Retailers Need Email Marketing More Than Ever

Email Marketing

The world of retail can be a tough and cruel place.  Most of us have worked in retail in some capacity over our lives, whether on the front lines with customers in certain departments or in corporate offices as an email marketer to a V.P. of whatever.

For the last few years, the world of retail has taken a beating by the many new ways to shop; and most of the credit should be given to technology. This past Holiday season was exceptionally bad for quite a few brick and mortar dependent retailers, and as a result a number of companies have decided to close their stores.  In some cases, the number of closures are pretty alarming and will likely impact tens of thousands of workers and millions of loyal customers who shopped at these places over the years.  Here is a rundown of retailers with store closures slated for 2017:

  1.    Abercrombie and Fitch: 60 (54)
  2.    Office Depot: 75. (123)
  3.    CVS: 70
  4.    Foot Locker: 100 (51)
  5.    Macy’s (68)
  6.    Sears and Kmart: 150
  7.    J.C. Penny: 130
  8.    HHGregg: 88
  9.    Crocs: 160
  10.    The Limited: 250
  11.    Wet Seal: 171
  12.    American Apparel: 110
  13.    BCBG: 120
  14.    Family Christian: 240
  15.    Payless: 400+

( ): 2016 closures

Unfortunately, this sad reality of business is especially tough for the people who worked at these places, and I’m sure tough conversations were had in the boardrooms of these companies too. To that end, I am convinced that these 15 retailers, and probably a heck of alot more, need email to play a bigger part in their overall marketing mix. They not only need email now, they need to invest in it, test it and become better at it.

Email Power

Email marketing is not easy, but when done right it’s extremely powerful. Like any channel, it requires investment both in terms of time and resources for it to succeed. Great email programs evolve, and one question retailers should be asking is how to use email to get better at cross channel marketing and branding? Established retailers need to leverage the equity they have in their brand in a way that they have never done before.  They also need to understand what messaging works with their most loyal customers in the digital world. To do this, they can take the data they have and formulate a plan to test what resonates with other segments.  

These type of customer communications need to go beyond the obligatory “store closing” email, as customers need reassurance that their brand, and products will not be changed. These retailers need to shift the mindset of the consumer to a more digitally focused world and offer up new ways to shop and engage with their brand. Brands have to push other experiences for the consumer such as apps and web, and consider an app download a win; provided that they track engagement of the app and communicate via push or email when any sort of online and offline takes place.

Email needs to be the primary channel for these brands for reassurance and reminders, and it has to start now. Actually, it should have started once they announced these closings.

Key Takeaway

Whether closing 1 store or 250, retailers need to have a plan, and have one quickly. Sending the same old campaigns to those immediately affected might work for now, but won’t work in the long run because customers are fickle and often have short attention spans.  I have always been a proponent of being proactive rather than reactive, so you don’t get caught with your pants down. Create and execute, and try to show the value of email even more this year, despite what is happening on the outside.
Stuck and don’t know what to do next?  Email us at Trendline and we can help.

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