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Validity reflects on 50 years of email with Charlie Wijen at Philips

Although technical communication platforms have significantly improved throughout recent years, emailing has remained as an essential form of correspondence for individuals and organisations alike. According to recent research, the number of email users globally is set to grow to 4.6 billion in 2025 and it is estimated that 376 billion e-mails will be sent daily by 2025. The sheer number of individuals utilising this platform means it is a key resource for businesses, with marketers constantly rethinking approaches to better engage with customers.

To reflect on the past 50 years of email, Validity, the leading provider of data quality and email marketing success solutions, sat down with Charlie Wijen, CRM Manager Platform at Validity’s long-time customer, Philips.

Validity: “It should come as no surprise that email marketing is an invaluable tool for many organisations, both big and small. In fact, nearly nine out of every ten marketers use email marketing to distribute content organically and 81 per cent of small businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel. But, what are the main challenges with email?”

Charlie: “Like every business procedure, there are often challenges that organisations face before getting it right. For example, businesses directly targeting other businesses face the biggest challenge with engagement. This is primarily due to their prospects being professionals such as doctors or organisations such as hospitals, which purchase products for very specific reasons. This means that it is harder to keep them engaged, as they will not have a relationship with the brand or feel the need to purchase items spontaneously. Business to business marketing must consist of tailored content otherwise emails will not receive much traction.

“Businesses targeting consumers rarely face this challenge, as many of their prospects are previous customers who have previously expressed interest in the brand. Although the process may seem easy enough, many organisations have different ideas when it comes to best email marketing strategies. For example, some businesses often find it difficult to take an analytic approach, which uses a technical platform to determine who is best to target. Instead, they will often take a broad approach which involves sending a lot of content to a colossal number of users. This approach can often leave consumers feeling overwhelmed and less likely to interact with the brand. An essential aspect for marketers to consider is that more does not always mean better results, and relevancy is key.

“An example of this can be seen with a big product launch for a male shaver, which a marketing team decided to send to everyone on the mailing list. The content within the email was about purchasing the product yourself, so this would not have been relevant for females on the list. In addition, the shaver was retailed at $360, meaning it would not have been ideal for students. To avoid this, marketing teams can create a variety of emails including content tailored to each demographic. This way, recipients are targeted depending on who they are, which can generate better results and a boost in sales.”

Validity: “What solutions would you suggest for overcoming these challenges?”

Charlie: “It is becoming a challenge for marketers to reach their target market, but there are processes which can be put in place to streamline this. Email marketing platforms, for example, provide organisations with a verification solution which can integrate with multiple email platforms to ensure emails are correct, deliverable, and provide business value. Additionally, marketers will benefit from having access to a comprehensive set of email optimisation solutions such as placement, reputation, creative, and engagement data, all while receiving benefits at major mailbox providers to drive increased ROI from the email channel.

“To ensure a company achieves the best results possible with email marketing, it should ensure all content is thoroughly checked and is completely relevant before sending. Additionally, it is important to prioritise contacting the most engaged consumers before anyone else and carrying out validation checks on older data. When working in marketing, it is important to remember that the consumer comes first, and usually every problem comes down to the fact that it lacks relevance. If content is relevant, individuals will engage.”

Validity: “What is the ideal scenario for the future?”

Charlie: “Marketers citing issues around marketing technology has increased by 14 per cent this year, yet we can still expect more focus around technologies such as artificial intelligence-enabled marketing tools going forward. This is because mailbox providers, like everyone, are becoming savvier with technology and now have complex filtering algorithms which can decide if an email is accepted or whether it is placed in the spam folder.”

Validity: “And finally, what is the best advice you’ve received in your career?”

Charlie: “The consumer comes first. Every problem you have with an email is because you’re not delivering relevance. If your content is relevant, people are going to open them and engage. People who work in Sales disagree with this and will say volume is key, but I’ve found that you can overcome most problems just by focusing on relevancy.”