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I tell you one stat that drives me crazy.

70% of marketing emails go unopened.

And it’s our fault.

It’s common to see brands blindly sending emails to their database without consideration of the recipient - and the only objective of the email is to sell products. I get it, you all have targets to meet, new products to launch, a year-on-year comparison that means your CEO is breathing down your neck and threatening to cut your budget. Cast the net wide, catch more sales! Email more people, more often, right? It’s not working though, is it? It’s not a sustainable plan.

We think that we are being clever and using data intelligently if we “personalise” an email, but all we really do is use a person’s name or pull in an image of a product they bought recently – which isn’t clever, it’s expected. We have spent years collecting data, hundreds of thousands of pounds building single customer view databases, we have data falling out of every orifice, and yet I don’t see brands using this in a way that benefits the customer. It’s only for their gain.

We seem to have forgotten that each communication we send is an individual conversation with a consumer. A customer who has trusted us with their email address. And then we send messages that bear no relation to them, without considering their behaviours or purchase history.

Do you know the emails that really bug me? The ones that give me a 25% discount… the day after I have just placed an order.


Exclude me before you send the offer, or let me know when I’m ordering that you have a discount coming tomorrow and I should wait to place my order - or let me have it anyway because you can see I’m a loyal customer...

I regularly buy 3 specific products from a beauty brand. I have only ever bought those 3 products, for years. Literally years! I have never bought anything else. In the first few years, I had emails about all their other products and that’s all good, try and upsell. Why wouldn’t you? I’m a new customer. Exploit me. Get the most you can out of me. However, if I don’t engage and don’t ever buy anything else, GIVE IT UP! Take the hint. I don’t want them! How about instead you looking at my purchase history, understand how often the products I buy need replenishing and send me a reminder email so I can purchase before I actually run out. Send me something relevant.

A famous shoe company, who sell shoes that I cannot afford, has been sending me emails for 8 years. EIGHT. YEARS. I open their emails. They have pictures of pretty shoes (that I can’t afford). And I like looking at pretty things. I never click through. EVER. I still get at least 3 emails a month. It’s lazy. Either try and engage me or stop sending. Or, oh here’s a thought, how about a considered and defined re-engagement programme that is tested and efficient and then… if that still doesn’t work. GIVE IT UP! Put me in a warm prospect pool that has a few touch points a year so I don’t feel like you are hounding me.

Businesses are mass mailing their entire base in the hope of hitting their benchmarked email metrics and converting a few people - and the less people convert, the more emails get sent. It’s lazy. It wastes everyone’s time.

Email communication plans are dead. Clearly defined customer journeys, with set objectives and success metrics are where it’s at. Journeys that are responsive to the individual and achieve your wider business objectives must be the new norm.

It takes investment, at all levels to achieve this, and it doesn’t come easily. Your data architect and infrastructure are going to need to work really hard to make it work. You need ambitious leaders who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and are prepared to ride the choppy waves that will invariably hit as you go through an exploratory test and learn process.

It’s not rocket science though. Know your product. Know your base. And know what you need to do.