CRM, email marketing, Marketing Automation, Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Customer expectations and successful email deliverability : How Salesforce Marketing Cloud can fuel seamless customer experiences?

With the world we are living in today, adoption of smartphones, social media and online shopping, connected experiences have become an expectation more than ever. “The customer is always right” mentality is no longer enough to earn customer loyalty. In fact, 84% of customers say the experience is just as important as the product or service they are purchasing. 

People expect proactive brand engagement and support. Apologetic, reactive solutions to their problems won’t cut it anymore. Today, great customer experiences meet customers where they are at in their journeys. Brands that are winning have the right mix of data and technology to delight customers at any touch point, at any time. 

How can you provide connected experiences?

  1. Personalize Marketing Cloud emails with Sales and Service Cloud customer data.
  2. Track how contacts and leads respond to email campaigns.
  3. Configure the integration to fit your business needs.
  4. Customize Sales and Service Cloud page layouts with Marketing Cloud features.
  5. Send Marketing Cloud emails in Sales or Service Cloud to leads, contacts, reports, and campaigns.
  6. Map Sales and Service Cloud fields with Marketing Cloud attributes to personalize messages.
  7. After installing the connector, modify page layouts and objects in Sales or Service Cloud to enable Marketing Cloud sending and display email tracking results.

You’ve probably heard about the importance of email deliverability, but do you know how it specifically applies to you, your email marketing strategy, and your customers?

Whether you’re constantly tracking your statistics or you’re just now hearing about this metric for the first time, remember that even the best email campaigns cannot be successful without following deliverability best practices.

You could say that deliverability is the make-it-or-break-it of email.

And don’t worry, we’re here to help you make it. Read on

Email delivery vs. email deliverability

Email delivery and deliverability can be complicated and may, at times, seem part science and part magic. We can start demystifying these concepts first by defining them:

Email delivery is when an email is successfully delivered to the receiving server.

Email deliverability is when an email successful arrives in the person’s inbox.

It’s possible to have good email delivery but poor deliverability, because the email landed in a person’s spam folder rather than their inbox.

Delivery

Email Service Providers (ESPs) will be provided some information why a message was rejected (bounced), based on the details the receiving server sends back in the error message.

We can then accurately measure delivery rates to know how many emails are accepted and how many bounce. Examples of bounced emails include a temporary delivery error (soft bounce) because the server is unavailable, or a permanent error (hard bounce) because the email address is no longer valid.

Deliverability

Delivery, however, is only the first part of the email’s journey to successfully arriving in the inbox. Campaign Monitor has an overall delivery rate of 99%. Although we are unable to know what percentage of emails arrive in the inbox vs the spam folder, we can make inferences by analyzing some key metrics for our emails.

Bounce rates (tracked by the ESP), open rates, unsubscribe rates, click-through rates, and spam complaints give the marketer insight as to how people react to and engage with their emails. Monitoring these metrics over time reveals trends in audience activity and engagement.

Engagement is the most important factor in email deliverability since it directly impacts sender reputation (both for the marketer and the ESP). A stellar sender reputation is key to great email deliverability.

Before we dive into how to work towards great email deliverability, it’s important to consider why email deliverability is critical to effective email marketing.

Why should we care about email deliverability?

Here are three important reasons why email deliverability matters to a marketer.

1. Successful deliverability equals successful email marketing.

Email deliverability is the foundation upon which email marketing is built. At a base level, a marketer is paying an ESP to send emails on their behalf but how a marketer manages their subscriber list and email program will determine whether or not the email is placed in subscribers’ inboxes.

As we previously mentioned in 70 email marketing stats every marketer should know, email generates the highest return on investment (ROI) for marketers, with a 4400% ROI and $44 for every $1 spent. Email clearly remains extremely relevant in today’s digital marketing landscape and has the potential to be a highly lucrative marketing avenue when employed strategically.

Marketers spend much time and effort crafting the perfect email and this effort is certainly worthwhile. Having the ideal ratio of text to images, considering the spacing, using an eye-catching font, personalizing the content for the target audience, and selecting the optimum sending time and frequency are all key factors in a successful email.

However, all that effort is wasted if the intended audience never opens the email because it never arrives in their inbox.

It benefits a marketer to manage their email program in such a way that inbox placement and open rates are optimized. Designing a thoughtful and attractive email only goes so far.

Marketers must ensure their emails are actually viewable to an interested audience. Achieving this end requires good deliverability and careful subscriber list management.

2. Win the inbox competition.

The email world is a very busy and, hence, a very competitive space. Individual senders compete with each other for emails to be both accepted by inbox providers like Gmail and then filtered to the inbox.

In March 2018, the Radicati Group estimated the number of email accounts worldwide at 3.8 billion, with about 124.5 billion business emails and 111.1 billion consumer emails sent and received each day. Propellercrm.com posted in February 2018 that 14.5 billion spam messages are sent globally each day.

