Here are some of my takeaways from this article by Stephan Dietrich:
There are two important things marketers can do to evolve their email strategies and improve interactions with customers and prospects. One is to improve the personalization within the emails themselves, and the other is to better coordinate these emails with other channels such as direct mail, phone and mobile.
Moving from simple to multivariable email marketing
Email marketing is evolving from simple approaches to more behaviorally based multivariable, or dynamic, approaches.
Multivariable, or dynamic, email marketing relies on multiple components to determine the next marketing step, including data obtained from user profiles and actual user behavior. For example, suppose a customer visits a women's clothing website where she has previously made a purchase. She clicks through a couple of pages, spends extra time on a page with shoes, taking a closer look at specific styles and colors, but then leaves the site without buying. The customer then is treated to an email offering a discount (her user profile is already in the system) on a pair of shoes -- buy one get one half-off -- promoting just the style she spent the most time viewing.
Maturing from multi-channel to cross-channel marketing
What is perhaps more wasteful than using simple email marketing is the use of email campaigns that are not well-coordinated with direct mail, telemarketing or mobile initiatives.
Coordination and consistency are very important -- imagine a customer's reaction to receiving two different offers from a triple-play telephone/cable/internet provider. One arrives by direct mail and offers a bundle of all three services for $99 per month. One arrives via email and offers the same bundle at $99 per month plus as an additional incentive, a free HDTV. The consumer calls the toll-free number on the mailed postcard and asks about the email offer. The call center agent isn't aware of the HDTV offer and cannot honor it. The customer is annoyed and, believing the experience may be symbolic of the type of service she can expect should she switch, decides to remain with her current provider.
Situations like this arise when companies take a multi-channel marketing approach versus a cross-channel marketing approach. "Multi-channel" infers the ability to drive marketing through multiple channels -- something most marketers have certainly achieved. Meanwhile, "cross-channel" denotes the ability to drive the coordination and consistency of a campaign's message across channels.