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Email is still at the center of marketers' digital programs. No surprise there; it offers several benefits: It's an owned communications channel, it's permissioned—meaning consumers have opted in and indicated interest—and it's a traditional marketing channel that most marketers are thoroughly experienced with.
"We treat our email marketing program as an opportunity to strengthen and deepen engagement with our most loyal users," said Lawrence Scotland, senior vice president of digital and brand marketing at frozen meal brand Luvo. "And we use it as an outlet to solidify and drive credibility in the nutrition and health and wellness space, which is the area that we play in."
In eMarketer's latest report on the topic, Email Marketing 2019: Still a Leading Touchpoint for Marketers and Consumers Alike, we look at the trends shaping email marketing practices next year.
Here's what should stay top of mind for retailers.
Personalization is a leading trend across marketing communications, as brands continue to turn to data to optimize all their marketing activities for maximum relevance and effectiveness. But the reality is that most emails are still not very personalized.
Cross-channel personalization software firm SmarterHQ has been tracking retail emails for a study, after signing up for dozens of top retailers' email lists in July 2019. As part of the project, SmarterHQ also heavily browses the retailers' websites and adds a couple of items to a cart to more fully test the retailers' email programs.
Most of the emails SmarterHQ received weren't personalized, but there was significant variation among retailers. For example, out of 25 emails Walmart sent the researchers in August, just one was personalized based on behavior. But Target sent 23 behaviorally personalized emails out of a total of 41 for the month.
Asked why retailers were still so behind on what the industry considers a best practice, Michael Osborne, CEO and president of SmarterHQ, pointed to inertia. "Either they find it difficult, or they're addicted to the way that they've always done it," he said. "Every extra dollar of revenue counts, even if it's detrimental in the long term for their customer base and loyalty."