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Barriers to Email Engagement

Posted on 12.06.2010

According to a survey released today by email marketing firm Listrak, retailers are missing critical opportunities to engage customers and drive sales. 

The study revealed that retailers cite "communication overload" and "impersonal outreach" as the biggest barriers to customer engagement via email. The 80+ respondents nearly unanimously agreed (97%) that audience engagement is a critical priority, but revealed that they are underutilizing proven tactics and key touch points to engage consumers, including campaigns to proactively prompt repurchase of replenishable products and shopping cart abandonment strategies that keep existing customers buying. 

Retailers on average reported using fewer than half of available key touch points (2.3 of 6), which include welcome messaging, confirmations, transactional, shopping cart abandonment, seasonal and post purchase campaigns - all of which can provide additional opportunities to sell, cross-sell and up-sell products to customers already engaged with a brand. "Retailers are overlooking crucial opportunities to further engage customers when they are most receptive to it,” said Ross Kramer, Listrak CEO. “Customers who leave items in a shopping cart before completing the purchase are prime for remarketing campaigns.” 

The survey also revealed that the techniques most companies are using to measure engagement are outdated and lacking insight. That is, 82% of those polled measure campaign effectiveness only in terms of opens, clicks and email conversions. There is another way. Listrak suggested that retailers need to use business-driven (rather than behavior-focused) metrics to truly understand customer engagement levels and determine the actual sales impact of campaigns.  This might include measuring the number of products purchased, revenue from those orders, and repeat purchases from those customers as these metrics are more closely tied to true ROI and customer lifetime value. 

The survey showed that there has been an increase in the number of retailers who measure engagement based on customer value however.  Specifically, 26.25% look at conversion rates, 16% use recency and frequency of purchases, and 8.25% measure the overall value of their customers to determine how engaged they are with their brand.

“By reaching customers at key touch points with relevant messages and using more advanced measurement criteria, retailers can cut through the clutter and overcome barriers to truly engage customers.  That is how retailers will build brand loyalty and increase customer lifetime value,” adds Heather Bonura, Listrak Director, Brand Strategy.

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