More recently, Gmail posted in Product News that “1.5 billion people use Gmail every month, and 5 million paying businesses use Gmail in the workplace.” With so many individuals and businesses using Gmail—and so many spam emails being sent—safeguarding the inbox is paramount. Gmail’s machine learning algorithms block nearly 10 million spam and malicious emails every minute.

With an accelerating increase in email traffic and inbox providers implementing more rigorous filtering technology to secure their user’s inboxes, a marketer has to earn their place in the inbox. The savvy marketer knows they need to provide relevant and engaging content, delivered at the right frequency to an interested audience, and build long-term relationships with their subscribers.

See how Canopy provides personalized and relevant content to their subscribers, helping them find the perfect gift:

3. Care about the audience experience.

Marketers are in competition with all other email senders and want to win their place in the inbox. For email marketing to be successful, people must actually open an email and engage with the content. Thus, if you want to be successful, a marketer must consider the experience from the recipient’s point of view.

Considerate marketers only send emails people actually want and only send to fully opted in lists. Sending emails to non-permission based lists will result in low open rates, high unsubscribe rates, and high spam complaints, all of which indicate an unsuccessful email.

Such poor stats will have an ongoing negative effect on sender reputation and will impact the sender’s deliverability in the future.

The new customer journey: The right content on demand

In some ways, customer journeys haven’t changed much. Customers still research options and interact with brands in-store. They still demo products and price compare. But data connectivity, IoT and in-store applications have raised the bar on customer expectations. Finding the right information online is no longer the threshold of convenience.

How did we go from being satisfied with the option to shop online to expecting 100% consistency at every touch point? It started with integrated online and offline loyalty programs. Brands that invest in connected experiences have a clear edge. In fact, 66% of buyers say they’ll actually pay more for a product or service that delivers a better experience. Customers want proactive, connected experiences—both in-store and online.

Understanding new customer expectations

The research shows that understanding customers’ needs — and exceeding their expectations — are becoming table stakes for businesses to compete. Here are four expectations that are changing the game for companies.

Customers Expect Connected Journeys: BREAK DOWN YOUR BUSINESS SILOS.

70% of customers say connected processes — such as seamless handoffs or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions — are very important to winning their business. [Click to tweet]

Customers are 3.7x more likely to view seamless transitions between channels as important versus unimportant.

Customers Expect Personalization: CUSTOMIZE EVERYTHING.

84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. [Click to tweet]

70% of customers say understanding how they use products and services is very important to winning their business.

59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business.

Customers are 2.1x more likely to view personalized offers as important versus unimportant.

Read more about the connected mandate companies are facing.

Customers expect Innovation: KEEP PUSHING THE LIMITS.

56% of customers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies (that is, those that consistently introduce new products and services based on customer needs and new technology).

63% of customers expect companies to provide new products/services more frequently than ever before.

66% of customers say it takes more for a company to impress them with new products and services than ever before. [Click to tweet]

Customers are 9.5x more likely to view AI as revolutionary versus insignificant.

Read more about the impact on business innovation.

Customers expect great experiences but reality falls short.

In this era of exponentially disruptive technological change, often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, products and services that are cutting edge one day are outdated the next. In this context, the experience a company offers is increasingly its differentiator. But the scope of customer experience is changing, too. To win hearts and wallets, companies must not only deliver amazing marketing, sales, ecommerce, and service interactions, but also prove that they have the customers’ best interests in mind.

Customers expect a lot from companies, but don’t have faith in them to deliver. About half of customers say most companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences. The reality is that today’s customers expect companies to understand and care about them as individuals, and treat them accordingly.

Technology is raising customer expectations at a breakneck pace.

For businesses, there’s more focus than ever on going beyond the expected product or service to deliver a customer experience that truly differentiates. But while expectations for personalized, connected experiences are soaring, trust in companies to responsibly handle the data they require is bottoming out.

This research examines the evolution of these expectations, the technology that’s driving them, and the balance of trust between customers and companies. With more choice, more access to information, and less incentive to be loyal, today’s customers are firmly in control of their relationships with companies. Consumers and business buyers alike seek differentiated experiences based on trust and understanding, and will shop around to find them. Business buyers’ expectations mirror consumer expectations for company interactions.

Why exceeding customer expectations is critical?

The ripple effect of a single bad experience or missed customer expectation goes beyond a lost sale. Fifty-seven percent of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience. What’s more, 62% of customers say they share bad experiences with others. With the proliferation of peer review sites and social media, this practice can inflict widespread reputational damage. But this new dynamic is not all doom and gloom.

Whether your company meets or misses customer expectations, research shows there’s an impact on the bottom line.

Seventy-two percent of customers share good experiences with others — a full 10% more than those who share the negative.

