Mintel Comperemedia recently took part in the Marketing Sherpa Email Summit 2015. Find out what leading experts had to say about the positive steps practitioners are taking in email marketing, and how it’s consumers who are leading the charge for change in the industry.

Invert the funnel

MECLABS found*er and CEO Flint McLaughlin taught multiple sessions on the practice of email optimization, the core of which advanced his belief that people do not build relationships with organizations, but with people. Therefore, it is imperative for marketers to abandon the assumed language of a company and return to the fundamental principles of effective human communication. As noted in a previous post, this is the age of the “enlightened,” sophisticated consumer that knows when they are being marketed to. McLaughlin believes the solution to this is to take the standard approach of the “marketing funnel” and invert it. Rather than attempt to pull consumers into making a purchase, with aggressive persuasion, brands should engage customers in a relationship that pushes them towards a series “micro-yesses” that ultimately lead to purchase.

Think like a freak

Keynote speaker Stephen Drubner, co-author of Freakanomics and Think Like a Freak insisted radical solutions, though not always popular, are often the answer to basic problems. This can be achieved by reframing the problem, as asking different questions results in different answers. Drubner offered an ideal situation as to when to employ this type of thinking: “When you see everyone all doing the same thing, at least for a minute think of doing something different.”

The customer-first approach

Mary Abrahamson, Email Marketing Specialist at Ferguson Enterprises, detailed how she adopted a customer-first approach which led to over $10 million in online revenue for the plumbing supplier. The three-step process involved learning who their customers were and how they communicate, delivering rich, tailored content and offers, and providing real-time data to partners and sales representatives to increase engagement. By “speaking the customers’ language,” Abrahamson had a better understanding of their needs and tailored the email experience to meet them.

Turn Customers Into Advocates

In his keynote session, Jonah Berger, Wharton School of Business professor and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On addressed the concept of viral marketing. While this is something many brands strive to achieve, ultimately things that “go viral” only amount to success in the short-term. Berger pointed out that while word-of-mouth generates twice the sales that advertising does, only 7% of word-of-mouth takes place online. Much like Flint McLaughlin, Berger insisted it is the person-to-person relationship based on trust that drives this. In order to drive sales marketers must ask, “How am I getting my customer to share my message?”

Strive for clarity above all else

When crafting a brand message, brands must strive for clarity above all else. As McLaughlin said, “Clarity trumps persuasion any day of the week.” If consumers immediately understand what the offer is and why they should accept it, companies will have eliminated many of the key sources of friction between acquisition and conversion.

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