By Toby Britton, co-founder of Miappi.
What is email marketing?
CRM or customer relationship management relies heavily on email marketing. After all, every transaction we make online involves us providing our email address, so for nearly all businesses this is the most direct way to speak to customers.
It goes without saying, when we, as consumers, hand over our email addresses we expect them to be used responsibly. So, what does this mean from a consumer perspective? How do we expect our email addresses to be used? According to a study by Salesforce, 62% of consumers expect companies to send them personalised offers or discounts based on the items they’ve already purchased. Businesses are trying to match these expectations by investing in marketing automation or email service providers which enable email personalisation. Email marketing technology is used by 82% of B2B and B2C companies. Does this research need to be referenced?
But with 111.1 billion consumer emails sent and received each day, and studies such as a Return Path survey have shown that we as consumers could be finding an average of 13 marketing emails in our inbox a day, brands need something special and unique to grab the consumers attention.
In 2020, brands are turning to consumer generated content (CGC) to make their email marketing stand out.
What is consumer-generated content?
CGC, or earned media as some call it, is gold dust for marketers. The images, videos and comments in question are typically sourced from conversations on social media. Why are these assets so valuable? The bottom line is that consumers trust their peers more than they trust brand advertising. CGC is a digital word of mouth, which typically costs nothing for brands to create, because it is self-generating.
How can brands find their own consumer-generated content?
The good news is, today marketers can leverage intuitive platforms that facilitate the discovery, licensing, and distribution of valuable CGC
Discovery involves aggregating content from a number of different sources including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more. The best platforms also facilitate the direct upload of first party content to the brand.
Then a number of AI rules and moderation tools can be used to filter out the noise and leave the marketer with the best pieces of content that they wish to use. In a post GDPR world, the next part is particularly important. Brands need to get the consent of content creators, in order to be able to leverage this content elsewhere. Luckily for marketers these CGC platforms also allow brands to speak directly with content creators and provide relevant terms and conditions.
By getting consent, brands are able to open a dialogue with passionate fans on social and reward them by giving them acknowledgement, at the same time the marketer is creating a bank of authentic consumer generated marketing assets.
CGC is unique to the brand and it is influential. This is why it is worth integrating into email marketing campaigns.
The role of consumer generated content in email marketing
Marketing emails provide brands an opportunity not only to serve a personalised product recommendation or discount, but to also add in the positive sentiment from those who have already bought the products that are being promoted.
This method could be particularly powerful when retargeting website visitors on email. For instance, imagine you as a consumer have looked at a product on the brand website. You then receive an email a day later, that includes high quality imagery that features happy customers showing the product in situ. The effect is, you the consumer get an extra bit of confidence in the product after seeing these visual reviews and even develop a bit of FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. This can usher the consumer into a sense of urgency to buy the product.
Research supports the effectiveness of leveraging CGC in email marketing. A study by email service provider Dotmailer for example, found that emails that include CGC see a 43% increase in click-through rates and a 2-3X conversion rate.
Marketing emails also provide an opportunity for brands to encourage the creation of CGC by using a post purchase email (for example) to ask the consumer to share what they look like in their new shoes. This content can be collected directly using a direct upload form, or it can be collected when the individual posts to the image to social media using a hashtag that is being tracked on your consumer generated content platform.
So, what’s next for brands looking to add CGC to their email marketing?
First you need to find a software platform that fits you and your team’s needs. At the least the platform should allow you to collect, license and distribute the content from one platform for a seamless workflow. Next you will need to understand where and how all your relevant CGC is being posted and organise this content in the dashboard accordingly.
Finally, make your customers the stars, empower them by leveraging their content in your own communications. But brands need not stop at email marketing of course, repost these authentic moments on social channels, integrate them into paid campaigns, the key is to include CGC in as many touch points as possible, but in a relevant way. Luckily for email marketing, this is particularly easy as you will already have the data to guide you on what content to show to who based on historic behaviour.