all the way from the first touch as an anonymous visitor through to a well-known customer identified with multiple emails, devices, social, and cookie identifiers,” says Kontopoulos. “Brands must also bring their business processes and customer information (including data from external sources) together on one core platform,” he says. Kontopoulos adds that the full picture and the ability to act on it in real-time are paramount to understanding the customer and taking the experience to the next level.

Still relevant Email marketing should never be disregarded in the development of marketing strategies. “Email marketing still forms an important part of marketing tactics, as it serves to inform, and maintain touch with customers, both in B2B and B2C scenarios,” says Kenneth Lim, CMO, Alpha7 Consultancy. The only difference in today’s context, he shares, is that email marketing is increasingly being operated by marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, which can be customised based on the recipient’s preference and topics of interests. Therefore, junk mail and spam scenarios have been greatly reduced, improving customer satisfaction. “Email marketing will remain as one of the most effective communications channels with customers and prospects for a long time to come,” says Lim. He notes that there might be a reduction in usage. “Messages could be communicated via social media channels, leaving email marketing to convey

Timing is key The rise of online messaging and social media may seem to undermine the value of email marketing, but the real challenge lies in delivering the right piece of content to the right target audience at the right time, regardless of the delivery channel, says Janie Lim, APAC Marketing Director for Digital Media, Adobe. “Email marketing is but one of the myriad of channels that marketers need to pay attention to. In the journey ahead, customer experience will be the key differentiator for companies looking to excel. Beyond channels, marketers will need to look into customer experience as a key priority, connecting experiences across every touchpoint to deliver consistent, engaging, and meaningful content,” says Lim. She adds that this requires businesses to have a good understanding of their customers – who they are, and what drives them to the brand. “With the right data analysis and customer insights, email marketing will continue to flourish in the years to come,” says Lim.

Email marketing is not about to go away In our hyperconnected world, email marketing’s impact should not be discounted.

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42 SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW JANUARY 2017

The real challenge lies in delivering the right piece of content to the right target audience at the right time.


Singapore Business Review (December 2016 - January 2017)