Blogs Getting with the Program(matic): The Future of Automated Email Campaigns

Written by Paula Chiocchi on 2016-03-09

 

The latest data from the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Email Tracker Report shows that email remains the “bedrock on which the majority of marketing campaigns operate.”

And while email has cemented its role as an essential marketing tool, organizations often struggle with automating the email process to achieve optimum results. One reason for the struggle is data – and data fuels automation. From the need to marry email data and campaigns with data from other company departments (e.g. sales, IT), to then use that information as the basis for personalized, targeted content, the challenges for email marketers are complex.

The concept of “programmatic” email – leveraging data collected by user behavior to drive email content and initiatives -- is rapidly evolving to not only address these issues, but to automate the email process itself.

For example, programmatic technology can be employed to create personalized, relevant email content based on the pages a prospect visits, and the content he or she engages with (e.g. videos viewed, whitepapers downloaded) on a company website. Programmatic technologies vendor Criteo claims that such personalized emails increase open rates as much as fourfold, and click-through rates fivefold.

Another example would be if a shopper selects some items to purchase online, but for whatever reason abandons the purchase process. Programmatic systems can create and send an automated email reminding the prospect of the items after a couple days, and perhaps include an incentive (e.g. a coupon) to complete the purchase.

While such automation may sound futuristic or too advanced for many email marketers, the hype surrounding programmatic marketing continues to grow. The adoption of programmatic technologies has started, perhaps not surprisingly, in the online advertising world, where ads are often delivered based on previous browsing history.

Indeed, according to AdExchanger Research’s “The State of Programmatic Selling, 2015,” ad publishers continue to adopt programmatic technologies, with nearly one-in-four (24.8%) saying that programmatic ads account for at least 40% of their total ad revenue today.

Despite the burgeoning use in the online advertising realm, programmatic technology applied to email is still in its early stages of use and acceptance. The DMA survey confirms that the adoption of programmatic email automation remains low despite the promise of improved targeting, superior personalization, reduced waste and improved overall ROI.

The DMA report also suggests that many marketers lack the “competence and data” to run such campaigns, and have difficulty calculating ROI on what can be a high initial investment. “Marketers are struggling with email automation. Automation is often described as a panacea for email, but marketers still have to make the systems work,” says the report.

We at Outward Media have long advised our clients to leverage email to support and nurture the sales process, and foster deeper relationships with customers and prospects. Using today’s emerging email automation tools, combined with powerful email data, may allow organizations to take these concepts to a whole new level.  

We’re excited about the potential and promise that programmatic technologies can have in making email even more important and relevant for the recipients, and improving the results and achievements for email marketers themselves.

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Image credit: Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

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