Opt-in Marketing Channels Should Not be Ignored

Lurking beneath all of the social media, influencer, and ChatGPT headlines are things quietly driving sales and engaging consumers. While unassuming, they’re growing larger. They are … opt-in marketing channels.

Email, SMS, and web push notifications have been increasing in adoption and generating sales year after year. According to a recently released yearly email and SMS marketing benchmark report from Omnisend, brands sent more messages across all three channels and generated more orders from them than ever before.

The sales ramifications of this are enormous, but only if you are aware of the trends and ways to use them to bolster your marketing program. Here are the key things you need to know.

Ecommerce Email Marketing Trends

Consumers still turn to email as a part of their shopping and product discovery journeys. In 2022, brands sent 42% more marketing emails than the year before, resulting in a 12% increase in email-related orders. During maybe the most critical time of year for retailers, Q4, it increased further.

Email marketing generated a 13.8% increase in orders on Black Friday, a 34.4% increase during the Cyber 10 (Sunday before Black Friday through Giving Tuesday), and an 18.7% increase in overall Q4 orders. When push came to shove, consumers opened their inboxes.

Interestingly, industry verticals and email performance tell us a bit more about what appeals to consumers when they shop.

The industry verticals achieving the best click and conversion engagement all have an aspect of personal enjoyment to them, such as Hobbies & Leisure, Food & Drink, and Health & Wellness. When pleasure and emotion come into the decision-making process, conversions happen.

On the contrary, some of the lower-performing verticals were those where price comparison is more prevalent. These include verticals like Consumer Electronics and Fashion & Apparel. While emotions can play into these purchases, they tend to be a bit more transactional or price-sensitive than others.

This performance tells us a lot beyond email. Brands, regardless of vertical, should assess their content strategy and ensure their messages contain an emotional aspect to them. This can include promoting value-adds like friendly shipping and return policies, customer testimonials and product star ratings, SMS programs, and loyalty programs across their messages.

Email Automation is a Must-Have, but Which Ones Matter?

Most automated emails are behavior-based, meaning they only send when a consumer takes a specific action, like abandoning a shopping cart. This makes them relevant, timely, and effective.

How effective? The conversion rate for an automated message is 1.92% compared to 0.08% for a scheduled email campaign. In 2022, automated emails were responsible for 31.5% of all email marketing orders and only 1.8% of sends.

Brands looking to increase email sales need to deploy the right email automation and strategy and have the tools to do so. While all automated messages are beneficial, they are not all created equal.

Three automated messages stand out from the rest: welcome, cart abandonment, and browse abandonment. Combined, these three messages were responsible for 82% of all automated email orders in 2022.

The reason for this disparity is that they center around high-intent periods of consumer engagement. Welcome messages are sent during initial brand and product discovery. Browse abandonment messages are sent when consumers are actively exploring products for purchase. Cart abandonment messages are sent after consumers have identified specific products they intend to purchase.

Building an automated strategy with these three messages as the foundation will set brands up for automated sales success.

SMS & Web Push Message Trends

SMS has cemented itself as an effective and everyday opt-in marketing channel. SMS sends have increased each of the past three years, rising 62.3% in 2022, resulting in 23.8% more orders. Interestingly, while overall SMS sends increased, automated SMS sends decreased by 21%. Still, automated SMS orders increased by more than 600%.

The reason for this is that brands moved from experimental to tactical, meaning they went from including SMS in every automated workflow to using them more selectively in high-intent ones. The improved experience and relevance of the messages meant more conversions.

Web push messages, while still experimental for many, are also seeing an increase. Merchants sent more than 200 million messages in 2022, a 290% increase. This resulted in nearly 19% more push-related orders.

Automated push messages saw a 42.6% increase in sends, but their performance compared to campaign push messages is what stands out. Automated push messages saw a 304% lift in open rate and an 825% lift in click rate compared to campaign messages.

How Brands Can Respond to Consumer Trends

Knowing which channels consumers engage with and how they respond to each is only the first step. Having the proper tools and tactics to make them as effective as possible is another. Companies can no longer create a generic abandoned cart message and expect a meaningful lift in sales. Here are three ways brands can respond to these trends to increase sales:

  1. Combine multiple channels and use splits inside of automated workflows.

Combining multiple channels in the same workflow allows brands to deliver more personalized experiences via their preferred channels. This way, email-only customers can receive different sets of messages than those subscribed to both email and SMS. The same applies to web push notification subscribers.

Combining channels with “splits” inside of workflows allows brands to further customize the experience. Using customer data, companies can send a different set of messages to would-be first-time purchasers, one-time and loyal customers, send different messages if the abandoned shopping cart total was above or below certain thresholds, combine both of these tactics to deliver an even more personalized shopping experience, or create unique messaging for select segments.

  1. Promote value-adds and emotion in messages.

Industry verticals with an emotional component perform better than those without. Brands should lean into this by finding the emotional component of their products and including it in their messaging. They should also focus on building consumer confidence by promoting value-adds such as consumer-friendly shipping and return policies and customer favorites in their messages—especially automated ones.

  1. Adopt SMS and test web push messages.

SMS is an established opt-in marketing channel and there is an opportunity for brands to capitalize on it. Brands should be actively collecting mobile numbers along with email addresses. Web push is seeing a massive increase in adoption but since it is still newer it may be the perfect time to explore it. With both, brands should include them in their automated email workflows—especially high-intent ones like welcome, cart abandonment, and browse abandonment.

Email and SMS marketing plays a vital, and still growing, role in the consumer purchase and product discovery journey. Companies that consolidate their data and understand consumer marketing trends will find themselves improving the branded customer experience, increasing sales, and even reducing paid retargeting costs.

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