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Innovating Email – Part 1: email address as the primary Customer ID

Email marketing can be a force to be reckoned with in the right hands. Having a plethora of email addresses with no clear structure on what will be done with them or no real insight about the people they belong to is a waste. Using an email address as the primary Customer id allows you to turn an email address into much more than a mechanism for communicating with a faceless customer. This is at the heart of what many refer to as a Single Customer View, something that still remains elusive to many retailers today.

Single Customer View: email address as the primary Customer ID

To create a meaningful Single Customer View you need to be able to link datasets together which are generated at every possible touchpoint a customer has with your retail brand. When linked together these datasets have the power to create more relevant strategic marketing plans and highly personal Marketing communications that will resonate more with the customers receiving them.

What do we mean by Touchpoints?

Touchpoints refer to the point at which a customer interacts with your retail brand. Therefore there are a number of them, depending on what you sell,  how you sell it and how you market what you sell. For example, touchpoints can include inbound calls to customer service agents, questions asked via social media channels, outbound email campaigns, as well as the orders made via a retail e-commerce website.

So why use an email address as the primary Customer ID?

Email addresses are perfect for primary customer IDs, as a customer very rarely changes their email address and they use it as a username/login for many websites, social media channels and of course to receive email! So email addresses are almost a currency in the online word. Billions of people enter the email details daily, whether it’s for signing up to a social network account, or making an online purchase. And marketing via email is still very cheap and has the potential to convert sales better than most other marketing channels.

Email addresses enable other forms of marketing

Although there are those who check their emails by the minute, there are others who prefer alternative methods of communication. That’s not to day that email marketing should be avoided for these customers, but it does mean that other factors should be considered when marketing to different customers.

Using email address to unify every order a customer places online allows you to understand how valuable a customer is. Collecting additional information, such as billing addresses and telephone numbers allows a company send exclusive invitations, brochures and offers through the post to their most valuable customers. Direct Mail therefore becomes an exclusive communication channel for VIP customers enabled by email. Appending a customer’s browsing history to their profile will also allow companies to build a single customer view based on their browsing habits, particularly useful for retailers of low frequency products such as furniture and white goods.

A word of caution though...

Many retailers have no problem in collecting the email addresses of their customers. But in many cases their focus is too biased towards the collection of email addresses and less on the strategy surrounding what to do with them once they’ve been collected. Building a single customer view and rich profile for each customer adds a vital step in kick-starting these much-needed strategic discussions. These are what lead to segment strategies, how to deal with VIP customers, dormant customers, non-repertoire customers and so on.


Check our part 2 in our series on innovating email...