Is anyone out there reading your brand’s emails?

According to a great article in eMarketer, high frequency and irrelevancy are among the top reasons why readers are flagging emails as spam. In a way, it’s what you would expect after years of the batch and blast email programs that we all receive – and many of us are guilty of sending.

I’m sure you could look through your spam folder or even your gmail promotions folder and see a daily barrage of emails. Many of which the receiver signed up for with the promise of 10% off their next purchase or another discount incentive. No wonder open rates and overall revenue from email are plummeting.

The challenge is how do you maintain a relationship with the email recipient so that they don’t want to miss your brand’s email in that sea of irrelevant promotional noise. What makes your content and message valuable?

The first element is relevance to the individual. This is the opposite of batch and blast. Instead of sending “Men’s sale promotions” to women or sales on winter boots to someone in Florida, the content should be relevant to that recipient. What if you sent emails when the item someone had put in their shopping cart went on sale? What if you knew the individual preferences of the recipient, and when new merchandise became available, you could send them just the items that met their preferences?

I’m sure many of you might think these are potentially great ideas, many more are likely saying that it’s impossible. If you have personalization solutions that are segment based (old school personalization), you are correct in that you won’t be able to achieve this level of relevance and messaging to your email recipients. Capturing individual shopper information and using that as a backbone to your ecommerce and marketing programs requires a 1 to 1 solution.

Batch and blast email programs are all based on wants and needs of the company’s timing, rather than what might be relevant timing or frequency to the recipient. Yes, I know we would all like to think that our new fall wardrobe is the most important thing in anyone’s email inbox, but it can’t be to everyone at the same time. Timing is really a critical part of relevance. The time is right when you have relevant content. The good news is that you can help create content that’s timely and relevant (read the next section for how).

When people are recognized as valuable customers in ways that are relevant to them, they feel like they feel like their relationship with the brand is much less of a one way street. Retailers can create recognition messages that include discounts and promotions that might on the surface seem like batch and blast, but when you can create relevance around a specific user, those messages better resonate and are more likely to achieve your goals. Events and milestones are a good example. If a recipient has been a shopper for 5 years, then say thank you with 10% off instead of randomly saying 10% off for everybody. This recognition lands with appreciation and a desire to take advantage of something they have earned, not something everyone gets. There are many ways to show individual shoppers how much you appreciate their loyalty. The key is making sure these messages call out the reasons why you value the recipient as an individual.

To conclude, email is one of the strongest communications methods marketers have, but it will soon die if marketers don’t rethink their stale batch and send approach. Keeping these three elements in mind as you develop your email programs can help increase your open rates, increase your revenue per email results and decrease your unsubscribes.

Kurt Heinemann

Kurt is Reflektion’s CMO. His resume includes CMO positions at Marketwired and Monetate. He’s also held senior executive positions at Priceline, Time Warner and Walker Digital Companies. Despite living in Yankees territory, Kurt is a die hard Tigers fan.