Email may well be the oldest digital marketing discipline, however, US technology and engagement firm Movable Ink believes that it remains the most misunderstood channel and can further offer marketeers’ the best campaign ROI.
Luis Waters UK account lead for Movable Ink, a specialist in all-things email (data collection, engagement, personalisation, journey) speaks to SBC on why industry stakeholders can learn new tricks from an old dawg….
SBC: Hi Luis, thanks for the interview. Email is perhaps the oldest digital marketing discipline. As a communication and engagement tool why is email still relevant for all marketing stakeholders?
Luis Waters: As a marketing channel, email is one of the best in terms of ROI. As you rightly say, email has been around for a long time now, and as such has become a staple in our lives, both with marketing teams and with customers – who are often more comfortable providing an email address over any other contact details.
One emerging trend is email becoming the central hub for all digital marketing channels. We’re seeing marketers use the content generated from other digital channels to populate their emails, from the latest website content, to social media feeds and APIs. By transforming email into a live channel that adapts and updates at the point-of-open, betting operators working with Movable Ink have been able to re-establish the relevancy and value of email communications and maximise engagement levels.
SBC: As a marketing discipline, how has email evolved with new digital technologies and changing consumer trends and demands?
LW: In the early days email used to generate a Pavlovian response, so when a brand sent something, the recipient was there waiting to see what delights the email contained. The modern consumer is much more used to marketing, much more savvy to the tactics used, is connected to so much content across so many sources and in a far more mobile environment.
Email has only just caught up with consumer expectations. It is no longer enough for brands to broadcast a flat message and keep their fingers crossed. Recipients now expect personalised communications that adapt to their location, the weather, their device, the time of day or day of the week and that contain information that is current, pricing that is accurate, odds that are live or stock that is available.
Why would a brand be sending out emails that were not relevant? Consumers have so much choice in where they shop, what they buy, where they travel, what they watch, who they bet with, the games they play. We are seeing brands focus on delivering customer experiences through email, not just the best deals.
SBC: For betting operators’ engagement in a ‘live context/environment’ is a critical factor. How does Movable Ink create accurate communications for this much sought after dynamic?
LW: For me, this is perhaps the most important factor for email success in the sports betting sector and the key value Movable Ink brings to operators.
The challenge surrounding “real-time,” particularly in sports betting, is one which had remained unanswered with regards to email. When operators send static email content, defined at the point of send, the chances of it still being accurate and relevant when the email is eventually opened are slim.
Using Movable Ink, operators have been able to revolutionise their email communications, enabling content to update at the point of open and adapt based on real-time data feeds, player behaviour and predetermined logic.
Not only does this improve the relevancy of the content for each player, but opens the door for the inclusion of live odds and scores, real-time jackpots and upcoming competitions.
This has already had a huge impact on how email is viewed by players, becoming a valuable live stream of betting insights. This focus on engagement is reflected in the fact many of the operators we are working with are measuring re-open rates in addition to the traditional email KPIs like clicks and conversions.
SBC: With fast technology advancements, is email still simply a marketing function for stakeholders or can it help other business objectives such as retention, scalability, data gathering, etc..?
LW: Certainly, and I think with customer centricity being a huge buzzword over the past couple of years, it comes down to the fact that email is one of the best methods for communicating with new, engaged and lapsed players.
The ability to personalise communications to each unique player in real-time creates an extremely powerful instrument to not only engage players and maximise revenue, but also deliver a differentiated customer experience and stand out from the competition.
The challenge with 1:1 personalisation is of course scalability and resources. We often find teams operating at maximum capacity just getting out the day-to-day, BAU communications, let alone focusing on the 1:1 experiences that consumers are demanding nowadays.
This is something Movable Ink has been focused on since pioneering the intelligent content space. By enabling marketers to use data feeds and business logic in a simple way, they can automate a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to creating email content.
By alleviating the strain on resources with BAU tasks, teams are able to focus their time on more interesting and valuable projects that will move the needle and set them apart from the competition.
In addition, we’ve seen operators use live polling in email to fill in the gaps and gather additional information about their players. Email behaviour can be a great source of information when it comes to how, when, where, what and why users are interacting with your brand.
This has been particularly interesting for Brick and Click operators trying to bridge the gap between their betting shops and online sportsbooks. If they can understand how punters behave online and offline, they can explore ways to influence cross-over.
SBC: Movable Ink has worked with a number of major brands in retail, finance and entertainment. What email values and dynamics can betting stakeholders learn from an outside industry perspective?
LW: We have found that across retail, finance, travel, media, and others, the trends are actually very similar. It really is all about using real-time data to personalise and optimise communications on the fly.
For a retailer, this could be switching sandals with boots if it is raining when someone opens the email. Or swapping products if they go out of stock. For a travel company, it might mean showing the upcoming appointments that are available at the nearest travel agent.
These examples do not immediately lend themselves to sports betting. However, when you look at the underlying technology, you can see that weather conditions at a horserace have a big impact on how someone bets, so why not share the live forecast at the racecourse?
During a big match, operators can update the live score to encourage more in-game betting, whilst sharing the latest odds. The implementations can be different across industries, but essentially the real-time, contextually relevant content strategy is the same.
SBC: You are targeting growth with the online betting & gaming sectors. How do you see your services developing for the industry in the coming months?
LW: Personalising email based on player’s behaviour across all channels is a going to be a huge opportunity for the betting and gaming sectors. It’s something the likes of Amazon and Netflix have done incredibly well, all while raising customer expectations.
Similar to sports betting, both possess extremely varied product offerings which could easily lose consumers in the purchase or viewing funnel. By using data to better understand their visitors, such as what categories they have viewed on the website, what events they have betted on or what teams they support, operators are able to tailor all customer touch points and minimise the betting journey.
With Netflix, every return visit to their site begins with recommended products or shows. With email, every communication should contain tailored content that operators know the player will be interested in, especially with so many sports, events and markets – the variety presented in sportsbooks can easily be overwhelming.
Luis Waters -Strategic Accounts UK – Movable Ink