We’ve all been at the counter of a store or at a favorite restaurant when the clerk or waiter asks us for our email address. For the most part, this is a simple request. We’re happy to give it out, and especially if we have one email address that we use just for spam-type stuff. No problem sharing that one. But those email address requests are starting to put power into the hands of companies and marketers. As email ad campaigns are being leveraged along with AI search information, marketers are becoming better and better at choosing the right information to send out in order to capitalize on the buying instincts of consumers. In the current marketplace, data is power, and emails are the first step in the data journey.

For online marketers, email is still the most useful entry point for adding new customer relationships. These relationships are based on initial customer taste, since the emails were given freely in exchange for some service or promotion by the retail outlet. This means that the first step of the marketing process – identifying real potential customers – has already been taken. When the email is given for transactional purposes (receipt, returns, etc), the odds of the email being opened are substantially higher. This means that the email recipient is now prepared to start receiving emails that may include additional offers or incentives, as well as marketing platforms.

As data about the consumer increases, AI can be used to determine customer purchasing habits and tastes. This information is incredibly valuable to marketers. As AI analyzes data, it returns useful information about the consumer that can then be included in a more focused cross-channel marketing plan. Focused advertisements in the appropriate digital channels can direct ads at consumers in places where they are more likely to buy. These include search engine marketing, display advertising and social media marketing as well as blogs and organic search marketing. Further, as data from these channels is delivered, AI continues to analyze and optimize, allowing the marketer to develop a more cohesive content package for each consumer.

As the consumer data stream continues to flow and be analyzed, marketers are then able to use that information to more carefully target-email their consumer base. Target emails focus on specific needs of consumers and offer products and services that will coalesce with their varying needs. This more focused email system will then have the benefit of targeting consumers ‘real’ desires, rather than the simple ‘cold email’ sales approach. Marketers are then able to increase open rates and purchase numbers from their email campaigns, and generate revenue for their businesses.

Ultimately, data is power. As data is harvested from consumers across all channels, AI allows marketing efforts to be more focused and predictive. Though emails are a very old tool, they still generate a great consumer-business relationship and should be a point of focus for any successful marketing campaign. So next time you’re in Gap and they offer to email your receipt, just realize, it may be the beginning of a long friendship.

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