2021 Communication Hacks

Think back to late March. Every brand and retailer, from global department stores to small stores and eCommerce sites, sent an email to their customers. The message was the same: “We’re all in this together.”

Some brands focused on community, store safety, and donations, while others just hopped on the bandwagon to send a similar message. What was the impact of the messages? Did customers appreciate them or find them annoying?

According to the Selligent Global Connected Consumer Index, here’s how people perceived the COVID-19 messages:

  • 25% waste of time, unnecessary
  • 28% indifferent
  • 48% appreciated the empathy

Now that we’re nearing the end of 2020, what kind of communications do consumers want? How often should brands send emails and how often?

The What

The first question to answer is what types of messaging should you focus on? Selligent Global shared the types of communications that consumers find valuable:

  • 10% corporate / employee policies
  • 14% update on recent purchases
  • 23% safety and store experience updates
  • 54% sales and deals

The most popular messaging is around sales and promotions, which isn’t too surprising. Especially during the pandemic, shoppers are more price sensitive, especially for non-essential purchases.

However, a smaller percentage of customers are still interested in learning about store safety, purchase updates, and corporate policies. It’s important to personalize your messaging strategy to only send consumers messages they find valuable.

At the surface, you can look at stats like open and click rates on various email types. On a deeper level, you can use individual-level metrics like customer lifetime value to measure how different messaging types impact purchasing behavior and future LTV. Very loyal customers might be interested in every message from your brand. Lower value customers that only respond to deep discounts might only want messages about the next sale.

You can use customer lifetime value to tailor your messaging strategy based upon each customer’s predicted increase or decrease in LTV after receiving any one type of email message.

The Why

With more time at home, many customers focused on updating their homes with DIY projects and improving their digital lives by cleaning out their inboxes. In the last six months, 39% of people unsubscribed from three or more emails. The top reasons why include:

  • 10% more loyal to other brands
  • 13% never signed up
  • 20% too long since last interaction with brand
  • 55% too many emails

Too many emails wins by a large margin as the top unsubscribe reason. We’ll discuss email frequency in more detail in the next section.

For customers that unsubscribe due to the other three reasons (loyal to other brands, never signed up, or too long since last interaction), it’s likely they were going to churn soon anyway.

With customer lifetime value metrics, you can predict which customers are likely to churn soon in an effort to prevent unsubscribes. However, if these customers are very low-value, it makes sense to let them go. For mid-value customers, it might make sense to offer a promotion to inspire another purchase and prevent the unsubscribe.

Selligent also shares what consumers find most annoying about emails from brands:

  • 23% send too many emails about my recent activity
  • 24% don’t respond fast enough
  • 26% send unnecessary messages that have nothing to do with my recent activity
  • 27% don’t respond at all

This data shows the importance of personalization in email. Customers certainly don’t want too many emails about their recent browsing activity, but they at least want you to be aware of it. If someone browsed your site for bath towels, don’t send them an email about cooking utensils next. By understanding CLV at the customer-level, you can personalize messages and understand their impact on CLV.

The other reasons regarding slow or non-existent responses from brands indicate a shift in expectations. If you’re sending an email to a customer, in theory they should be able to email you back. It’s best practice to ditch your “no-reply” email address. However, it can be difficult, if not nearly impossible, to reply to every single customer email in a timely manner. This is where customer lifetime value comes in. You can rank emails by CLV to make sure you’re addressing the concerns and questions of your highest-value customers first.

The When

Finally, Selligent provided data on how often consumers want to receive emails from brands. The frequency varied:

  • 3% yearly
  • 7% daily
  • 8% never
  • 16% 2-3 times a week
  • 17% twice a month or monthly
  • 33% weekly

As mentioned above, metrics like email opens and clicks can help you determine whether to increase or decrease your email frequency. But individual-level customer lifetime value can help you personalize your email frequency for each customer.

When trying to determine the when, what, why, and how of email, customer lifetime value can help you navigate the differing perspectives and opinions of your consumers. You can focus on strategies that cater to your high-value customers and increase average CLV overall.