How has e-commerce changed marketing

Email Marketing: How Customer Communication Changed in the Pandemic

Sebastian Strzelecki, CEO of the solution provider CleverReach, reports in an interview about his experiences in email marketing over the last year and gives an outlook on important developments in 2021.

Which topics were in the foreground with regard to e-mail marketing and e-commerce in the past year? What has been particularly preoccupying the industry?

Sebastian Strzelecki: The industry can definitely be described as the winner of the pandemic, as the situation has made the need for targeted customer communication even more evident and has led to a disproportionate use of Emails as a customer loyalty tool has led. E-mail is also the most important channel of all channels in the marketing mix. The situation has shown how important it is to communicate regularly and not just sporadically every six months. It has also become clear that marketing tools and communication channels such as e-mail marketing have to become more intelligent in order to be able to efficiently relieve users when there is a high demand.

Behavior-based triggers make marketing a lot easier for users and give recipients exactly the information they need at the right time. Interface communication has also become an important point because intelligent functions can only be used in a system if the available data can be exchanged automatically for use in e-mail marketing. Cross-industry certainly has the topic Digitization and virtual communication had a strong influence and posed a real challenge to many companies, although at the same time there was enormous potential and real opportunities to position themselves as a company in a more sustainable manner.

What changes have you noticed in email marketing compared to other years?

Sebastian Strzelecki: The relevance of e-mail marketing has increased significantly and at the same time has allowed a certain positive association, which means that companies are more willing to use e-mails as a customer loyalty tool than was the case before the pandemic. Today, customers also deal much more intensively with the resulting opportunities and have a deeper understanding of the subject than was the case a year or two ago. especially the Automated communication options are better understood today and the potential of the existing data is better used. Until some time ago it was marketing professionals who focused on automation, today it is a very heterogeneous group of all experience levels who benefit from the use of automated e-mails.

Of course, this assumes that you deal with the data volumes that need to be queried for successful automation and assign them accordingly. The more data the user has, the more interactions and personalization is possible. As a result, addressing recipients personally has once again become significantly more relevant. While customers and recipients may have previously appreciated the personal exchange, due to the corona pandemic they were dependent on digital offers in many places over the past year. Consumption has changed, communication and marketing have to follow suit. And that went much faster last year than anything we could see before.

How did customers and users from the B2B and B2C sector act in 2020? Which functions have been used more often and have inquiries changed due to the pandemic?

Sebastian Strzelecki: The need for automation and the use of interfaces to existing shop, CMS and CRM systems has increased significantly, as the classic, stationary trade was faced with the challenge of compensating for falling revenues through other channels as a result of the pandemic. Both the B2C and B2B sectors were forced to rethink and relocate their sales channels accordingly, but also to adapt their communication. Here are DIY solutionsas offered by CleverReach, an advantage that should not be underestimated, especially in combination with e-commerce systems, as solutions could be created quickly without compelling advice.

The B2C industry lost its “points of sale” (POS) close proximity to the consumer and had to build up a new type of customer loyalty via digital communication channels. The personalization function makes it possible not to lose proximity to the customer despite the lack of personal proximity and to strengthen and intensify customer loyalty. In the B2B area, we were able to identify increased transparency in communication in order to provide information about extended delivery times, product shortages or even conversion of production series for the benefit of society.

Communication based on behavioral patterns could be particularly helpful here and provide B2B customers with timely information about relevant information. In general, communication has once again become increasingly digital and CleverReach also sent significantly more newsletters in order to meet the increasing need for communication.

Were there any significant anomalies in the transition phase at the beginning of the pandemic? How did it go until the end of the year and what can be expected in the future?

Sebastian Strzelecki: At the beginning of the corona pandemic, we noticed a significant increase in the activities of our existing customers, but also a sharp increase in new registrations. This is certainly also due to the relocation of POS companies to online shops, who did not want to give up their service philosophy "We are still there for you" when the shop closed. As a result, communication between small and medium-sized companies at the local level became necessary. Slogans such as “Support your locals”, also on a digital level, have also proven themselves in Germany among local companies who wanted to call for solidarity.

This trend runs through the entire year and followed the predictable, seasonal fluctuations, whereby these fluctuations shifted slightly towards the end of the year. Because based on the curve of the pandemic, there were also accessibility, opening times and the parallel between POS and digital area. Extensions of both strategies became clear, especially with the second lockdown, the communication concept of both levels became more connected and became more and more symbiotic. As a result of the experience since the beginning of the pandemic, companies that first tried email marketing and other digital channels in March have gained flexibility in their communication and are using the channels more strategically.

What will users and the marketing industry take with them into 2021 and which topics will they leave behind, if any?

Sebastian Strzelecki: We are very far from a "normal" reality and we will certainly not regain what we knew before in this form. At the same time, the pandemic has lifted physical boundaries and the world has moved closer together, at least virtually. Now that everyone is suddenly in the same boat, a new, different understanding and a new form of solidarity are emerging. Innovative formats such as Clubhouse promote a different form of togetherness, while providers such as Zoom and Slack support us in maintaining our previous connections, which we know and appreciate from everyday social and work life.

The trend is clearly in the direction of digital, and in many areas also automated, communication. Virtual meetings make some processes more efficient, what falls by the wayside is social interaction, the real and experienced feeling of "we" and togetherness. The office is increasingly used as a place for social interaction and not necessarily as a workplace in the traditional sense. In the // Crash group of companies, we recognized early on how important the interpersonal aspects are at work, and with the // Crash Building we have created a unique working atmosphere that combines the best of classic and mobile working environments.

Sebastian Strzelecki has been Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at CleverReach, the solution provider for digital direct marketing, since January 2020. In this role he is also responsible for operational management. Strzelecki has been with the // Crash Group for almost 18 years. He initially worked as a media designer in the field of software development and built up the email marketing area.
As a founding member of Ashampoo Internet Services, from which the sister company CleverReach emerged in 2007 after the change of name, he also worked as a strategic companion and consultant at CleverReach in addition to his role as Creative Director at Ashampoo. Solution provider changed. In addition to consulting, he worked as a product and business development manager until his promotion to COO in August 2019. (sg)

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