Two-thirds of customers will even pay a premium to companies that offer superior experiences, thereby introducing not just competitive differentiation, but increased or even new revenue streams.

What’s next? Marketing Automation at its best

1. Connect your campaign to other channels

Drip campaigns don’t exist in a vacuum. Strive to make all of your advertising channels work together in harmony to create maximum engagement.

For example, adding “Follow us on Instagram” to the end of your emails lets people know you’re active on social. You can also use similar content across social posts, paid ads, and blog posts to generate excitement and remain consistent about a specific offer or promotion, like a new product launch.

There are many ways for B2B companies in a wide range of industries to use Journey Builder. Here are just a few of my favorite ways to boost ROI with this feature.

2. Optimize Leads and Opportunities

Journey Builder helps your company make the most of leads and opportunities without requiring more time from your sales team. For example, if a lead hasn’t changed status after 30 days, Journey Builder can automatically add them to nuture a campaign and send the lead personalized content based on their behavior. You can also use the tool to update lead status. For instance, you may decide that any lead who engages with a specific link in one of your nurture emails will be converted to a contact with an opportunity in Sales Cloud. 

Automating these actions with Journey Builder not only saves effort for your sales team, but also ensures they can spend their time on the leads most likely to convert.

3. Automate Simple Communications

Journey Builder can use data from any standard or custom object that has a lookup relationship to your Leads and Contacts. 

Leverage Journey Builder for replacing sales calls with automated surveys from lost opportunities; send upcoming renewal reminders for customer subscriptions;notify customers to upgrade to your latest product; ensures that your consumers get these notifications and updates in a timely fashion, while freeing up time for your sales and service employees to focus on more intensive tasks.

4. Manage Partner Relationships

If you’re working with partners and wholesalers, Journey Builder can help with the onboarding process for these relationships. By setting up an automated journey that all new partners receive, you can easily provide your new contacts with introductions, media kits, and everything they need to make the partnership successful.

5. Create Drip Campaigns

Instead of sending out one manual email announcing a new product, use Journey Builder to strategically piece out your announcement with a drip campaign over 1 to 2 weeks. This will likely drive more interest among your customers and over the course of this campaign, you can see who’s engaging with your emails. Journey Builder provides statistics and updates every step of the way, so you can easily conduct reporting and continually inform your marketing strategy with this valuable data.

Part of the reason a drip campaign generates more revenue than other email campaigns is that it helps boost engagement. Drip emails offer a 119% increase in click rate, which is huge considering drip campaigns require less effort than many others.

Drip emails depend on automation so they don’t need your constant attention. Although they should still be monitored and tested (more on this later), marketing team members don’t need to devote much time creating and sending emails. 

6. Is my call to action compelling?

You’ve got a great subject line and personalized content, so why aren’t the recipients of your email campaign downloading your e-book, viewing your video, reading your blog, or calling you?

It’s time to test your call to action and consider whether you are giving your audience what they really want. First, make sure you know exactly what you want your prospects to do. Then determine if that call to action is clear in your emails. For example, if you want them to give you a call, putting your phone number in regular type at the end of the email’s last paragraph isn’t going to get your phones ringing. Make your call to action big, bold, and relevant to your audience. (If it’s a phone number, hyperlink it so mobile users can tap it and immediately call your company.) Do: Split test different calls to action in your email. Try placing the button in different places and using various words and phrases. “Learn more,” and “Buy now,” for example, may result in very different click rates.

Do: Personalize the call to action. If Bob the remodeler is creating an email nurture journey for leads interested in bathroom remodels, he won’t get very far offering them his kitchen remodeling e-book. Instead, he should consider offering a bathroom remodeling checklist, include a link to his “before and after bathroom remodel” web page, or add something else useful to someone interested in this type of work. 

Do: Try different offers. Maybe your leads don’t want to read a 30-page e-book, but would rather watch a video or listen to your latest podcast. Test different offers to see what really intrigues your prospects.

Don’t: Be generic. Keep your call to action short and personal. Convey the value of your offer and add some urgency.

Do: Look at your click-through rates and conversion numbers. They will help tell you if your call to action is well-targeted and valuable to your audience.

7. Continuously test your campaigns

Just because your emails are automated doesn’t mean you can neglect them altogether. A/B testing is the answer to fine-tuning and optimizing your drip campaigns.

After all the time you spent targeting specific user segments, it’s important to reevaluate and readjust those segments as necessary. It’s also recommended to slightly tweak different elements (subject lines, language, the tone of voice, CTAs, etc.) to see what performs best. Even seemingly trivial variations can help increase engagement and conversions.

Start planning your next campaign today

The key to creating a high-converting campaign is to take subscribers on an engaging journey. Delivering relevant messages to the right people at the best times can help achieve that.

To complete your campaign and reduce wasted clicks, be sure to perfect the post-click experience as well.